We're back to Islay, checking out Ardbeg's newest committee release, Hypernova.
The latest committee release, Hypernova, is an evolution of the Ardbeg Supernova releases. Peated to a massive 170ppm this Ardbeg release is a non age statement matured in what we believe to be bourbon casks.
We've had some experiences with super high PPM whiskies, usually Octomore, so that'll be a point of reference going into this.
We're getting a big hit of earthy dirty peat followed by roasted peanuts, and some sweetness from the casks in the form of icing sugar and roses lime juice. Going back to after air reveals a yeasty / malty, note and along with it some bonfire smoke, charcoal, lavender, thyme and melted butter. It’s definitely up there with Octomore in terms of the peat, but this has an earthy dirtiness that is missing from recent Octomore releases we have tried.
We’re finding musk, lavender, and earthy dirt to be the dominate flavours, along with a touch of spice and heat from ginger and chilli. Going back to it and there’s liquorice, seawater, tobacco and cracked black pepper. It has a bite from the alcohol and you’d expect this to be more than 51%, but overall it’s got good alcohol integration. It’s also got a good mouth feel that's oily and coats the whole palate. There's a good length finish with seawater, sweetness and peat lingering. It’s definitely peaty but we were expecting a bigger hit of smoke.
Nose (with water)
Water brings out a savouriness on the nose, along with more citrus. We’re also reminded of a burning log fire, apple puree / red apples, peanuts and hazelnuts. Going back to it there’s burning newspapers and a touch of pineapple. The peat has been diminished slightly with water.
Palate (with water)
Unlike the nose, the water accentuates the peat on the palate. We’re also getting sweetness from white sugar cubes and chocolate. The chili and ginger spice had been dampened and we’re now getting more of a cinnamon spice. There’s a malty / yeasty note that reminds us of beer batter. The mouth feel remains good as does the finish which has developed a coffee note.
Ok, our main issue with this is the price, but it’s worth noting that it’s more costly for distilleries to up the PPM. If we judge this compared to recent Octomore releases then the price is not that unreasonable.. Well for something good.. and this is good. Some will enjoy this more than others. As we mentioned it’s a very dirty dram and if that’s your style then you’ve come to the right place. We’re giving this an 8/10.
We’ve reviewed a fair few of the committee releases now and because our scale takes in price you’ll find several of these have been given the same score. If you’re interested the below is a list of the bottles in order of preference ignoring price.
- Ardbeg Scorch Committee Release
- Ardbeg Hypernova Committee Release
- Ardbeg Fermutation Committee Release
- Ardbeg Grooves Committee Release
- Ardbeg Drum Committee Release
- Ardbeg Ardcore Committee Release
- Ardbeg Kelpie Committee Release
- Ardbeg Arrrrrrrdbeg! Committee Release
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.