What you need to know:
- Ardbeg to release Ardbeg Hypernova expression in 2022 as a Committee Release.
- Said to be the smokiest Ardbeg till date, "notes of pungent peat smoke, aniseed and toasted lavender, while bitter almonds and dark chocolates fuse with curious hints of plasticine and burnt rubber. Descend into a finish that collapses in on itself, before returning to earthy notes of roasted coffee and smoky heather."
- Bottled at 51% ABV, priced at an RRP of 190 GBP or 210 USD.
- I'm particularly curious about the toasted lavender and smoky heather notes, which makes me throw out two moonshot speculations, the use of peated floor malted barley from Port Ellen and the use of heather in the kilns during malting. We'll only know in due time!
(Image Source: Ardbeg)
First there was the Ardbeg Supernova, now we have the Ardbeg Hypernova for 2022!
What's next? Ardbeg Meganova?
Don't knock it, Ardbeg might just surprise you.
We're getting a first glimpse of this new Committee Release, which by the way is free to join on the Ardbeg website (here). Of all the Scotch communities, I dare say Ardbeg runs perhaps one of the best, regularly releasing new bottles for committee members to click furiously for a shot at bagging one.
“This is without a doubt the smokiest Ardbeg ever. We wanted to really push the boundaries this time and boldly go where Ardbeg has never ventured before.
A hypernova is a collapsing star explosion so powerful it threatens the fabric of the galaxy – while I don’t think this whisky will tear a hole in space and time, it’s certainly bursting with fantastically peaty flavour.”
- Dr Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg Director of Distilling and Whisky Creation
“Hypernova turns on the afterburners and hauls our spirit into smoky new depths.
Highly experimental, this whisky is peaty and intense, with a taste that’s totally surreal. This spirit is not just a slice of Ardbeg history, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event – not to be missed.”
- Colin Gordon, Ardbeg Distillery Manager
Parsing the front label, we see a brief description that goes,
Proper your palate at full force towards the smokiest dram ever to mature into existence at Ardbeg. Discover fabric-tearingly intense notes of tar, creosote and soot. Venture further into the glass and explore ethereal whispers of aniseed, smoke and dark chocolate.
You know how you can tell it's an Ardbeg? When the description on the bottle label always sounds alarming - like each bottle just casually carries a very nicely designed warning sign. The new expression boasts phenol levels exceeding 170ppm (parts per million).
(Image Source: Ardbeg)
The back label tells us alittle more,
Possibly the smokiest dram in the world (this one at least), Hypernova possesses a malty magnitude never before experienced. This is a brutally smoky dram that radiates flavour in every direction. Undoubtedly Ardbeg's smokiest spirit, HN22 is a cataclysmic event for the Distillery. It's big, it's intense and it's pulling palates into a whole new dimension...
Explore notes of pungent peat smoke, aniseed and toasted lavender, while bitter almonds and dark chocolates fuse with curious hints of plasticine and burnt rubber. Descend into a finish that collapses in on itself, before returning to earthy notes of roasted coffee and smoky heather.
Oof! Where do we even begin? Well, first off, we also know from the label that this is bottled at 51% ABV, which is reasonably high proof, also we're told that the RRP is 190 GBP or 210 USD for the NAS bottling, available in October 2022.
Also aside from the usual peat, smoke, tar, even the plasticine and burnt rubber - typical Ardbeg flavors, what catches my eye is the mention of how malty it is and the toasted lavender note and the smokey heather on the finish.
Port Ellen has in the past supplied Ardbeg with peated floor malted barley. (Image Source: Islay Blog)
That gets me wondering if this comes from peated floor malted barley from the nearby Port Ellen facility that has in the past run floor malting operations. This isn't terribly unusual, Ardbeg has used peated malted barley from the fabled Port Ellen.
Separately, I'm curious if the toasted lavender and smokey heather notes comes from heather being toasted in the kiln during malting. Heather being an evergreen pink shrub that can be found in Scotland, even specifically named Scotch heather, that is known to hold peat about its roots and offers a woody and mossy, but also gentle honeysuckle scent. Generally it is known to be of light floral tones and heavy musky notes.
Purple shrubs of heather on a Scottish highland. (Image Source: Dreamstime)
Thus far that's all speculation, but certainly we'll be excited to find out more about this Ardbeg expression.
That aside, it is a pricey bottling for what is other an NAS expression. Will that stop the legions of Ardbeg fans? Doubt it.
If you liked reading about the Ardbeg Hypernova, you'll probably like these too:
- Ardbeg BlaaacK, Ardbeg Day Committee 20th Anniversary, 46%, OB, NAS, 2020
- Ardbeg Day 2022 Ardcore Unveiled!
- Ardbeg's X-Men Whisky, Fermutation!