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Heavily peated shootout - Octomore vs Supernova

 10 May 2009  

The Scottish island Islay is famous for its peaty single malts, and Ardbeg used to be the peatiest of them all. (Well, at least Ardbeg used the most heavily peated malt. Dif­fer­ently shaped stills allow dif­fer­ent amounts of the peaty phenols to come through into the dis­til­late and Ardbeg's got this thing called a "purifier" on its spirit still...)

Octomore Ardbeg Super­nova
OctomoreArdbeg Super­nova

In 2002, the Bruichladdich dis­til­lery started producing its Octomore brand using malt peated to well over 100 ppm phenols. That's more than twice as much as at Ardbeg (where they normally use 50 ppm, AFAIK). Ap­par­ently, the folks at Ardbeg couldn't let this go un­an­swered... Or maybe they had the same idea at the same time? =) Anyway, earlier this year Ardbeg an­noun­ced the Supernova, the most heavily peated Ardbeg ever, peated to "over 100 ppm".

Of course, this begs for a comparison of the two peat monsters... Here's my take:

Octomore Edition 01.1 63.5% (peated to 131 ppm):
Pungent, very peaty, earthy nose with cereal and iodine but there's also a delicate note of mint. Weird, but I like it! Earthy, musty palate, also quite sweet. Very peaty, of course, and there's a chemical note as well (must be all those phenols!). Powerful and brutal but en­ter­tain­ing! Very peaty finish with a note of mint. Very nice! Even though it isn't older than the "futures" bottling, "Edition 01.1" seems more mature. It's also more power­ful (even with water). (85 p)

Ardbeg Super­nova 58.9% (peated to over 100 ppm):
Very peaty nose, also fruity with a hint of mint. The palate is, some­what un­ex­pec­tedly, at first quite sweet and fruity, but it's drying and de­velops lots of peat. Very peaty, very nice finish with a lingering note of iodine. All in all, it's milder than the Octo­more and more civilized. But don't get me wrong, the Super­nova certainly packs a power­ful punch of peat! =) (86 p)

In terms of peat, the Octo­more is in a class of its own! The "Edition 01.1" is an im­provement over the "futures" bottling but I still think Octo­more needs a few more years in wood. Ardbeg's Super­nova is milder and less peaty but I pre­fer it over the raw Octo­more. I missed the op­por­tun­ity to buy the Committee bottling of Super­nova, but I'm not going to miss it when it goes on sale here in Sweden on June 1!

Thanks to Bernhard for the sample of Octo­more!

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