I found very interesting tasting notes of the heavily peated Ardbeg and Bruichladdich whiskies on the Whisky Exchange Blog. As most of you know Bruichladdich released the worlds heaviest peated whisky in 2008 under the name Octomore, the name of one of Islay's lost distilleries. The release of Octomore was limited and sold out before it was officially launched. More or less at the same time Ardbeg released their peat monster called Supernova. Both Octomore and Supernova are whiskies with an extremely high peat level which is characteristic of the southern Islay distilleries although not in these high levels.
The authors of the Whisky Exchange Blog held a nosing and tasting session together with the authors of Caskstrength.net. Both blogs are well known and appreciated in the online whisky community. In their post they claim that "peating levels shouldnâ€™t be a competition" and christened this tasting "The Mega Peat Face-Off". A quote from the end results:
You can probably tell that I felt that the Ardbegs showed better than the Octomores on the night, and I think this was the view of the other guys as well. I think itâ€™s clear that these kind of uber-peated whiskies are fine as long as thereâ€™s other flavours in there to balance them out. Without balance they can be a bit mono-dimenensional. To sum up, in my view the law of diminishing returns applies to ppm and there is such a thing as â€˜too peatyâ€™ - itâ€™s when you canâ€™t taste anything else. Overall, the Octomores probably were peatier, but peatiness in itself shouldnâ€™t be the object of a whisky, and the Ardbegs were both more enjoyable because of their broader range of flavours. No doubt future releases of Octomore will show the extra maturity and more complex flavours that a very peaty whisky needs.
Make sure to read the heavily peated article at Whisky Exchange Blog.