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Well here it is, the long awaited Ardbeg Alligator. The name comes from the term “Alligator Charring” used in both bourbon and Scotch to describe the method of charring the inside of the (Virgin) oak casks before they are filled with spirit. The burnt wood staves are said to look like alligator’s scales.
Ardbeg Alligator (51,2%, OB 2011, Committee release, around 10.000 btl.)
Nose: it shows all the power of Ardbeg 10, with charcoal, medicinal peat and smoke, but also added notes of cocoa, marzipan and sweet barbecue sauce. A little vanilla and burnt sugar. Nice balance of sweet and savoury notes. Definitely less lemon notes, this one is darker and warmer. I like it. With some water, the toffee / vanilla combo stands out, and some fresh lemon shows up.
Mouth: medium weight and medium peat, more gentle than I’ve come to expect from Ardbeg lately. Lots of pepper and ginger. Some cardamom. Charcoal and vanilla. Some liquorice. Evolves around spices, but it remains a little youngish maybe.
Finish: tarry with coffee and chocolate, but shorter than expected.
A nice Ardbeg: darker, warmer and sweeter than Ardbeg 10, with a “modern” wood influence. Not quite what I hoped for based on cask #1189 and #1190 but then again these casks had a different treatment. I like the result, but the complexity seems a little under par compared to some classic expressions.