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Ardbeg is undoubtedly one of the most well-known and beloved malt whisky distilleries in the world. Founded by Alexander Stewart, Ardbeg’s first record as a distillery dates back to 1794, and commercial production began in 1815. During its long history the distillery was closed down on a number of occasions only to be reopened again by new owners each time. After having been mothballed in 1981 the distillery resumed production in 1989 and continued at a low level through to July 1996 when it closed again until the following year. In 1997 Ardbeg distillery was acquired by Glenmorangie plc (who shortly thereafter were taken over by Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) and production resumed. Ardbeg Alligator was released in 2011, and its name comes from the term “Alligator Charring” used in both Bourbon and Scotch to describe the method of charring the inside of the oak casks before they are filled with spirit. The burnt wood staves are said to look like an alligator’s scales.
The nose is rather delicate and a bit restrained: brine and very subdued smoke mingle with hints of lemon and vanilla. There is also a sweet element similar to marzipan or milk chocolate. This is a very refined and well balanced nose – I love it!
The palate is medium-bodied and creamy. There is now distinct smoke, followed by – again – brine and vanilla. Towards the end it becomes quite peppery, and in addition notes of ginger appear.
The finish is of medium length, dry and marked by light smoke and brine. At the end there are hints of dark chocolate and of coffee.
I am thrilled by this Ardbeg! The nose is an absolute winner, and compared with the other Ardbeg expressions I have tried the palate is very gentle and elegant. This is a fine and complex whisky that I enjoyed very much. Many thanks for providing the sample, Marc L.!