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Ardbeg Alligator

Average score from 23 reviews and 53 ratings 89

Ardbeg Alligator

Product details

  • Brand: Ardbeg
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 51.2%

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@MaltActivist
Ardbeg Alligator

This is, in my opinion, the last of the good special release Ardbegs. I haven't cared much for the stuff that came after like the Day, Galileo and the AuriVerdes - though I quite liked the Ardbog for some reason.

Unashamed in it's approach it is brash and hard hitting but if you look close enough has a gentler, softer side to it as well.

The spirit is essentially the standard 10 year old but finished in heavily charred barrels to give it a stronger smokier (barbeque) flavor. These new barrels were charred so much that they started cracking on the inside and began to resemble alligator skin.

Or as some intern in their marketing department likes to call it, Islay-Gator.

(I will pause now for you to softly facepalm yourself)

Moving on...

I tasted the 'Gator when it came out and remember being blown away by it. It was actually one of the first Ardbegs I had ever tried (yes, I'm very new to whisky!) and, boy, am I glad it was this smokey monster!

These notes are from a brand new bottle.

Nose: Lots of ash with a sharp citrus drizzle on top. Butterscotch on barbequed sausage. I like how the smokey sweets play in tandem and don't let one overpower. The peat rolls in next on a bed of faint white flowers but what surprised me a touch was the red candy/licorice which added that touch of exotic. Wonderfully balanced nose.

Palate: The citrus on the nose turns into a lovely bitter marmalade spread. There is peaty ash with a generous green chilli and black peppercorn garnish. The delivery is quite creamy and has hints of mint sprig.

Finish: Long with that same exotic red licorice and spicy oranges.

This is a glorious dram and deserves the reputation it has garnered.

R

I've been saving my notes from a glass of Alligator that I savored a few months ago at the Highland Stillhouse. Here they are:

Nose: Charbroiled T-bone steak, creamy vanilla, lemon zest, Texas-style BBQ sauce, Anaheim (flame roasted) peppers, fruit compote, prunes, burnt butter brickle.

Palate: More lemon (fruit), ginger scones, challah toast, cinnamon, back bacon, vanilla meringue, Key lime pie, graham cracker, sea salt, generous wafts of sweet smoke, and a deep satisfying peat that is unique to Ardbeg.

Finish: Chicory, burnt challah, lovely rich peat, ocean brine, creosote pylons (as in an ocean wharf's), campfire coals hissing with delight.

This Ardbeg earned its name from the heavily charred casks that resembled the scaly skin of alligators in which this whisky was aged.

See my link to a review (below in the comments section) with Mick Secor, owner (publican) of the Highland Stillhouse in Oregon City.

Mick was instrumental in getting Ardbeg back into the USA in general, and into Oregon in particular, many years ago, when single malts were few and far between in these parts. He is a retired heart surgeon who just happens to own and operate one of the very best pubs in America, which is dearly loved by Jim Murray and many other whisky greats.

Mick the Publican is a wealth of knowledge about whiskies--especially those which hail from Islay.

The chat (below) with him is worth hearing. I, for one, learned a great deal shooting the breeze with Mick on the top floor of his creaky old pub (which is haunted, by the way). The Stillhouse perches atop a rocky craig of basalt overlooking the Willamette river.

I've been known to sit out on the wooden deck, sipping a mind-blowing scotch whilst gazing out over the cliff, far far below .. . where ancient falls, once tamed by dams, have begun to reclaim their former glory, inch by inch, in the shadow of Lovecraftian-style derelict warehouses and mills.

Aye, these tin-roofed monstrosities of concrete sag a bit more with every passing year, crumbling into Willamette's stigeon depths, where vast schools of sturgeon amass, lumbering, en masse, like Cthulhu, himself, across aeolean abyss that might well ebb and flow into another dimension for all I know . . . or is this ode merely the "living waters" talking? Anything is possible, for I have dined on honey dew and drunk the milk of paradise, come rain or shine, from atop the black cliffs of Mick's eldritch haunt, o're looking Mother Nature's proxy & industry's loss far far below. . . .

As I mention in the video, my praise for the Highland Stillhouse is completely honest. I have received no kickbacks of any kind. If it weren't for the Stillhouse, I very much doubt that I would have become a whisky connosr.

With over 500 whiskies, and a helpful staff, it has proved to be a valuable resource in my continuing exploration of fine and rare scotches.

Here's the "bar-side chat" with Mick: www.youtube.com/watch

A

The Ardbeg Alligator was the first whisky I rated as expensive that I bought. It was a few years back a couple of weeks before Christmas, when, in a busy store, my friend and I probably looked too young to be taken seriously as whisky drinkers. I had a taste however and went home with a bottle (haven’t shopped there since, though…) And now, a semester is over, which calls for a celebratory dram. Also, I feel an illness of the throat coming on (no, I’m not learning Dutch), so I thought I’d send down the Alligator to kill whatever is trying to kill me.

Nose: First impression is peat on a bonfire. Phew, this is good stuff. Freshly ground coffee beans are sprinkled over a savoury barbecue sauce and seaweed with fresh citrus and lemongrass complete the dish (doesn’t really sound appetising in my opinion, but the folks at Ardbeg are a silly bunch). Mint leaves and candy slowly creep out from the background with touches of heather, and a crisp, fresh green apple mixed with sweet pear punctuates the whole ordeal.

An interesting little side note here: Many Islay distilleries (Ardbeg more than most) pride themselves on high levels of phenols in their whiskies, as this relates to how peaty the whisky is. But did you know that the phenol primarily responsible for the peaty smell / taste is a compound called guaiacol? What’s more interesting, this phenol is derived from hydrolysis (basically a type of molecular breakdown, if you’re not chemistry savvy) of lignin, an integral part of plant cell walls. As such, guaiacol is also found in things like wood smoke and (and this is my favourite part) roasted coffee! Did you ever wonder, why your peated whisky had those delicious coffee notes? Anyway, so much for a ‘little’ side note.

Palate: What can this little beast do? As you drink it in, you’re walking along the water in the bog, tasting the sweet peaty water – there’s no alligator here! But wait- what’s that? And snap! it emerges from the water and bites you without as much as a by your leave before you have time to call out “mum!” Alligators in a temperate climate!? Chewy, spicy, smoky and savoury, this is to be treasured. After a short while, sweetness prevails over spice, and the apple and pear of the nose truly shine, now mixed with juicy peaches, and – what’s that? Coffee? Could it be?

Finish: The sweetness persists for a surprising amount of time into the finish. It’s like a tarte tatin prepared on the grill. Delicious fruit and soot.

The alligator (as any new expression of Ardbeg) has sparked many different opinions across the web. Some hate it, some love it. I place myself in the latter category.

This is my second review, and also my second review of an Ardbeg. If I told you there would be no more of these, I would be lying, but I promise to renew myself at some point. At some point. But for now: This is smart stuff.

Great review, never came across one of those bottles

@Victor

Ardbeg Alligator was a Committee Release, and then a limited general release in 2011. The whisky was matured in heavily charred, viz. "Alligator Char" NEW oak barrels. The reviewed sample is compliments of @Nock

Nose: this differs from other Ardbegs in having a very sharp up-front greeting of smoke FUSED with wood sugar. That's one of the things which new charred oak will do, give you a lot of wood sugar. I really like it. Otherwise the Ardbeg house style of strong smoke, strong peat, strong brine, and maybe just a hint of fruit applies here

Taste: Huge flavours! very rich tasting with very sharp pointed flavours of peat, smoke, brine, barley, and charred oak; very engaging and very intense in a style similar to Corryvreckan,...but, the harmony of these flavours together is good, but not great

Finish: long finish with plenty of flavour, unfortunately this goes strongly to the sour by the end

Balance: Ardbeg Alligator has big big interesting flavours, but is not one of the more balanced releases by Ardbeg. I found myself enjoying individual flavours and features of Alligator and not the whisky as a coherent whole. I passed up buying a bottle of Alligator when I had the opportunity, and I am not sorry that I did. This Alligator is a very vivid and interesting whisky, but I consider it to be one of the lesser Ardbegs

R

Tasted the Alligator for the first time last night. Gentle smoke, peat, graham cracker pie crust, clotted cream, toffee. No detailed tasting notes since it is unobtanium at this point.

I also enjoyed glasses of Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch Three, Yoichi 15, Campbeltown Loch 25, and Glen Elgin 16.

Feeling a bit under the weather today. Fun time though last night, and yes, about approx. 30% of the above ended up in my friends' mouths. Augh. That didn't sound right. I shared the glasses, and yes, I did try to keep my side of the glasses turned and I made a mental note of where the glass rim was still clean. Actually, I must confess that I'm something of a germaphobe, but I'm trying to overcome the aversion.

Be this as it may, I've never been a miser. Maybe a red-headed bastard stepchild, but never a miser.

Word had it this one was a winner and word was correct. And now, it is all gone. Goodbye sweet Ardie, goodbye. Perhaps we shall meet again in a better world. Ralf the Mouth never sang thy praises, but alas it should have.

In the meantime, there's always . . . the Mouth of Sauron?

www.youtube.com/watch

Actually, to amend the title: it should read "We wants more. . . ." Gollum usually spoke in the royal "we" (himself and the precious ring of great power)which was symbolic of the Planet Saturn, I should think. Why? Well . . . ever hear of the Saturnian Death Cult? I have and I'm certainly not a card carrying member. How did I hear of it? Well, there's this thing called the Internet. . . and, yes, some things one ferrets out of obscure websites actually turn out to be true, although one has little way of knowing for sure. . . .

I fear I will forever regret not getting this one. Soon after returning to Sendai, I was in a downtown liquor store and this elusive bottle was sitting on the shelf. I only had a little cash on me and the shop didn't take credit cards. I went back the next day but it was gone... : (

@vanPelt

Nose: Briny leather strikes you at first pour; rubbery kind of peat that eventually fades to that lemon pudding impression. Behind this arrives a fresh garden rhubarb, or the bitter skin of a fruit. Then you realize this fruit is stewing into a compote, mulling along with smooth sweetness of orange peels and some cinnamon and ginger. A continued waft can pull out salty toffee or butterscotch.

Palate: Immediate attack of pepper-brine-leather... turning tangy (bittermelon)... noticeably collapsing to tobacco-vanilla mellowness... and this finally followed by subtleties: first liquorice, then pepper.

Finish: Long, with the pepper fading into vanilla & nut, the nut with a hinted bitterness found in almonds or apricot pits. The peat adds some tobacco to this, and then there is a sensation, not like barbecue sauce but like I have just eaten some a minute ago.

I think many would wonder how this contrasts with the Uigeadail; it is clear from most descriptions that both are smoky, fruity, and spicy. Compared to Uigeadail, the Alligator is more challenging: relatively less sweet and more bitter; less vanilla softness and more toffee saltiness; less red and more orange; and the peat is less ash and more leather. So sweet/vanilla/red/ash -> bitter/toffee/orange/leather, in relative terms. It is comparatively unbalanced, with more salty, tangy, and bitter notes. Then again, compared with the Corryvreckan (salt/maple/lemon/ash), the Alligator is actually less salty and a little more of sweet/bitter. In this way, the Alligator might be considered to fall between the Uigeadail (sweeter and rounder) and the Corryvreckan (saltier and sharper).

1/2 Year later: The nose is still briny and rubbery, but it has lost some of the smoke. The palate is sweeter: that entrance now has some toffee, and the palate now gives the impression of juicy sweet oranges that have been salted and blackened on the grill. The finish is unfortunately duller now and dry with liquorice. But for the improved palate experience alone, I would bump this up a notch to 87.

@Pierre_W

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.!

@Onibubba

I have had this bottle opened for about a month. A good third is remaining. I only mention this for the interests of oxidization effects, if any.

I really enjoyed this the night I opened it, and immediately regretted not buying more. Hopefully some will remain once funds are available.

Smell: Still loving this. Tonight it is hitting me with the most pungent and bitter orange peel. Some underlying ginger. I say tonight, because it is different every time.

Taste: Fairly mouth and throat coating taste of peppery smoldering vanilla. Burnt marshmallow over a campfire. Salty and sweet...And, my mouth is watering. Must mean I need another sip.

This is really well done stuff. Alcohol is at a manageable w/o water level. Has a lovely lingering anise/fennel burn. Completely happy with the price of $110.00. Would not hesitate to bunker a couple of bottles if I could.

@BlueNote, there is a guy featured in the current issue of Malt Advocate with just such a "bunker".

@Onibubba. A person needs a seperate bunker just dedicated to all the great Ardbeg releases.

n

Nose: tar, sweet stewed root vegetable, small amount of salty brine, bbq sauce

Palate: sweet honey, bbq, burnt tar, pepper, lemon. Chilis.

Finish: long, with a solid admixture of light pepper, bbq, and sweetness.

I may be the outlier on this. Every time I have this, the palate entry seems to be full of sweet honey, followed by pepper and tar/heavy charcoal bbq. Other tasters haven't noted it, but it's happened every time. In that way, to me, it's almost more of a dessert/digestif in itself. It's excellent, and gives a pleasantly oily mouthfeel, though the sweetness still baffles me somewhat.

@markjedi1

Note: this is a review of the Committe Reserve bottling of the Ardbeg Alligator.

While I pour the last dram from my bottle of Alligator, I look up my tasting notes to see how I initially liked this. Only to find out that I have not yet published my tasting notes, while this was arguably the most anticipated release of 2011. Doh! Let us fix that. OK, let me start with a short expo. The name Alligator points to the look of the staves inside the heavily charred cask. I am sure you were already aware. In March 2011, the Committee Release (which I am emptying today) appeared, followed by the still easily obtainable general release in June 2011.

It is less peated than the 10 Year Old and has a much sweeter nose. Next to Wellington boots, sea salt and oysters, I get wonderful whiffs of marzipan and rhubarb jam, even some bitter orange marmalade. A big dose of liquorice and ginger. Water cress. Dried grass. And that wonderful A1 barbecue sauce that I always poured on my T-bone steak in the States. Ah, I love it.

The mouthfeel is round on apples and grapefruit with quite a bit of spice. Salt and sweet at the same time. Chili peppers, cinnamon and ribs on the BBQ (obviously coated in the delicious A1 sauce), loads of liquorice and a hint of vanilla. Enticing.

The fairly long finish continues on almonds and dries your mouth completely.

Like said, this was a very hyped release and it is more than good, definitely on par with the Rollercoaster. Bill Lumdsen also dropped hints that 2012 might see a Committee Release in 2012 of something he described as the ‘Son of Alligator’. Hmm, I wonder what he means by that? I am looking forward to it.

J

[General Release]

Nose: lemon zest, charcoal and peat, vinilla icing sugar, toasted ginger bread, burnt sugar, ashes that come out of a used BBQ, burnt malt, slight smoke

Palate: tangy, creamy, small amounts of peat, ginger, orange and lemon peels, burnt toast, BBQ charcoals, icing sugar sweetness, very zesty tang

Finish: peppery, dried orange peels, light peat and charcoal, creamy vinilla.

Not a peat bomb like normal ardbegs at all. Not 100% sure what the producers ment by BBQ notes, if they ment the taste of meaty charcoal that comes from a used BBQ then I kind of get it (thats what I ment by BBQ) if they mean BBQ as in BBQ sause I didn't get those notes at all.

@MaltActivist

Very typically Ardbeg on the nose. Lots of peat delivering a good quantity of spices and licorice. The delivery takes you by surprise as you expect something gigantic but what you get is, in fact, very robust and approachable. There is a sweetness in there, maybe a touch of chocolate and with that you get the trademark Ardbeg spices on top of gorgeous smoky oak! Long satisfying finish. Another reason to move to the Islays.

@Adaaam75

I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of Alligator for xmas 2012. I love the Highland sherry casked light flavoured bottles almost as much as peaty whiskies.

To my surprise this had the qualities of both, a wonderfully spicey wave of peat greets you reminding you of the heritage of Islay and then the unexpected light citrus fruit and vanilla washes through over the undertones of smoke.

A delicious creamy, peat smoke/fruity bottle that combines perfectly in a way I wouldn't have thought possible. An instant favourite which will be hard to beat.

Nice review which I can only second. It's a great whisky to be sure! Also, it does get a bit softer and more well mannered with a slight splash of water - which is the exact opposite to what I think when it comes to the Ardbeg TEN.

Splendid old chap...good review

@Vinodiuz

After some home-cleaning, I took my lunch with a great huge sandwich with roasted pork with some spicy, peppery BBQ-sauce. Delicious! So as I thought why not take a good glass of dram with some BBQ infleunces in it?! And yes here we got my most, best ever whisky from this time yet! The maqnifecent Alligator of Ardbeg. So as you already read my reviews, I love Ardbeg a lot. So here my review of this delicious dram.

Nose: Ufcourse BBQ sauce, spicy, peppery and chillies. But also on the background are elements of chocolate and espresso coffee. Flowers and fruits as well.

Taste: BBQ sauce, smokey, lightly spiced of red peppers and a delicious bite in it. Savoury parts of roasted pork and spiced marinade ribs. The aftertaste gives great delicate of dark roasted coffee, caramel and toffee with it.

Finish: long, cuban-cigars, sweetness of roasted nuts with brown sugar syrup. With a fantastic peat behind.

Fantastic, delicious piece of Art of Ardbeg. I'm really glad that I own a bottle. It is rare and quite hard to find. I know there are some bottles available, so be hurry to get one! And I really recommend to buy this great dram. From the alcohol of 51.2% it is totally not a strong whisky to drink. It is delicate and smooth.

I scored 100 out of 100, cause in this legendary dram is nothing wrong to telling about.

Can imagine that you want this fanastic, legendary whisky! I hope that there are some bottles available in Canada. Let me know, if you get one great bottle of Ardbeg 'Alligator'.

@ssmith84

When I first got this bottle I was extremely excited and promised myself that I would wait to open it for some special occasion. Well got a decent raise at work and decided the stress of two weeks prior would only be relieved by the bite of an Alligator, and this is what I think...

nose... On the nose there is peat, smoke, and a strange earthy salt ever so common in the Islay malts. It has a bit of a bite that I'm unsure of. Almost makes me think it may be a bit young. Water did not add much to the nose. There was the faint addition of a sweetness that I can't put my nose on.

palate... Strong peaty/earthy flavor and a briny taste that i really like. There is a sizzling bbq taste that comes from the new heavily charred bourbon barrels that they have used to make this whisky unique from their other bottlings. The smoke is nice and pleasent. With water a soft sweet New York Vanilla note seemed to poke it's head out. It was a much valued improvement over the intense peat monster that seemed to lacked in complexity before.

finish... The finish has a bit of a burn on my tongue, but it is smooth going down. A medium length finish, very phenolic and a little ashy, not quite as long as I would have liked. Nothing substantial changed in the finish after the addition of water. The burn was slightly lessened.

The addition of water seemed to help open the whisky into a slightly gentler creature. It was an improvement overall on the taste. The nose didn't seem to change much and the most disappointing feature, the finish, was not helped at all. Overall, I liked the nose and loved the taste, but the finish lowered the whole experience for me.

At the price point I think it was a little too expensive for the whisky in the bottle. I may have been expecting far too much from it but I felt cheated for the money I spent. Price was about the same as a Lagavulin 16yo that has never let me down.

@Dellnola

Nose: Sea air, charred oak, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, fried pork cracklings, orange coated in dark chocolate, bitter mint, a little vanilla, cinnamon and icing, burnt marshmallows, and very lovely allspice.

Taste: Lots of pepper, charred oak again, sweet orange, bitter chocolate, cinnamon, sea water, and mild peat. Not as "Ardbeggy" as I'd like.

Finish: Spicy, burning herbs, a bit of malt (cornflakes?), some peat and char.

Quite an interesting Ardbeg this is. I didn't get those BBQ sauce notes that everyone describes but perhaps all those spices that I got are to others BBQ. One thing is for sure, the extra char on the barrels really made a difference. Perhaps the greatest thing about the Alligator is how strongly I get that fried pork crackling note on the nose. I simply adore it. It's just like the pork crackling we have here in Louisiana, seasoned with cayenne, paprika, and a tiny pinch of sugar.

Although this isn't your standard Ardbeg, fans of the 10 year old will notice similarities. I must admit, I like the Alligator a bit more because I feel it is a bit more complex.

@shimaaji
@Kutter

I had the chance to taste the islay-gator at an event. I knew it was there and I started with the ardbeg table so I can taste it while my taste buds are still alive !

NOSE: burnt wood with cigar in it, fire camp smoke also. But I found it a bit shy. I expected a more powerful nose

MOUTH: cigar, chocolate, coffee, smoke and peat... lots of burnt note. You can see that this whisky is young

FINALE: long and burnt with cigar notes.

CONCLUSION: A very nice dram, Ardbeg created something new and interesting, although it is still signed by the distillery characteristics fire camp smoke. I think the gator is a tad shy for a so powerful animal, but maybe it has something to do with is young age and the price is maybe a bit high for this baby. But is worth tasting it for sure...

@Alanjp

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a bottle of the Ardbeg Alligator Committee Reserve release, and having recently had great experiences with Islay malts (Laphroaig mainly) I had high hopes for this animal.

My expectations were surpassed quite quickly, after seeing the golden colour and smelling the smoky, charred wood, BBQ filled aroma. It was a heavy hitter and actually caught me by surprise!

The charred wood and BBQ characteristics continued into the taste, where a lot more appeared as well. I picked up a spring-like aroma, full of the joys of spring as they say, and would liken it to those sweets, the Rainbow Drops.

There was a fruity finish filled with peat smoke, and it lingered for just long enough!

In closing, it's an absolute beast of a dram, a true animal of Islay, and one I'll enjoy again and again. If you're a cigar person like me, spark a large one up to accompany a dram of this, and you'll experience exquisite pleasure!

@galg

Colour: Darker than the 10 year old. I wonder if the extra charred wood is the culprit… Nose: Sweeter than the 10 year old, with less lemony notes, vanilla, spice, pepper, BBQ sauce, Peat and Charcoal , some brine, and also toffee and burnt sugar as in the Brule crust. Lovely and quite complex until now. Palate: Heavy but not ultra peaty, but very Smokey as in smoked tobacco leaves, leftovers of a cigar, quite chilly and peppery with a gingery zing on the tongue as well. more than the 10 year old. Liquorice and dark tea, as well as other spices i can’t quite pinpoint. Not a peat monster at all (less peaty than the 10 or the Corry by far) Finish : Long, with a lot of ash, pepper and gingery zing, spice, and some burnt wood.

Bottom line :

This is a very good dram. well made. It did not blow off my mind , but it’s well made, very enjoyable and offers a little variation on the 10 year old profile. If you love Ardbegs, and a little spiciness does not scare you off, it’s a bottle you should own. It’s not too expensive. I think i will opt for a bottle when the OB comes in a few months time.

@Pierre

Nose: on first approach I’m greeted by distinct notes of ripe cherries buoyed by a wisp of milkiness (akin to the breath of a baby after feeding). The nose develops with background hints of resin and menthol. After a while some mango joins in.

With the addition of water the milky notes subside and the ripe cherries are coated in caramelised sugar which soon morphs to sweet cured bacon on a barbecue. Finally some menthol and hint of peat smoke.

Palate: Rich and fruity with some powerful, and dry, woody flavours. Developing to a very enjoyable spicy bitterness in the mid palate. Finally some dry charcoal smoke. The maritime influence is restrained throughout with just a hint of saltiness and the peat taking a backseat to the fruit and spice.

Following the addition of water, the fruit becomes more pronounced producing some delightfully fizzy sensations on the tongue - like cherry candy. Drying out to that pleasing bitterness accompanied by some liquorice.

Finish: long and satisfying. Dry smoke, tar and spice.

Comments: a very satisfying Ardbeg, not my absolute favourite but certainly worth investigating.

I had a sample too and managed to buy 2 bottles. I guess these will later on be known as the special committee reserves... In the Netherlands the Alligator will available (not the committee reserves!) from september at the Ardbeg embassies and in octobre at other retailers. To my taste the Alligator is very sweet and has not the breathtaking Ardbeg power. It is not a Rollercoaster or Supernova. But defenitely Ardbeg (though it reminds me a bit of certain Caol Ila) and in summer this is fine with me. And as it's raining all day here now, I don't mind. I'll do the old sing along thing.."Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain..." I agree with 88/100

'akin to the breath of a baby after feeding' - now there's a comparison! Lovely. I got to taste this one last Saturday at The Whisky Exchange in London (they offer a dram from a 4,5L bottle to every committee member that shows up) and enjoyed it quite a bit, although I felt it was quite young-ish.

@WhiskyNotes

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.

Still, an 88 from you is one heck of an endorsement, @WhisyNotes! Lovely review, as always.

@dougwatts

The colour is a pleasant mid amber. On the nose peat dominates but initially it is sweeter than your usual heavily peated malt. I get a whiff of marzipan. After a few minutes nosing I get some more savoury notes coming through, some damp wood or compost. For a 51.2% spirit the nose is actually quite gentle, and I get a lovely faint hint of rose right at the end.

In the mouth it is pleasingly peaty but not at all overpowering. Definitely a more spicy smoke than a hot burning smoke. But those flavours are wrapped in a warmer, sweeter more gentle mouth taste than I am used to from Ardbeg (or other Islays (though I readily accept I’m no peat-freak)).

Any burn on the finish is short lived – actually shorter than I expected – but despite that quickly subsiding the remainder of the finish lingers on for a good time, leading to much chewing, appreciating the fading flavour notes.

With a few drops of water the difference is quite pronounced. I get toffee and vanillas on the nose and if I sniff for a while that hint of rose in the background seems to become citrusy. It’s a beautiful nose once its been opened up with water. Similarly in the mouth it takes on a more bourbon-y character than I thought it had neat.

Overall, it actually isn’t what I was expecting. I’d say the peat plays second fiddle here to what else is going on around it. I personally don’t get the BBQ and cumin and so on that the official tasting notes talk about, but I often find trying to match ‘official’ notes to my own experience a fruitless and frustrating task. But there is a lot happening and the peat and smoke just fit nicely into the mix. I like it a lot.

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