Nice coincidence: Today I am going to post the review of the new Ardbeg Alligator, and my fellow Malt Maniac Serge, who blogs at ‚whiskyfun.com‘, had the same idea. If you want more ‚e-pinions‘, go visit him as well …
Originally presented as limited Committee Release, this Ardbeg has been matured or finished in heavily-charred American white oak barrels. The spirit inside both versions is identical. The name ‚Alligator‘ stems from the maximum toasting level of casks (4), at which the wood looks like the skin of a crocodile (comparable to a log in a burnt-down bonfire). Wine- and spirit producers use differently toasted casks because they render a different kind of taste in the final result after maturation.
Although it doesn’t matter in terms of rating, I have to compliment the bottle designers. The box of the „untamed“ release has a feel and look of an Alligator’s skin and the croc-theme is carried through all the way from the logo to the tasting note and the descriptions. Well done! Let’s see if the whisky can keep up with its outfit.
Do these jaws have teeth?
Nose: Well-balanced and less peaty than one would expect from an Ardbeg (did the charcoal have a filtering effect like it is used for smoothing out Jack Daniel’s Whisky?) but still a southcoast Islay dram with tar, smoke and guess what: charcoal, burnt resin and smoke. The leading aromas aside from that are big notes of Barbecue sauce and pickled gherkins in dill (a real ‚McRib‘ Sandwich), a honeyish sweetness, green apples and rooty dried herbs. It keeps changing and also delivers cappuccino, lemon zest, cumin, pepper and pine.
Palate: Now it really departs from usual Ardbegs – it is lighter in style, saltier (brine) and less complex. Tamed Islay character with resin meets the pickled gherkins in dill again, making way for a rather sour character with a little fruit.
Finish: The croc earns my respect here. Aside from the leading aromas, a wonderful mix of peat, iodine and sulphur (children’s gun) plus some chalk and coffee sticks with the drinker for a long time.
Comment: In Germany this Ardbeg was officially presented to the public at a barbecue in Munich. Whoever came up with this idea, kudos! It really fits the taste. This version is different, and therefore, it makes sense inside the Ardbeg range. I liked the multi-faceted aroma and the nice finish without the cactus and eucalypt that bothered me at some newer bottlings. Not very complex, but dangerously drinkable. Snappy!