Ardbeg

Ardbeg Alligator 1999 (51.2%, OB, 2011)

Review: Ardbeg Alligator single malt scotch whisky

Ardbeg Distillery – Moet-Hennessy

51.2% ABV

£99.95 for 70cl from Master of Malt

Score: 93/100

ArdbegAlligator

What they say:

The general release of 2011’s much anticipated Ardbeg Committee Release – Alligator. It’s named for the high level of char on the inside of some of the casks used for maturation, which makes the wood look like alligator skin.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose:

Stunning aromas of charcoal, mulled wine and lemon icing sugar. Very creamy, with notes of vanilla and yoghurt, with a huge BBQ note. Some gingerbread and tangy apricots, and burning brown sugar.

Palate:

Creamy and zesty, with a huge whack of grapefruit and lemon, as well as BBQ sauce, ginger and orange zest. Like a really toasty rye whiskey in parts, with hints of icing sugar, cocoa, gingernut biscuits and intense smoke.

Finish:

Sweet and creamy with peppery, crackling peat smouldering away for hours.

Overall:

One of the best Ardbegs we’ve ever tasted. A mind-blowing malt!

What I say:

I first encountered the Alligator as malt of the month at the Rutherford’s Lounge Bar Edinburgh at £2.50 / dram I begged the bar staff to sell me the remainder of the bottle priced accordingly, but was refused as they would have to change their malt of the month and other customers could have been asking for it. Instead I duly purchased a large number of doubles over the rest of the evening and finished their bottle piecemeal. That was one work’s Christmas lunch to remember!

Since that time my Alligator spotting had drawn a blank until the Ardbeg evening with Dr Bill Lumsden at Royal Mile Whiskies, where I finally got another chance to re-sample this wonderful dram. Distilled in 1999 and bottled in 2011 (effectively 12 Years Old) around 40-50% of the casks were heavily charred, i.e. Number 4 or Alligator char, which leaves the wood textured like the skin of an alligator.

Colour:

Full amber gold (8/20) medium tears

Nose:

Caramel, fruity peach and apple, toasted oak, phenolic peat smoke, malty

Taste:

Light and fruity, vanilla, icing sugar, chalky like fruity pez sweeties or Edinburgh rock, apple, apricot, pear, peach, caramel, butterscotch fudge, earthy peat

Finish:

Medium-long, peat, malt and fruit in equal measures

Overall:

Still my favoured Ardbeg expression, a shame they didn’t decide to produce this ‘super-toasted oak’ version as their standard 12 Years Old expression!

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