Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Lake Placid... The Ardbeg Alligator

"Row row row your boat gently down the stream, if you see an Islay-gator don't forget to scream. Arghh!"

This is how I remember the nursery rhyme going... I think. Today's review has no unnecessary story precluding the stuff about the whisky. The Alligator is a story in itself. The basic background information you need to know is that Ardbeg charred ex-Bourbon casks to the maximum, leaving an alligator skin-like effect on the inside of the barrels and the result is a massive, hold that thought... MASSIVE whisky. To put that into context; aside from my good self I have seen two other people sample the Alligator, all three of us took a sip and went "Oh!?" Followed swiftly by, "Arghh!" as the finish took hold. The Alligator is aptly named: The nose is massive and meaty although softer than I expected leading me into a false sense of security, the palate took me by surprise, then the finish pulled me under the surface to a dark demise.

For me the Alligator has a sentimental value. It is the first whisky I have waited anxiously for and it was reading blogs about it months ago that inspired me to begin the one you are reading currently. Needless to say I was excited to finally get hold of this snappy (pun intended) whisky. Besides my sentimentality I was also excited to battle this Alligator because if there is one thing I like about whisky it is experimentation, so to try a whisky from an experiment that aggressively chars casks was always going to be a winner for me. But enough of this tittle-tattle; the whisky... [cue Jaws theme tune]

Ardbeg Alligator
51.2% - No Age Statement
Nose: A marshmallow smokiness I associate with Ardbeg quickly muscled out of the way by pounds of smoked bacon. As the dram opens up vanilla, bubble gum and soft fruits emerge with a smell I associate with sandy beaches. Finally a charcoal element crowds in reminding us of this reptile's Islay heritage.
Palate: Very rich with a snap of lollipop fruitiness, creamy with with white chocolate mixed in. Throughout all of this peat lurks in the background, stalking its prey...
Finish: Arghh! This is where the Alligator keeps its teeth, massive chimneys of smoke, an earthy quality that crashes in waves and remains for a very very long time. I woke up 6 hours later still tasting peat smoke.
Overall: A whisky to dwarf all whiskies. I don't remember the Supernova being this punchy, although like the Supernova the Alligator has perfect balance and an incredibly long finish. A big meaty barbecue of a dram. Now to watch some Crocodile Dundee!


  1. So, do you reckon it needs a health warning attached to it?!

  2. A health warning or a reinforced palate. I was expecting a big whisky just was not expecting that finish lol

  3. I think it's the adult equivalent of stuffing as many sour sweets in your mouth as possible and trying not to make a funny face...

  4. Just polished of the remainder of my bottle, and after a few glasses I thought it much more enjoyable. At first I was unsure, but it definitely grows on you.