I know this isn’t a new release, but I didn’t write a review about last year special release Ardbeg until now, so it is time to solve that fault. It is known as the Alligator due to the Alligator style of charcoaling, although the marketing campaign let us believe that there were Alligators on Islay once. What a marketing! There are two versions of this one, one committee release and a general release. This review is about the general release, which isn’t widely available any more, but if you carefully look around you might encounter it somewhere at a store, probably way above the introduction price. It comes at an ABV of 51,2% and has as usual no age statement.
The nose is starting a bit sweeter than the usual Ardbegs. The distinct peat level seems less stringent then I would expect, but there is a lot of smokiness going on. Burnt rubber, burnt wood and charcoal, or more poetic a smouldering campfire near the ocean shore. There are definitely coastal influences present, saltiness and slightly putrefying sea weed. After a few minutes the fresh citrus notes appears and burnt vanilla as in the crust of a crème brulée as some marzipan sweetness, but still the earthy notes as in peat (not burned but being harvested) and clay are still very present. Very pleasant and complex nose. Lots going on.
Distinct and heavy profile. Not ultra peaty, but again as stated earlier with a lot of smoke. Smokey as in smoked tea (Lapsang Souchong) and smouldering wood. Lots of oak, but balanced with citrus fruits. Barbecue smells. Burnt coal, grilled meat with a salty, sweet and spiced up piece of meat or sauce. Less complex then the nose but still great.
Well as you would expect burning smoke and drying peat forming a long pleasant feel when you swallow your sip. Bit youngish, with a slight bitterness, chocolate and ashes. The spiciness is less present, finally the peat is showing its distinct power.
Nicely balanced, pleasant drinkable Ardbeg. Not the best I tasted so far, but that doesn’t matter. I happily enjoy this dram of whisky. Albeit slightly off the clear and peated dram Ardbeg supposed to be. This is at unexpected moments rougher as a semi-wild animal. Nice and pleasant at one time, and just as you are going to be good friends it turns on you and attack you with lots of smoke and ashes.
I have to say, this is a pleasant and very good Ardbeg, but it isn’t as good as the earlier reviewed Ardbeg Day and coming way (well relatively speaking) short to the extremely outstanding Uigeadail. Don’t know exactly why, but I would score this a solid 87 points though.
There are some rumours that there will be (somewhere this year) a follow-up named the “Son of the Alligator” If it is true or not I don’t know, but if it shows I want one!.