Ardbeg Alligator

Last year on my visit to Islay, Ardbeg was the first distillery we made it to. It’s a lovely place with what is, in my opinion, the nicest cafe on the island attached. At the time I’d already had full bottles of Ardbeg 10 and Ardbeg Ugedail, so I wanted to pick up a bottle of something I hadn’t tried. I stumped for Alligator.

Ardbeg Alligator is so called because of the heavy level of charring given to the oak barrels it is matured in. Apparently the char is so deep that the wood looks like an Alligator’s back. Here are the dramstats:

ardbegalligator

 

  • Non Chill Filtered
  • No Age Statement
  • 51.2% ABV
  • £80

Nose: Smokey BBQ sauce and lots of BBQ smoke. Ground ginger, griddled steak, cola and dandelion and burdock. To be poetic for a moment, it’s like being at a BBQ on Islay with a tasty smokey marinade on good meat.

Palate: Smokey BBQ then a wave of pepper. Very spicy and rich.

Finish: Pepper, ginger, sweet BBQ and lots of smoke. Cola too. The medicinal side of the peat makes a short appearance. Maybe someone cut themselves at the BBQ?

Verdict:  I just can’t decide which Ardbeg I like the most! I have a policy to always have an open bottle. I bought this for around £60, but the price has really gone up. I wouldn’t pay the current £80 it is selling for (and a number of places are selling it for £100). It’s great, but I still think the best value in the core range is the 10 year old.

 

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Ardbeg Uigeadail

Let’s start with Ardbeg. This is a great distillery that makes some exceptional single malt whisky. My introduction to the range was with the standard 10 year old. Though I don’t have any to review, (the 70cl bottle is long gone and didn’t last long), it is an exceptional 10 year old. Probably the best 10 year old own bottling expression I’ve tasted.

When it was gone I decided I had to get more Ardbeg, but why not try something new? Hence I picked up the Uigeadail. I’ve since been to the distillery and picked up a bottle of Alligator and 2 bottles of an 18 year old cask strength. I like Ardbeg! More on these in a future post.

The name Uigeadail refers to the loch from which Ardbeg gets its water. This expression is a mixture of Ardbeg from ex sherry and ex bourbon casks. Here are the dramstats:

Image

 

  • ABV: 54.2%
  • Non chill filtered
  • Price £46.50
  • No age statement

 

Nose: Pitta bread on a BBQ, burnt biscuits, overdone BBQ chicken legs, faint dusty fruit. With water it really opens up: Toasted coriander, cumin and cardamom, sticky BBQ sauce, cola bottles, black cherry, damson jam.

Palate:  Sweet heavy wood smoke, chilli, black pepper. Sticky BBQ ribs with charred edges. Fruit there but more like a fruity chilli sauce than fresh fruit.

Finish:  Huge pepper, chilli, smoke. Long finish with fruit notes, HP brown sauce and sweet chilli still lingering after 30 seconds to a minute.

Verdict: An excellent whisky with an amazing presentation. A standard expression bottled at over 50%and non chill filtered! Happy days! Oodles of that unique Ardbeg style smoke, very well rounded and full on the palate. A real Islay bomb. For the price this represents excellent value and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone. My only qualm would be whether to recommend this particular Ardbeg, the 10yo, or the Alligator. They are all excellent! Enjoy!