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Ardbeg Alligator Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (700ml)
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- ABV 51.2%
Note: Gift box has a noticeable crease to the front panel.
Alligator is the latest of Ardbeg’s limited releases. It’s a vatting of various ages, with no material less than ten years old. The point of difference here is in the intense firing of the oak barrels that the whisky is finished in. The process leaves the barrel’s staves ‘charcoaled’, taking on the appearance of an alligator’s scales. We’ve heard of some Australian distillers carrying out a similar charring before filling used Port barrels, however it’s usually a cautionary step to remove or sterilize any taint left in the old wood. Unfortunately, it presents potential problems in itself . The intense heat can generate a sulphidic taint (the dreaded rubber band / struck match), the result of burning wine related compounds embedded in the wood. Ardbeg’s Bill Lumsden, has taken a different approach by expanding on the unique use of new American White Oak. The new oak, when heavily charred, does not release the ‘off’ taints of a used barrel. Instead the drinker is presented with a myriad of toasty, savoury, barbequed aromas and flavours. When expertly blended with Ardbeg’s signature first fill Bourbon white oak casks the result is distinctive and impressive.
Tasting note: Brilliant pale gold colour with a subtle green blush. Powerful opening aromas include wet charcoal followed by lanolin and wet wool, becoming sweeter but more subdued after aeration with spicy stewed fruits and suggestions of smoked meat emerging. Entry is soft and salty before the cask strength concentration kicks in; mid palate is medium dry with a perfectly poised bitter/sweet balance followed by an intense saltiness. Creamy mouthfeel showing remarkable restraint given the high ABV. Finishes pleasantly bitter (like high cocoa chocolate) with tar, elastoplast and hints of dried herbs. Spice and salt persists on the tip of the tongue. Wait for the late charcoal, vanilla and green tea farewell.