Last night (Tuesday December 3), I attended a tasting of Balblair vintages. We tasted five whiskies, 2003, 1997, 1990, 1983 and 1969, prefaced by a glass of Balblair’s base spirit.
The bottling takes its name from the “alligator charring” method, which sees the wood staves of oak barrels intensively charred to produce a scale-like pattern.
According to the distillery, Ardbeg Alligator is the result of years of experimentation by Bill Lumsden and his team at The Glenmorangie Company, owner of the Islay distillery.
Lumsden said: “Since we bought and restored the Ardbeg Distillery we have undertaken lots of experiments, laying down spirit in different types of casks.
“The heart of Alligator is spirit matured in ‘level 4’ casks – the most intense type of charring you can achieve.”
The expression has been bottled at 51.2% ABV, is non chill-filtered and costs £55.
According to Ardbeg, the whisky was made by marrying the “intense smoky bacon and charcoal taste” of whisky from the heavily charred casks with the house style whisky, which is first-fill ex-bourbon matured and has “smoky, peaty” flavours.
Ahead of the market-wide launch, Ardbeg Alligator will be available to Ardbeg fans through a series of committee member tasting and events at specialist whisky shops.
Hamish Torrie, Ardbeg brand director said: The committee bottling is just a few thousand bottles to get the discussion going and we hope that as many members as possible will attend tastings ahead of the general release.”