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Ardbeg releases Alligator

On 1 September 2011, Ardbeg will release its annual limited edition to market – Ardbeg Alligator. However, fans of the brand – the Ardbeg Committee – will be able to purchase and taste the new whisky in advance at specialist outlets.

Ardbeg Alligator is the latest experimentation by the Isle distillery, headed up by Dr Bill Lumsden of the Glenmorangie Company, head of distilling and whisky creation at the Edinburgh based firm Glenmorangie, which bought and restored Ardbeg in 1997.

Alligator Charring is a term used in the Bourbon and Scotch whisky industries to describe the method of charring (or burning) the inside of the oak casks before they are filled with spirit. The burnt wood staves take on the appearance of an alligator’s scales, hence the name. 
The use of these casks is relatively rare as most casks are much less heavily charred.
Dr Bill commented: “Since we bought and restored the Ardbeg Distillery we have undertaken lots of experiments, laying down spirit in different types of casks. This began back in the late 1990s and Alligator is the happy outcome of one experiment that we are really pleased with.
“The heart of Alligator is spirit matured in Level 4 casks - the most intense type of charring you can achieve. 
"The key for us then was to marry the intense smoky bacon and charcoal taste of the whisky from these heavily charred casks with the equally intense smoky peaty flavours of hallmark Ardbeg and get the right taste. We achieved this by balancing out the intensity of the charring by marrying this with some Ardbeg matured in 1st fill ex-bourbon casks. These add a creamy vanilla sweetness to the taste.
“The result is a spectacular spectrum of smoky, charcoal, barbecue flavours which beautifully enhance the complex peaty and distinctively herbal characteristics of the hallmark Ardbeg house-style. Let’s see what the Ardbeg Committee think…as they chew it over!”         
On the launch Hamish Torrie, Ardbeg Brand Director explained: “Ardbeg Alligator is released ‘for discussion’ to the Committee in June with the market release being rolled out to Ardbeg customers in the UK, US, European and selected Asia markets in September.
“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 if they miss out on a bottle now”.
“Alligator can be bought online at, but to comply with local country tax laws we must point out there are some restrictions to online availability for EU countries. We will endeavour to get as many members to taste it via our Ardbeg Embassy network during the course of the summer.”
As part of the launch, members can enjoy a fun film “The Islay-gator’s Tale” available at or for download on the Ardbeg app.
The Committee Bottling of Alligator carries an RSP of £55.00 or its equivalent in Euros or USD. A snap at that price?
For more information on Ardbeg visit


1 June 2011 - Felicity Murray