If you’ve been around Livefire much, you may know that I’m a fan of Scotch whisky, especially those from Islay (pronounced something with a long I, then luh, not lay). I’m a fan of Lagavulin, own a square foot of the island thanks to being a Friend of Laphroaig, and am on the Ardbeg Committee.
Being on the Ardbeg Committee brought to me an invitation to a tasting of the aforementioned “new” whisky, Ardbeg Alligator. I immediately RSVP’ed for my wife and me to attend, even though it was on a school night! The event was in Cincy, at Nicholson’s Gastropub, right downtown.
We got there a bit early, so we walked around Fountain Square a bit. There were a few ice skaters, and the tree was lit. The square is very nice around Christmas, but it was a bit cold, so we didn’t stay too long.
Back to Nicholson’s, we got a booth after signing in. We were given tickets for 3 drinks each. The good thing for me here is that my wife doesn’t care for whisky at all, so they were really all for me! This included, for each of us, a dram of Ardbeg 10 year old, followed by our choice of a Smoquito (mojito), a Smoquarita (margarita) or a Bloody Mary (with Ardbeg instead of vodka). This was followed by a dram each of Ardbeg Alligator. There were also free appetizers… All this for the grand price of FREE!
The pub is a great place, with a nice menu. I’ve never been unhappy with a meal there, and I like the ale and whisky selection. Jacob, our waiter, was great!
Starting with the dram of the 10 year old, Ardbeg starts off great. It’s peaty, salty, seaweedy, sweet and delicious. It was served with a side of spring water in case it was wanted; I added a few drops to open up the whisky.
For the cocktails, I got a Bloody Mary, and my wife got the Smoquito, which was made with mint and brown sugar. The Bloody Mary was good, but their mix is a bit hotter than I really like; I prefer more of a horseradish heat than just hot sauce. It was good, though. The Smoquito was much better than I expected, though the brown sugar was a bit too much, but the Ardbeg went really nicely with it.
Then on to the Alligator. The difference in this is that it’s a single malt that blends the regular 10 year old with whisky from first use oak barrels that are highly charred (hence the Alligator name). It ends up being an odd mix of Scotch and Bourbon, kind of landing in between. It’s really nice, and definitely worth trying if you get a chance.
Did I really like it, though? Well, I got the last bottle left in Dayton, it seems, so, yes, I liked it. I wanted for a couple of reasons. First, friends that say they like bourbon but not Scotch can try this as a “gateway” Scotch. Second, I think it will make a great mint julep instead of using bourbon.
Alligator won’t replace Supernova or my Lagavulin, but it’s well worth having!