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Head-to-Head Comparison: Ardbeg Alligator vs Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix

With names like Alligator and Snow Phoenix you know straight off the bat that these are no ordinary whiskies. Both have been out for a while now, and both are rather hard to come by. I’m a sucker for a good story, and here we have two.

The first, the Ardbeg Alligator derives it’s name from the appearance of the inside of the heavily charred barrels that the whisky matures in, which strongly resemble an alligator’s skin. The Ardbeg marketing team have taken this concept and run with it, spinning a good yarn of the Islay-gator.

The second, the Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix, is a marketer’s dream. Take a few warehouse roofs that collapsed due to the sheer weight of snow on them, whisky barrels lying exposed to the winter sky and below-zero temperatures, and a (hopefully) once-off incident and you get the opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind bottling of a marriage of young and old matured Glenfiddich whiskies.

Ardbeg Alligator

Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix

Ardbeg Alligator vs Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix
Product Description (sourced from their respective websites)
Warning signs of cumin and barbecue sauce. Creamy vanilla aromas mingle with vibrant notes of apple and pear – the whole complimented by the scent of fresh blossom.
Hot and spicy flavours grip you, ginger and chocolate thrash. This is Glenfiddich in the wild – apples roasted in the embers of a campfire, sweetened with heather honey and accompanied by a piece of chocolate, rich and complex with a whiff of burned sugar, coffee and woodsmoke.
Slow and long mocha espresso while cigar smoke ebbs. An exceptionally long finish – austere sherry notes mellow into a satisfying sweetness.

I’ve have fairly limited exposure to the Glenfiddich and Ardbeg ranges (which I plan on remedying as budget allows), but did enjoy both these whiskies. The Glenfiddich delivers a lovely long, fruity-sweet finish and there are several layers of complexity to this whisky thanks to the blend of different ages. For more tasting notes on the Phoenix, read WhiskyBrother’s post on it here. The Ardbeg, while less peaty than their 10 year old expression, still delivers a rich taste, and yes – you can pick up on the barbecue sauce flavours mentioned in the official tasting notes! For a more detailed review of the Alligator head on over to Whisky Israel.

Would I buy these whiskies? The Glenfiddich – yes. But as a collectible, not to drink. A once-off bottling with a great story behind it and beautiful packaging to boot. The Ardbeg – no. I’d rather go for one of their other expressions like the Rollercoaster or Supernova (don’t you just love the names Ardbeg give their whiskies?)

Alligator and Snow Phoenix Drams

Sincere thanks to Master of Malt for the samples. (No matter where the whiskies tasted are sourced from you can rest assured that my reviews remain independent.)

If you can’t source these whiskies locally, Master of Malt have the Ardbeg Alligator and Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix in their online shop.


  1. October 26, 2011    

    Hey there,
    nice idea. although it’s a bit like letting a nun and a gangster fight h2h 😉 so different.
    the SP is very good, and the alligator is also good each in its domain.

  2. Mark Mark
    October 26, 2011    

    Thanks for stopping by Gal. Yeah, not quite in the same weight division but they arrived at the same time so I thought I’d put them in the ring together and see what happened 😉

    • October 26, 2011    

      thanks so much for the mention there Mark!

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