Chili and 'gator -- a hearty treat

Photos by Bill Dowd
I love it when a plan comes together. Especially if it creates itself.

I'd planned a leisurely few hours of making chili to start my long holiday weekend today -- peeling Vidalia onions, yellow bell peppers and crisp jalapeƱos, cutting up the beef, sauteeing it all in olive oil before adding garlic, beef broth and sweet vermouth, simmering for a looong slow time, then adding the dark red kidney beans and re-seasoning the concoction with a bit more thyme, basil, chili powder, salt, smoked paprika and Tabasco green sauce, then letting it all slowly marry over a very low flame until the fragrance overwhelmed us and we had to dig into a bowl.

That part went as planned. What I hadn't anticipated was the extra treat of a bottle of the latest Scotch whisky from Ardbeg, a little something called "Ardbeg Alligator," being delivered by the FedEx guy.

Since there are no alligators in Scotland, I was intrigued by this advance release. The Islay non chill-filtered single malt is aged in new, severely charred -- thus the "alligator-ing" effect -- new American white oak barrel. The resulting product is blended with "regular" Ardbeg 10 Year Old, then aged another year in refill casks before being bottled at 51.2% alcohol by volume (102.4 proof).

Don't go scrambling to your local spirits shop just yet, though. Ardberg Alligator won't be on the market until September.

Oh, why the chili? Bill Lumsden, master distiller and director of whisky creation for Arbeg, Glenmorangie and others, is so rhapsodical about the many notes and nuances of his new product -- particularly with such words as "spicy" and "barbecue sizzle" -- that I just had to pair it with a potent dish to test its strength.

How did it fare? Go to Dowd's Tasting Notes to see.

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