Arrrrrrrdbeg! Celebrates Mickey Heads’ 13 Years At The Distillery's Helm

To commemorate the retirement of Distillery Manager Mickey Heads, Ardbeg has announced the launch of a new Islay whisky called Arrrrrrrdbeg! – an exciting Limited Edition bottling which celebrates his time at the helm. 

Captain of the Ardbeg ship since 2007, Mickey retired in late 2020, after 13 whisky-packed and eventful years. During his time at the Distillery, he oversaw the distillation of dozens of fine Ardbeg expressions, took part in Ardbeg celebrations from Islay to Illinois, took home the title of IWC ‘Distillery of the Year’ three times in a row, and was named Distillery Manager of the Year 2014.

Exclusively available to the Ardbeg Committee from 1st February 2021, Arrrrrrrdbeg! is the Distillery’s first whisky wholly matured in ex-rye casks. It has a spicy mouthfeel igniting a blunderbuss of fruity flavours, while the long finish lingers with gentle smoke listing on the palate. The bottle’s striking illustrated label depicts Mickey as a salty seadog and is the creation of Butcher Billy, a renowned Brazilian artist and graphic designer.

Arrrrrrrdbeg! official tasting notes

Colour: Straw 

Nose: On the nose, aromas of smoked banana and pear drift into hints of rye bread, sweet vanilla toffee and the gentlest breeze of aniseed. With a splash of water, citrusy lemon and lime course through the senses, while refreshing notes of sherbet and sweet pastry come to the fore. 

Taste: A spicy mouthfeel hoists up and ignites a blunderbuss of fruity flavours, such as melon and kiwi. An armada of aniseed appears, tailed by notes of smoked toffee and a distant hint of sourdough biscuits. 

Finish: Finally, the long finish lingers, leaving seaspray, brazil nuts and faint smoke listing on the palate.

About this new Ardbeg whisky

Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Whisky Creation at Ardbeg, said: “Working with Mickey has been an absolute joy. He’s somebody with a genuine passion for Ardbeg and we hope that this bottling will take pride of place in his collection. He’s presided over many momentous Ardbegs over the years, but this ‘end of an era’ edition is a special one. The spirit inside is pretty special too: Arrrrrrrdbeg! is the Distillery’s first ever ex-rye cask whisky. With notes of smoked banana and pear, sweet toffee and that distinctive Ardbeg smoke, it’s the perfectly peaty parting gift.”

Mickey Heads, Distillery Manager, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to spend the last 13 years heading the crew at the greatest Distillery on earth. I had the best team of people anyone could wish for and I’m proud that we’ve been responsible for producing so many wonderful Ardbegs along the way. As for this bottling, well I’m honoured that a place that has already given me so much would celebrate my retirement in such a thoughtful way. And to have my image on a bottle, that’s a dream come true!

“Who knows what retirement holds for me, but I know I’ll be spending a lot of time out fishing. And, as ongoing Chairman of the Ardbeg Committee, I’m sure I’ll be dropping by the Distillery often.”

As part of the Arrrrrrrdbeg! launch, Mickey has recorded a farewell tasting film and Q&A, which you can watch from the comfort of your own home. 

While he is stepping down as Distillery Manager, Mickey will not be disappearing from the world of Ardbeg altogether. He will be continuing in his role as Chairman of the Ardbeg Committee.

If you’d like to get a bottle of Arrrrrrrdbeg then it will be available through Ardbeg.com and Ardbeg embassies from February 2021, for a recommended retail price of £145.

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