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Ardbeg announces special release in honour of departing distillery manager

Scotch whisky maker Ardbeg has announced a limited-edition whisky release to mark the retirement of its distillery manager.

Arrrrrrrdbeg! commemorates the tenture of Mickey Heads, who retired in late 2020 after 13 years with the Islay distiller.

During his time at Ardbeg, Mickey oversaw the distillation of dozens of expressions, took part in brand events around the world, and was named Distillery Manager of the Year in Whisky Magazine's Icons of Whisky Awards 2014.

Exclusively available to Ardbeg Committee members from 1 February 2021, Arrrrrrrdbeg! is the distillery's first whisky wholly matured in ex-rye casks. The bottle label features an illustration by Brazilian artist Butcher Billy, depicting Mickey as a salty seadog.

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 perfect peaty parting gift."

Mickey Heads 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. 

"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 tasting video and Q&A, which fans can watch online while they enjoy a dram in the comfort of their own homes. The distiller has also put together a downloadable kit of pirate props, available from its website.

Arrrrrrrdbeg! will be available through and Ardbeg embassies from 1 February (RRP £145).

26 January 2021 - Bethany Whymark