ARDBEG’S NEW BOTTLING – ARRRRRRRDBEG! – CELEBRATES MICKEY HEADS’ 13 YEARS AT THE DISTILLERY’S HELM
-Limited Edition wishes a bon voyage to the former captain of the Ardbeg ship-
To commemorate the retirement of Distillery Manager Mickey Heads, Ardbeg has announced the launch of 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.
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 fans can watch from the comfort of their own homes. And to help them get into the swashbuckling spirit, Ardbeg have also put together a downloadable kit full of pirate props, available from ardbeg.com.
While he is stepping down as Distillery Manager, Mickey will not be disappearing from the world of Ardbeg altogether. To the delight of fans, he will be continuing in his role as Chairman of the Ardbeg Committee.
Arrrrrrrdbeg will be available through Ardbeg.com and Ardbeg embassies from February 2021, RRP: £145.
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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.
Cask type: Wholly matured in ex-rye casks. A first for Ardbeg.
Non age statement.
Ardbeg prides itself on being The Ultimate Islay Malt Whisky. Established in 1815, Ardbeg is revered by connoisseurs around the world as the peatiest, smokiest and most complex of all the Islay malts. Despite its smokiness, Ardbeg is renowned for its delicious sweetness, a phenomenon that has affectionately become known as ‘the peaty paradox’. During the 1980s and 1990s, Ardbeg suffered from an uncertain future and it was not until the brand was purchased by The Glenmorangie Company in 1997 that the Distillery was saved from extinction. Since then, the Distillery has risen like a phoenix and today Ardbeg is well established as a niche, cult malt, with a passionate following.
The legacy of the whisky was safeguarded in 2000 by the formation of the Ardbeg Committee. The Committee is made up of thousands of Ardbeg followers worldwide who are keen to ensure that “the doors of Ardbeg never close again”. Today there are more than 100,000 members of the Ardbeg Committee in over 130 countries. Committee Members are regularly consulted on new bottlings and expressions and are offered exclusive Committee bottlings. Members also receive invitations to special gatherings, tastings and events. The Committee, chaired by Mickey Heads, is free to join at ardbeg.com.
Ardbeg is the world’s most highly awarded smoky single malt whisky. Since 2008, Ardbeg has won more than 50 gold and double gold medals in key whisky competitions. Ardbeg was twice been awarded ‘World’s Best Single Malt’ at the World Whiskies Awards (2010, 2013). At the 2014 Global Icons of Whisky Awards, Mickey Heads was voted ‘Distillery Manager of the Year’. The following year, Ardbeg’s expressions took the top three spots in Whisky Advocate magazine’s review of the best single malt Scotch whiskies under US$100. Meanwhile, both Ardbeg Corryvreckan and Ardbeg Uigeadail have been awarded gold medals at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. In 2019, Dr Bill Lumsden was awarded Master Distiller of the Year for the third time in four years. Ardbeg 10 Years Old also won the Best Single Malt Scotch 10 Year Old at the International Whisky Competition 2019, while the Ardbeg Distillery won the Distillery of the Year 2019. In 2020, the International Whisky Competition awarded Ardbeg Corryvreckan first place for Best Single Malt Scotch, Best Single Malt Scotch (No Age Statement), Best cask Strength (Over 57% ABV), Best Peated Scotch and Best Islay Single Malt. Ardbeg Wee Beastie also earned first place for Best Single Malt Scotch Under 10 Year Old and The Ardbeg Distillery achieved another Distillery of the Year award.
The Glenmorangie Company:
The Company is one of the most renowned and innovative distillers and marketers of Scotch whisky brands worldwide and is part of Moët Hennessy, the wine and spirits division of Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, the Company produces Glenmorangie Single Highland Malt whisky and Ardbeg Single Islay Malt.
Ardbeg and The Glenmorangie Company advocate responsible drinking and suggest that drinkers savour Ardbeg whiskies in moderation and in line with recommended daily guidelines for alcohol consumption.