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Ardbeg launch limited edition bottling to commemorate distillery manager's retirement

Ardbeg is set to release a limited edition bottling -  the distillery’s first whisky wholly matured in ex-rye casks.

Published: January 22, 2021
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To commemorate the retirement of distillery manager Mickey Heads, Ardbeg has announced the launch of Arrrrrrrdbeg! – a limited edition bottling which celebrates his time at the helm.

Mickey has been distillery manager since 2007, and 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.

The limited edition is exclusively available to the Ardbeg Committee from (1 February 2021), Arrrrrrrdbeg! is the Distillery’s first whisky wholly matured in ex-rye casks.

The team say that it 'has a spicy mouthfeel igniting a blunderbuss of fruity flavours, while the long finish lingers with gentle smoke listing on the palate.'

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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.

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Speaking of the bottling and Mickey's retirement, 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, added: "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.

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"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! limited edition launch, Mickey has recorded a farewell tasting film and Q&A, which Ardbeg fans can watch from the comfort of their own homes.

To help whisky lovers get into the swashbuckling spirit, Ardbeg have also put together a downloadable kit full of pirate props, available from their website.

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

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Arrrrrrrdbeg! has an RRP of £145 and is available from the Ardbeg website.

 Arrrrrrrdbeg!  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.

· ABV: 51.8%

· Cask type: Wholly matured in ex-rye casks. A first for Ardbeg.

· Non age statement.

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Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related.

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