Michael “Mickey” Heads
With nearly 30 years of working in the whisky industry it is fair to say that Mickey truly has Scotch whisky running through his veins! Like his father and grandfathers before him (his grandfather was head maltman at Port Ellen and his father was a stillman), he has a true passion for whisky distilling and takes pleasure every day in continuing this legacy from his home at Ardbeg Distillery on the wild and untamed Isle of Islay.
Mickey joined the Laphroaig Distillery on Islay in 1979 as a Distillery Operator, where he started cutting peat, working his way up to the position of Brewer, which he held from 1990 to 1999. During this time he also assisted at Ardbeg Distillery, which was at the time owned and operated by Allied Distillers, a foretaste for things to come!
In 1999 he “emigrated” to the neighbouring island Jura where he was the Distillery Manager at the Isle of Jura Distillery until 2007. During this time he travelled in the US and Europe promoting the distillery.
Mickey was thrilled to be appointed Ardbeg Distillery Manager in 2007 where his main job is to look after the day-to-day production of Ardbeg, to ensure that it remains ‘The Ultimate Islay Malt Whisky.’ The 20th manager to take the reins at Ardbeg, and genuine Ileach, Mickey was a well-deserved winner of Icons of Whisky ‘Global Distillery Manager of the Year’ award in 2014.
He is also the Chairman of the Ardbeg Committee, a group of over 100,000 enthusiasts from 120 countries across the world who are united in their appreciation of Ardbeg. Mickey takes this responsibility very seriously and strives to ensure that the expectations of these aficionados are met, welcoming many for tours and tastings at the distillery every week.
He continues to travel on occasion across Europe, to spread the word about this unique, complex and mysterious malt whisky to the ever-growing number of loyal fans.