Johnnie Walker makes history as aptly named 'master blender' is unveiled

Johnnie Walker, the Diageo-owned whisky brand that recently opened a vast visitor centre on Edinburgh’s Princes Street, has appointed the first female master blender in its 200-year-plus history.

The aptly named Emma Walker will take over the reins from Jim Beveridge, who retires at the end of the year after more than 40 years at Diageo, 20 of which as master blender.

Walker becomes one of a select group of people to take on the coveted role of master blender in more than two centuries of the business’s existence, the first being founder John Walker.

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Although no relation to the whisky brand’s founding family, Walker joined spirits giant Diageo 13 years ago and has gained extensive knowledge and experience of Scotch production and innovation to become a highly respected blender who has worked extensively on Johnnie Walker for the last six years. Her innovations include the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare series and Jane Walker by Johnnie Walker.

Dr Emma Walker is appointed the new master blender for Johnnie Walker, succeeding Dr Jim Beveridge OBE who retires after more than 40 years at Diageo. Picture: Mike Wilkinson

In her new role, she will lead a 12-strong team of expert whisky makers in the “pursuit of exceptional flavour, crafting and blending whisky from the four corners of Scotland”.

Walker said: “I am honoured to take on the title of master blender of Johnnie Walker, and at an exciting time for the brand as we embark on the next step of our journey looking ahead to the next 200 years.

“I love experimenting and innovating with flavour and we’ll be working hard to not only continue to deliver the unrivalled quality that we are renowned for but also introducing blends to appeal to a new generation of Scotch whisky fans.

“I have learnt so much over my career working with Jim - whose knowledge and generosity of spirit is unsurpassed in the world of whisky.”

Beveridge said: “It is with pleasure and confidence that I pass on this privilege to Emma. I know she will do a wonderful job as she possesses the knowledge, expertise, and dedication to make an amazing master blender.”

In July, Diageo reported that global Scotch organic net sales grew 15 per cent year-on-year with Johnnie Walker organic net sales up 12 per cent.

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