In an industry largely perceived as male dominated, Dr Emma Walker owns the distinction of breaking through barriers to become Johnnie Walker’s first female Master Blender. It is certainly a momentous occasion for the world of Scotch Whiskies as Emma will be one of a small, select group of people, and the first female, to take on the coveted role of Master Blender in more than two centuries of the business’s existence.
Emma will succeed Dr Jim Beveridge OBE, who retires at the end of the year after more than 40 years at Diageo. Jim has spent the last two decades as Master Blender at Johnnie Walker. She will officially take over the reins from 1 January 2022 with Jim remaining with the business until the end of the year.
A New Era For The World’s Best-Selling Scotch Whisky
The role of Johnnie Walker Master Blender is one of the most coveted in the industry, and Emma certainly has the credentials. Joining Diageo 13 years ago, she 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.
In her new role, Emma will lead the 12-strong team of expert whisky makers in the pursuit of exceptional flavour, crafting and blending whisky from the four corners of Scotland. She will lend her expertise in creating the numerous Johnnie Walker variants which are sold in more than 180 countries around the world.
During her career, Emma has worked in different areas of whisky production; gaining experience and understanding of how flavour develops in fermentation, distillation, and maturation, striving to ensure quality at every stage of the process. She has spent several years working with Jim to develop an encyclopaedic understanding and knowledge of whisky.
“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,” expressed the new Johnnie Walker Master Blender. “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.”
Changing Of The Guard
The arrival of Emma as the brand’s first female Master Blender will see a prominent figure of Johnnie Walker step down from the illustrious role. For Jim Beveridge, it should serve as a sweet end to an amazing career. As the current Master Blender, Jim has been a pivotal figure at Johnnie Walker.
He retires after a four-decade career in whisky during which time he has been responsible for some of the world’s most popular and acclaimed Scotch whisky blends including Johnnie Walker Blue Label. “I have learnt so much over my career working with Jim – whose knowledge and generosity of spirit is unsurpassed in the world of whisky,” adds Emma.
Jim’s career began at Johnnie Walker as an analytical chemist 42 years ago. Over the course of his career, he has established himself as one of the most highly respected figures in the industry, renowned for his skill and dedication to quality. In 2019, he was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen for his services to the Scotch Whisky industry.
“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,” says Jim.
“On a personal level I am delighted for her, and I know that her wonderfully infectious personality, that made working with her so enjoyable, will bring something exciting and different to the team and, indeed, to the wider Scotch industry.”
(Main and featured image: Diageo)