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First female master blender at Johnnie Walker

First female: Emma Walker

Johnnie Walker has announced that Emma Walker will take over as master blender from Jim Beveridge, who retires at the end of the year after more than 40 years at Diageo, 20 of which he has spent in his current post.

Dr Walker will be one of a small, select group of people, and the first female, to take on the coveted role in more than two centuries of the business’s existence, the first being founder John Walker himself.

Aptly named, although no relation to the Walker family, Dr Walker joined 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.

As master blender, she will lead the 12-strong team of whisky makers, crafting and blending whisky from around Scotland to create the numerous variants which are sold in more than 180 countries.

Dr 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.”

The announcement comes as Dr Beveridge 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.

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 the Queen for his services to the Scotch whisky industry.

He 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.”

Dr Walker will officially hold the title of master blender from 1 January and Dr Beveridge will remain with the business until the end of the year.

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