One of the major successes behind any popular blended Scotch whisky is those which handle the blending process. For the Johnnie Walker brand, the person at the head of this long has been Dr Jim Beveridge OBE. He is now set to retire at the end of this year, turning the reins over to Dr Emma Walker.
Beveridge has been working with Diageo, the owners of the Walker brand, for over 40 years, with 20 of those being in the master blender role. This role, according to the company, is one of the most coveted in the industry. Walker, with no relation to the Walker family, 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.”
During her career she has worked in different areas of whisky production; gaining experience and understanding of how flavour develops in fermentation, distillation, and maturation. She also spent several years working with Beveridge to develop what’s described as an encyclopaedic understanding and knowledge of whisky.
“It is with pleasure and confidence that I pass on this privilege to Emma,” said Beveridge in a prepared statement. “I know she will do a wonderful job as she possesses the knowledge, expertise, and dedication to make an amazing Master Blender. 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.”
“I am honoured to take on the title of Master Blender of Johnnie Walker,” added 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.”
Walker will lead, starting in January 2022, a 12-strong team of expert whisky makers in the crafting and blending whisky from the four corners of Scotland to create the numerous Johnnie Walker variants which are sold in more than 180 countries around the world.
Of important note as well is that she is said to be “the first female, 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.”
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...