Diageo’s new master blender for its Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky brand will be the first female to take on the role in over two centuries.
Dr Emma Walker will take over the reins from Dr Jim Beveridge OBE, who retires at the end of the year after more than 40 years at Diageo, 20 of which as master blender.
Walker, who is aptly named but 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. Walker’s innovations already include the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare series and Jane Walker by Johnnie Walker.
In the new position of master blender, Walker will lead a 12-strong team of expert whisky makers to create all Johnnie Walker variants which are sold in more than 180 countries around the world.
Speaking about her new role, 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.”
She added: “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, who has spent a four-decade career in whisky, 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.
Beveridge OBE 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. 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.”
Julie Bramham, global brand director for Johnnie Walker, added: “It is through Jim’s tireless work, incredible expertise and dedication to quality that the iconic flavours of the Johnnie Walker portfolio are so popular today and we thank him for his outstanding contribution over the last four decades. Emma takes over at an exciting time, Scotch is being enjoyed in so many different ways by people from all over the world and I know that Emma and her team will continue to develop the exceptional tastes, textures and flavours that we are renowned for.”
Walker will officially hold the title of master blender from 1 January 2022.