Johnnie Walker Appoints Its First Female Master Blender

Dr. Emma Walker is the first woman to hold that heralded position at the world's most popular Scotch brand

Emma Walker succeeds Jim Beveridge OBE becoming the first female Master Blender in the 200-year Johnnie Walker story. Here they are at a bar with Walker swirling Scotch in a glass.
Emma Walker succeeds Jim Beveridge OBE, becoming the first female Master Blender in the 200-year history of Johnnie Walker.

For the first time in over 200 years, Johnnie Walker will have a female Master Blender.

The venerable Scotch brand announced this week that Dr. Emma Walker will take over the reins from Dr. Jim Beveridge OBE, who is retiring at the end of the year after 20 years as Master Blender.

Walker — no relation to the brand’s Walker legacy — joined Diageo 13 years ago and is credited with helping to develop the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare series and Jane Walker by Johnnie Walker expressions.

As noted by The Drinks Business, Johnnie Walker is the best-selling Scotch in the world. Walker’s promotion will hopefully inspire spirits brands to promote women and other groups of people who have been ignored or marginalized within the industry. She joins a very small group of female Master Blenders and Distillers in the Scotch world, including Rachel Barrie at BenRiach and The GlenDronach.

“I am honored 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,” Walker said in a statement. “I love experimenting and innovating with flavor and we’ll be working hard to not only continue to deliver the unrivaled quality that we are renowned for but also introducing blends to appeal to a new generation of Scotch Whisky fans.”

Walker will begin as Master Blender on Jan. 1.


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