Whisky Focus - Master Blender Rachel Barrie Inducted As A Keeper Of The Quaich

Rachel Barrie Inducted As A Keeper Of The Quaich

8th October 2019
Master Blender Rachel Barrie has been recognised for her contribution to the Scotch whisky industry and has been inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich at a ceremony at Blair Castle this week.

Rachel Barrie Inducted As A Keeper Of The Quaich

One of the world’s top whisky Master Blenders, also known as the ‘First Lady of Scotch’, has been recognised with one of the Scotch whisky industry’s most prestigious accolades by being inducted as a ‘Keeper of the Quaich’ at a private ceremony held at Blair Castle last night (Monday 7 October). The Keepers of the Quaich is a  very exclusive and international society that recognises those that have shown outstanding commitment to the Scotch Whisky industry.

I was surprised that Rachel hadn't been inducted as a ‘Keeper of the Quaich’ until now with a whisky career spanning over 27 years to date. Today Dr. Rachel Barrie is the Master Blender for Brown-Forman’s Scotch Whisky portfolio of The GlenDronach, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh where she is responsible for developing, testing and expertly fine-tuning each distillery’s unique signature character and range of expressions.

Originally from Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, an area rich in Scotch history, Rachel was long destined for a career in Single Malt whisky creation. After studying chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, she began as a research scientist at the Scotch Whisky Research Institute. She then moved into production at The Glenmorangie Company, becoming Master Blender in 2003. During this time Rachel also managed the stocks for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, before moving to Morrison Bowmore Distillers with Bowmore, Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch, working latterly with Laphroaig and Ardmore.

Rachel was appointed as Master Blender for Brown Forman’s Single Malt portfolio in 2017, but throughout her career Rachel has tasted in excess of 150,000 casks of Single Malt Scotch Whisky, which continues to boom in exports with overseas category sales growing 7.8% by value to £4.7bn last year.

Rachel Barrie enjoying the celebrations with Outlander star, Sam Heughan.

The ceremony at Blair Castle was also a bit of a star studded evening as Rachel got to enjoy the celebrations with Sam Heughan, the Scottish actor (and Scotch whisky lover), who plays Jamie Fraser in the show Outlander and who himself is set to launch his own whisky brand, which I believe will be a blended whisky but details or a launch date has not been set yet but perhaps he was able to get some last minute tips from Rachel.

Commenting on the appointment to the international society, Dr. Rachel Barrie said:

"Being inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich is a very proud moment in my career. The society brings together those leading the way in Scotch whisky from all corners of the world, and to be part of this highly revered body is an honour, as we continue to push boundaries in perfecting our magnificent spirit.

"My ambition has always been to unlock the secrets of Scotch whisky making and provenance, to develop and nurture richness of character and celebrate it with the world; it’s an honour to be recognised for this and to be in such esteemed company."

Annabel Meikle, Director at Keepers of the Quaich added:

"The ceremony and banquet at Blair Castle for new Keepers of the Quaich is a true celebration of Scotch whisky, and we are proud to welcome new Keepers into the Society in recognition of their incredible service to the industry and wealth of knowledge. I often think of the Society as the most inclusive yet exclusive whisky club in the world, and it’s always a great moment to see new inducted Keepers becoming recognised for their prestigious work in the Scotch whisky industry."

This latest accolade follows on from last year when Rachel was the first female Scotch whisky Master Blender to receive an Honorary Doctorate and be inducted into Whisky Magazine’s illustrious ‘Hall of Fame’.

If you fancy trying some of Rachel's recent work from her time at The GlenDronach, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh you will find their current core ranges available from specialist online whisky retailers such such as Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange

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