Whisky Focus - Emma Walker Named New Master Blender For Johnnie Walker

Emma Walker Named New Master Blender For Johnnie Walker

20th October 2021
Diageo announce that Emma Walker will take over as the new Master Blender for Johnnie Walker when Jim Beveridge OBE retires at the end of the year.

Future Johnnie Walker Master Blender Emma Walker with the current Johnnie Walker Master Blender Jim Beveridge OBE.

Johnnie Walker, the world’s best-selling Scotch Whisky, has announced that Dr Emma Walker will take over from Dr Jim Beveridge OBE as Johnnie Walker Master Blender. Jim is set to retire at the end of this year after more than 40 years at Diageo, the last 20 of which as Master Blender. Jim will remain with the business until the end of the year when he will hand over the reins to Emma who will officially hold the title of Master Blender from 1 January 2022.

Emma will be one of a small, select group of people, and 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.

Although very aptly named to take over the reins at Johnnie Walker I can tell you that Emma has no relation to the Walker family. Emma has been with Diageo 13 years and in that time has gained extensive knowledge and experience of Scotch production and the innovation it takes to become a highly respected blender, she has worked extensively on Johnnie Walker for the last six years. Johnnie Walker fans will already be familiar with some of Emma's creative Johnnie Walker innovations already, these include the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare series and Jane Walker by Johnnie Walker.

The role of Johnnie Walker Master Blender is one of the most coveted in the whisky industry, and Emma will lead the 12-strong team of expert whisky makers in the pursuit of exceptional flavour, 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.

During her career, Emma has worked in different areas of whisky production; gaining experience and understanding of how flavour develops in fermentation, distillation, and maturation, striving to ensure quality at every stage of the process. She has spent several years working with Jim to develop an encyclopaedic understanding and knowledge of whisky.

In July, Diageo reported that global Scotch organic net sales grew 15% year-on-year with Johnnie Walker organic net sales up 12%, as the category benefited from the growing trend of premiumisation amongst consumers.

New Johnnie Walker Master Blender, Dr Emma Walker, says: "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 adds: "I have learnt so much over my career working with Jim - whose knowledge and generosity of spirit is unsurpassed in the world of whisky."

The announcement comes as Jim 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.

His commitment to developing the ultimate whisky flavours began when he started his career with Johnnie Walker as an analytical chemist 42 years ago. He has gone on to establish 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.

Dr Jim Beveridge OBE says: "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, comments: “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."

You will find the Johnnie Walker whisky range available from specialist online whisky retailers such as The Whisky Exchange, Amazon and Master of Malt

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