Dr Emma Walker will take over as the new Johnnie Walker master blender following the retirement of Dr Jim Beveridge OBE after 40 years of service in the industry.
Beveridge will be retiring at the end of the year after more than 40 years at Diageo, two decades of which he spent as master blender.
Walker will officially take up the role of master blender from 1 January 2022.
Beveridge 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.”
The Johnnie Walker owner labelled Beveridge as ‘one of the most highly respected figures in the industry’. In 2019, he was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to the Scotch whisky industry.
“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,” he added.
Walker will be the first female to take on the role of master blender for Johnnie Walker, and will lead a group of 12 in her new position.
Walker joined Diageo 13 years ago, and has since gained experience in Scotch production and blending.
She has worked with Johnnie Walker for the past six years, working on innovations including the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare series, which unveiled its fourth release last week, and the Jane Walker bottling.
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.”
Walker has spent several years working with Beveridge to develop her knowledge and understanding of whisky.
“I have learnt so much over my career working with Jim – whose knowledge and generosity of spirit is unsurpassed in the world of whisky,” she commented.
Julie Bramham, global brand director for Johnnie Walker, said: “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.”
Earlier this month, Johnnie Walker introduced the latest global marketing push in its ‘Keep Walking’ campaign, focused on encouraging optimism as the world reopens.
Meanwhile, in September, Diageo officially opened its eight-floor Johnnie Walker Princes Street visitor experience.