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Whisky Advocate: A New Era At Johnnie Walker

December 17, 2021

At the start of the new year, Emma Walker will assume the mantle of master blender for Johnnie Walker, in charge of the flavor of every expression under the Johnnie Walker name. She will succeed outgoing master blender Jim Beveridge, who has served in that role for over 20 years, having started as a chemist for Diageo’s forerunner company United Distillers more than four decades ago.

Walker’s new role carries different challenges and responsibilities to those Beveridge faced at the outset. “One of the big things is going to be scale,” she notes. “If you think of just how many people are buying whisky around the world, how much whisky we’re making, and the range of Johnnie Walker whiskies we’re producing, it’s really quite different from when [Jim] started.” According to Impact Databank, Johnnie Walker’s global volume stood at 14.5 million cases last year, with the brand ranking fourth among all premium spirits brands worldwide.

Walker cites the brand’s whisky team as Beveridge’s lasting legacy—a team of 12 blenders that he has trained. “He wasn’t working alone—it’s always been with a team of people around him. It’s no different now. We’ve got a lot of exciting things coming through, such as the new Johnnie Walker High Rye, and we’re looking at what experimental styles to lay down, what new things we can do with casks, and how we can play with flavors in different ways.” Whisky Advocate has the full story. —Jonny McCormick

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