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Diageos Dr Emma Walker breaks the bias as Master Blender

Diageo's Dr Emma Walker breaks the bias as Master Blender

 March 30, 2022

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Dr Emma Walker is Master Blender with Diageo's iconic brand, Johnnie Walker. She is the first woman to hold the role at the brand that dates back more than 200 years. In an interview with Scotland on Sunday, she discusses whisky innovations, making the industry's future more sustainable, and why she's taking action to #BreakTheBias.

An innovative role in whisky production

Dr Emma Walker took over from Master Blender Dr Jim Beveridge, who was retiring after more than 40 years with Diageo, parent company of what is billed as the world’s top Scotch whisky brand. She explains that she joined Diageo's whisky specialist team as a project scientist in 2008, and after four years moved into whisky production in the blending and distilling operations at Leven, Cameronbridge, and Knockando distilleries.

She then returned to the Whisky Specialist Team in 2014 as a Blender, and has worked as the Whisky Team Manager, and Whisky Team Technical Specialist before moving into her current role – which she says enables her to marry her passion for flavour with her background in science.

"In terms of significance, I really feel the weight of responsibility that such an incredible role brings, but it’s very exciting. Every whisky-maker in our team knows the role we play in a brand that has a 200-year history of craftsmanship, blending, and flavour. That is where the significance lies," says Emma.

"I often get asked about being a female in a male industry, but I don’t see any issues; we’re simply a group of people working in whisky. Our team at Johnnie Walker has always had a balance of men and women, and there are female master blenders at Diageo brands Bell’s and Buchanan’s too," she adds.

Diageo Johnnie Walker Master Blender #BreakTheBias

Seeking gender balance in the industry

Dr Emma Walker spoke at the International Women’s Day 2022: Taking Action To Break The Bias event. She explains how she used this platform, how the whisky sector (both on the industry and consumer side) are faring regarding gender balance, and ways the industry can broadly become more diverse.

"Breaking bias is so important to me and to Diageo and being part of the event on International Women’s Day was great. It gave me the opportunity to share my experience working as a woman as part of Johnnie Walker," comments Emma.

"Our team at Johnnie Walker has been selected on merit, organically reaching an even gender split. There have been many talented female whisky-blenders within the team over the years, including master blenders for Buchanan’s, J&B Rare and Signature, working alongside male blenders."

"More generally, though, I believe the world should be a more open, diverse place so everyone can feel comfortable being themselves," she adds.

Read the full article and learn more about Dr Emma Walker's innovative role as Master Blender with Diageo.

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