DR JIM BEVERIDGE OBE has relinquished his position as master blender at Johnnie Walker. The departure of such a central figure at Diageo and Johnnie Walker is certainly sad news for whisky lovers. Beveridge is a true legend of the whisky industry who has spent more than four decades at Diageo and who has been responsible for some of the world’s most popular and acclaimed Scotch whisky blends from the brand, including Johnnie Walker Blue Label.
Beveridge’s journey in the world of whisky began 42 years ago. He started out as an analytical chemist in 1979 and went on to carve an indelible reputation in the business. Renowned for his tireless work ethic, expertise and dedication, Beveridge has consistently been at the forefront of blending and developing flavours that have shaped and defined the Johnnie Walker label.
A well-loved and respected figure in the business, Beveridge received the biggest honour for his services to the Scotch whisky industry when he was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen in 2019. Beveridge’s retirement now paves the way for a new master blender, Dr Emma Walker. Dr Walker officially takes over the reins on 1 January 2022,
Just before his term concluced, we paid one last call to Beveridge, for the chance to discuss Scotch whiskies, as well as to glean the fine points of whisky blending from a true master of the craft.
You have been at Johnnie Walker since 1979. How much has the Scotch whisky industry changed through the decades?
The one significant thing that has changed has been our understanding of the science and technology involved in whisky-making. There have been many advancements over the last 40 years to the process of making Scotch, and they have been wonderful to witness. And yet, the core principles of whisky that have guided whisky makers like myself and the team at Johnnie Walker remain resolutely the same. We want to make great whisky. That is what gets us up on our feet each morning. Crafting extraordinary new Scotch flavours, that is our passion, that is our inspiration.
Where do you see the segment moving towards in the next 10 years?
As an industry, we have always looked to innovate, and I think that’s something that will continue to be a guiding principle into the next 200 years. Whether that is innovating with amazing new flavours, developing our ways of making Scotch production to be more sustainable, or creating amazing new ways of experiencing Scotch as we have done with the opening of Johnnie Walker Princes Street we are always trying to find new ways of doing things, new things to explore, and we will continue to do that.
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