Rachel Barrie awarded honorary doctorate

Rachel becomes the first female Master Blender to be given an honorary doctorate by the University of Edinburgh

Since March 2017 Rachel Barrie has been Master Blender at Brown-Forman, creating some of the best single malts in the world for the distilleries BenRiach, Glenglassaugh and GlenDronach. This makes her one of the few women to have achieved this position in the whisky industry. Her task is essentially to nose and taste thousands of casks, firstly to decide which whiskies will be released onto the market and secondly to plan stocks for the coming year. Rachel Barrie was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science by the University of Edinburgh on Monday 9 July for her extensive expertise and outstanding service to the whisky industry.

Proud moment

She has received numerous industry awards for her work in the development of award-winning whiskies. She has also served on juries at international spirits competitions and numerous industry committees. Commenting on her honorary doctorate, Rachel said: "This is one of the proudest moments of my life. My task has been to unlock a deeper understanding of the distillation, maturation and provenance of Scotch Whisky, to develop and nurture richness of character and taste and celebrate it with the world. It is a great privilege to be recognised in this endeavor."

Rapid ascent

Rachel Barrie's love for whisky began as a child when she grew up in rural Aberdeenshire, near Glen Garioch distillery. She first came into contact with whisky at the age of seven when her grandmother made her a Scottish grog for earaches – a hot toddy made from little whisky, honey and lemon. She later studied chemistry at the University of Edinburgh before starting her career as a researcher at the Scotch Whisky Research Institute. There she worked closely with the legendary Dr. James Swan, who unfortunately died last year. Her rise led her to the Glenmorangie Company, where she was first responsible for the analytical laboratory, then for product development and finally appointed Master Blender in 2003. She joined Morrison Bowmore in 2011, where she developed well-known brands such as Bowmore, Auchentoshan, Laphroaig and Ardmore. Rachel lives with her husband Hamish and their three sons in the Scottish capital Edinburgh.

For Rachel Barrie, distillers and master blenders are the guardians of quality, honouring the legacy and tradition of the past, protecting the quality of spirits in the present, whilst innovating and continuously improving for the future. Today's decisions provide the foundations for growth that will be built on by the master blenders and distillers that follow. "I am very thankful to have had a part to play in creating some of the finest whiskies in the world", she said.


Image: Brown-Forman