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Pioneering Master Blender Maureen Robinson celebrated as she bows out after 45 years blazing a trail for women in Scotch whisky

Master Blender Maureen Robinson and Jo McKerchar, Diageo Malt Brand Archivist

THE extraordinary career of legendary Scotch whisky-maker Maureen Robinson is being celebrated as she prepares to set down her blending glass after 45 years in the industry.

Master Blender Maureen, one of the first women in the industry to hold that prestigious title, has dedicated her professional life to the twin causes of making great Scotch whisky and making Scotch whisky great by creating opportunities for other women to succeed in the business.

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During her time at Diageo, Maureen has worked on many of the company’s leading brands including The Singleton, Johnnie Walker, Buchanan’s and Old Parr. She built an unparalleled knowledge of Diageo’s 10 million cask inventory and has been instrumental in developing the company’s most prestigious projects including the Diageo Special Releases, Casks of Distinction programme and the highly sought-after Prima & Ultima series.

Her incredible legacy at Diageo will be preserved in the company’s global drinks Archive at Menstrie, and she marked her retirement by passing on her blending notes to Diageo Malts Archivist Jo McKerchar, so that future generations of blenders can learn from her work.

Diageo President for Supply Chain & Procurement, Ewan Andrew, praised Maureen as an inspirational figure in the company’s drive to create true inclusion and diversity across its workforce.

He said: “Since the 1970s Maureen Robinson has been blazing a trail in our business and the wider industry, breaking down barriers for other women to follow in her pioneering footsteps.

“Her unstinting dedication to quality in her work, and her generosity in sharing her knowledge with others, is an inspiration to us all. Everyone at Diageo is proud of Maureen and everything she has achieved in her remarkable career, and we will all seek to continue the wonderful legacy she has built for our brands and our business.”

Also celebrating Maureen’s achievements, Rhona Ferrans, who leads Diageo’s blending team, said: “Maureen has been a wonderful colleague, mentor and friend to everyone in our blending team. As well as being a quite exceptional whisky blender, her dedication to nurturing other members of the team and creating the conditions for others to succeed, is what has defined her incredible 45-year career.”

Jo McKerchar, Diageo Malt Brand Archivist, said: “The breadth and depth of Maureen’s contribution to our whisky brands has been truly remarkable, and we are honoured to take stewardship of her legacy. Our Archive is rich with notebooks and bottles created by the great master blenders of the past 200 years, and Maureen’s contribution will be celebrated alongside the legends of the industry.”

Accepting the tributes with typical modesty, Maureen commented: “It has been a joy and privilege to work for Diageo in the Scotch whisky industry for so many years, and to share my time with so many talented people here in Scotland and around the world.

“I will always cherish the amazing opportunities and experiences to travel and meet people that Scotch whisky has allowed me and although I am stepping back from the frontline, I will continue to offer my support and encouragement to colleagues in any way I can in the future.”

After studying Pharmacy at Strathclyde University, Maureen began her career with Diageo’s predecessor company Distiller’s Company Ltd in 1977 as a young scientist at the Glenochil Research Station in Clackmannanshire. It was here that her exceptional sense of smell was discovered, marking her out as a potential whisky blender. She spent nine years developing her nosing and tasting ability, even creating her own language to describe what she was able to sense, when nosing whiskies. She was made a Keeper of the Quaich in 2012 in recognition of her exceptional contribution to the industry, and was inducted into the Scotch Whisky Hall of Fame in 2019.

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