Pioneering whisky-maker who blazed a trail for women bows out after 45 years

A pioneering whisky-maker is being celebrated as she prepares to set down her blending glass after almost five decades in the industry.

Master blender Maureen Robinson was one of the first women in the industry to hold the prestigious title and is seen as having blazed a trail for others looking to rise to the top.

During her time at spirits giant Diageo, Robinson has worked on many of the company’s most famous brands including The Singleton, Johnnie Walker, Buchanan’s and Old Parr

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She is said to have built an “unparalleled knowledge” of Diageo’s ten million-cask inventory and has been instrumental in developing the firm’s most prestigious projects including the Diageo Special Releases, Casks of Distinction programme and the highly sought-after Prima & Ultima series.

Her legacy at the company will be preserved in its 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 and procurement, Ewan Andrew, 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.”

Rhona Ferrans, who leads the company’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.”

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. Picture: Mike Wilkinson

McKerchar 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.”

After studying pharmacy at Strathclyde University, Robinson 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.

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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Robinson said: “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.”

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