First Lady of Scotch

Dr. Rachel Barrie has worked in the whisky industry for nearly 30 years, is one of only a few women master blenders in the world, has been inducted into the Whisky Hall of Fame, and is the Keeper of the Quaich.

In 1991, Dr. Barrie started as a research scientist at The Scotch Whisky Research Institute where she worked to create the ideal bourbon cask for maturation, understand the distillation influence on the character of new-make spirit, and studied the influences of oak maturity and warehouse environment on aging whisky. 

Her next step was creating the on-site quality laboratory for The Glenmorangie Company, along with designing the processes and training staff, along with overseeing all parts of quality control. From Quality Lab Manager she transitioned to Production Development Manager, focusing on whisky innovation and R+D. Dr. Barrie played a crucial role in developing Ardbeg, Glen Moray, and Glenmorangie single malts, along with helping shape the blend recipes for Bailie Nicol Jarvie, Highland Queen, and James Martin. She also got to develop new gin and vodka prototypes!

8 years into her time with Glenmorangie, she became their Whisky Creator and Master Blender, a position she held for a further 8 years.

After leaving Glenmorangie, she put her whisky blending and creation prowess to work for brands such as Bowmore, Auchentoshan, Laphroig, and Ardmore. In 2017, Dr. Barrie was made the Master Blender for Brown-Forman and currently handles creation and blending for BenRiach, The GlenDronach, and Glenglassaugh Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

In December, 2018, she was inducted into the Whisky Hall of Fame, and is the first woman in the Scotch industry to be awarded that honour. The Hall of Fame is the highest accolade of The Whisky Magazine, and it is bestowed as a permanent tribute to those who have made a lasting contribution in the whisky world. 

But that’s not the only high honour Dr. Barrie has received. In October 2019, she was made ‘Keeper of the Quaich’ in a private ceremony at Blair Castle. The Keepers of the Quaich is “an exclusive and international society that recognises those that have shown outstanding commitment to the Scotch Whisky industry.”

This is what she had to say: “Being inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich is a very proud moment in my career. The society brings together those leading the way in Scotch whisky from all corners of the world, and to be part of this highly revered body is an honour, as we continue to push boundaries in perfecting our magnificent spirit.”

“My ambition has always been to unlock the secrets of Scotch whisky making and provenance, to develop and nurture richness of character and celebrate it with the world; it’s an honour to be recognised for this and to be in such esteemed company.”

What a skilled, dynamite, powerhouse woman who has soared to the top of her field and is dedicated to crafting exemplary Scotch whisky. An inspiration, to be sure!


Published by juliamenn

Performer. Artist. Author. Lover of food and travel. Animal enthusiast. Avid reader. Globe-trotter.

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