Diageo is the world’s biggest whisky producer (although they provide other drinks, as well) with over 200 brands under their umbrella.
Maureen Robinson has been working in the whisky industry, and with Diageo, for over 40 years. She is Diageo’s Master Blender and oversees Single Malts, blends, as well as their yearly Special Releases, which particularly pique her interest. She’s also a judge for whisky competitions and was named Keeper of the Quaich in 2012.
Her first nine years in the industry were spent learning the science of whisky, as a student at Scottish Distillers Glenochil Research Station back in 1977. From honing her nosing and tasting skills (even creating her own language around it) and moving from a role in quality assurance to Master Blender (where she works on products from concept and liquid selection through to development and launch), her work in the Scotch whisky world is impressive, to say the least.
“I’m very proud to work with Scotch, the world’s favourite whisky to be enjoyed whenever, wherever – I love travelling widely to find new flavours and smells, it all influences my work.”
She’s also an advocate for NAS (non-age statement) whisky – which many people (erroneously) think mean young and therefore bad. That is not the case at all! Producing NAS whiskies can actually free up the Blender to let the whisky express itself how it wants to, rather than forcing it to wait until a specific age is met.
Passing her landmark 40th year with Diageo back in 2017, she had this to say, “I can’t quite believe I’ve worked here for 40 years, it’s been such a journey and lots has changed over the past four decades. I love my job very much, I am privileged to work on fascinating projects, with brilliant people all around the world.”
In honour of her 40th anniversary with them, Diageo launched The Johnnie Walker Black Label’s the Jane Walker Edition, a blended whisky that Robinson had free reign to create. It was meant to raise awareness for the strong role women have played in the whisky industry throughout the years, but however well intentioned a gesture it was meant to be, it was met with some serious backlash by the whisky drinking community for seemingly pandering to women by making a whisky specifically aimed at them.
Thankfully, a wee bit of customer criticism hasn’t stopped this remarkable woman from continuing to create remarkable spirit.
To Maureen, I raise a glass, and to you, dear reader, I say, Keep Drinking!