In Dialog With Dr Rachel Barrie Brown-Forman’s Grasp Blender
Also known as Scotch Whisky’s First Girl and a member of Whisky Journal’s illustrious Corridor of Fame, Rachel Barrie is likely one of the world’s most revered Grasp Blenders with over 30 years of service to the whisky business. She joined Brown-Forman in 2017 and is liable for crafting the distinctive high quality and distinctive identities of The GlenDronach, Benriach and Glenglassaugh’s Single Malt Scotch whiskies. On this Q&A Rachel shares her insights into the business and explores why whisky is attracting a extra numerous viewers than ever earlier than. Learn on to find extra this Worldwide Girls’s Day.
Inform us extra about your position as Grasp Blender – what does a typical day contain?
On daily basis is completely different, I might be nosing whisky and writing tasting notes, planning the cask programmes for the 12 months, or hand-selecting the cask bottlings that we launch annually throughout the three distilleries. It’s a privilege to supervise the wooden coverage, be the guardian of spirit high quality requirements and be sure that each drop of whisky is one of the best it probably will be. In addition to whisky-making, I often get the chance to journey for round 4 weeks annually to all corners of the globe, spreading the phrase about The GlenDronach, Benriach and Glenglassaugh and sourcing oak casks for maturation, from Kentucky to Spain. An enormous a part of my position is to form the way forward for every distillery and convey every to life by way of bespoke, thought of maturation in high quality oak casks.
As one in all solely a handful of feminine Grasp Blenders on this planet, what extra do you assume must be achieved to get extra girls concerned in whisky?
Progress is being made, however there’s nonetheless an extended technique to go. I strongly consider that creating and supporting girls as they rise is essential to attracting and retaining expertise and that is one thing that Brown-Forman continues to do. To enhance issues on this space, Brown-Forman doesn’t simply shout concerning the variety of girls in sure senior positions, I believe it’s extra concerning the choices and attitudes which might be displayed regularly to empower its workers. Kirsten Ainslie joined the workforce in 2021 and has actually confirmed the significance of fostering future generations, making certain that ladies stay on the forefront of the manufacturers’ future imaginative and prescient. It’s all concerning the normalisation of girls in whisky and Worldwide Girls’s Day is absolutely essential for the promotion and celebration of females within the business.
With over 30 years of expertise in whisky, what adjustments have you ever seen within the progress of range and inclusion because you began your profession within the sector?
Over the previous 30 years, it has been fantastic to look at the methods by which the whisky world is tackling range and inclusion. Definitely, there are extra girls concerned in whisky-making than ever earlier than. With rising abilities, data, expertise and competency, girls are influencing manufacturing and advertising, finance and gross sales, and thru inclusive dialogue and training, a broader viewers will be reached, enriching the expertise for all. The business continues to evolve and welcoming Kirsten (our Assistant Blender) to the workforce demonstrates our long-term dedication to investing into and rising our fantastic single malts. Because the business continues to develop and attraction to a wider viewers, I hope that it’ll present extra alternatives for employment and illustration at each degree, which is not going to solely create a richer working atmosphere the place we will be taught and develop from understanding one another’s views, but in addition create one of the best recipe for future success.
And what adjustments have you ever noticed within the business typically?
The whisky neighborhood is turning into ever extra numerous, which is fantastic to be part of and the methods to take pleasure in whisky have gotten extra numerous too. Single malts at the moment are breaking into the cocktail scene with most good bars providing a single malt cocktail on their drinks menu. The whisky business has additionally adopted more and more collaborative methods of working. Enhancements in communications and analytics have led to higher inclusion and sharing of concepts and knowledge. Now, I discover it a lot simpler to hitch every little thing collectively when it comes to whisky creation, from the distillery to the warehouse, high quality, supply and the tip drinker, throughout all geographies on this planet. I want I had one other 30 years to work.
What are the important thing tendencies for the following 5 years we should always look out for?
I’m seeing a seismic shift in shopper tendencies. Customers need to know who’s behind their whisky and are taking an actual curiosity within the intricacies of manufacturing and getting facetime in with bespoke tastings is now extra essential than ever. Tastings have at all times been in style, however more and more shoppers are in search of extra experiential ‘enjoyable’ serves that play on flavours, colors, textures, aromas and interactivity. Sherried whiskies like GlenDronach stay in style, however I’m discovering that persons are exhibiting a zeal to department out into extra numerous flavour profiles corresponding to Benriach’s eclectic fruit-forward portfolio and Glenglassaugh’s luscious candy and salty flavours. Premium spirits are additionally more and more wanted, tying into the general development of ‘drink much less, drink higher’.
You’re a particular person of nice affect. What recommendation would you give to younger professionals beginning out within the business?
Take pleasure in each second and haven’t any worry; have faith and braveness from the beginning; search out alternative and grasp it with each arms. The whisky world is your oyster, and when you search to be a part of it, the alternatives are there to take. The three sayings which have remained with me most on my journey and led me to the place I’m right this moment are: do your greatest and overlook the remainder; search stability in every single day; and success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out.
What’s your recommendation to a whisky novice going right into a whisky bar, once they don’t know what to order?
Whisky is a extremely versatile spirit that may be loved in some ways. On the subject of ordering from a bar, I at all times encourage folks to be adventurous and open to attempting new issues, so if a conventional neat serve isn’t for you, a scrumptious various is to strive whisky over ice or combined in a cocktail. For a extra experiential ‘enjoyable’ serve with a twist, I like to recommend the Benriach Penicillin – one in all our hottest cocktails which completely mixes smoke, lemon and ginger.
Luxurious is very subjective – what does it imply to you?
For me, with regards to luxurious, Scotch whiskies have had this attribute for longer than nearly every other spirit. The way in which our whiskies are produced, and handcrafted, using casks with explicit qualities and the time taken to mature the product all assist create distinctive variations in character and flavour. It’s much more about authenticity, craftsmanship and the best components to create one thing distinctive and ground-breaking in the way it tastes.
Lastly, what’s your life motto?
My greatest mantra is ‘love what you do and do what you like’