SCOTCH whisky giant Diageo has appointed its first ever female master blender for its Johnnie Walker blend.

Emma Walker will succeed veteran master blender Jim Beveridge, who is retiring after more than 40 years with the drinks company. Mr Beveridge has been Johnnie Walker's master blender for the last two decades.

Ms Walker has worked on different areas of whisky production during her career, and in the last six years has focused on the Johnnie Walker brand.

Her innovations have included the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare series and Jane Walker by Johnnie Walker.

Ms Walker, who will lead a team of 12 whisky experts, said: “I am honoured to take on the title of master blender of Johnnie Walker, and at an exciting time for the brand as we embark on the next step of our journey looking ahead to the next 200 years.

"I love experimenting and innovating with flavour and we’ll be working hard to not only continue to deliver the unrivalled quality that we are renowned for but also introducing blends to appeal to a new generation of Scotch whisky fans.”

Mr Beveridge began his career with Johnnie Walker as an analytical chemist 42 years ago, and has gone on to establish himself as a highly respected figure within the whisky trade. He was an awarded an OBE for services to the industry in 2019.

Mr Beveridge said: “It is with pleasure and confidence that I pass on this privilege to Emma. I know she will do a wonderful job as she possesses the knowledge, expertise, and dedication to make an amazing master blender. On a personal level I am delighted for her, and I know that her wonderfully infectious personality, that made working with her so enjoyable, will bring something exciting and different to the team and, indeed, to the wider Scotch industry.”