Whisky Magazine Issue 63
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Caroline Dewar meets the latest in the line of Dewar's master blenders
The master blender at Dewar's in Glasgow is a calm and collected presence as she welcomes you to the premises. Following Tom Aitken's retirement in summer 2006, Stephanie McLeod is now one of only a small number of senior women on the production side of Scotch whisky.
Her role is quality and consistency guardian of the Dewar's blends and malts and of all incoming whiskies and casks. She will also be creator of any new offerings. Only in her 30s, she has put in plenty of hardwork to get here – and it is a job she obviously enjoys.
So how did it happen? First there was a degree in Food Science from Strathclyde University. That was followed up by a stint at Barr's, the soft drink producer and then four years as a research assistant on whisky back at Strathclyde. Part of her work there was sensory and chemical analysis which continues to inform her domain at Dewar's.
“Part of my research was to unlock the secrets of maturation – and we've still not done it.” After that, a move to Wm. Lawson's QC team, which subsequently became part of Dewar's. In 2000 she was put in charge of the laboratory where she set up a sensory panel – a new feature there. In 2002 she was asked if she was interested in training formally as a blender and worked with Tom to deepen her expertise and knowledge.
So what are the day-to-day tasks of a master blender? Are they locked away in labs all day, creating? For Stephanie, her days involve running the two test laboratories apart from her own no...