Balvenie appoints apprentice malt master

31st August, 2018 by Owen Bellwood

William Grant & Sons-owned Scotch whisky distillery The Balvenie has named Kelsey McKechnie as its apprentice malt master.

Kelsey McKechnie (left) will be mentored by The Balvenie malt master David Stewart MBE (right)

McKechnie, from Glasgow, takes on the position having previously worked as a technical graduate and whisky technologist with William Grant & Sons.

In the new position, the 25-year-old will learn her craft alongside David Stewart MBE, the whisky industry’s longest serving malt master.

McKechnie will be responsible for the consistency of every bottle of The Balvenie, ensuring casks are maturing correctly, and will play a key role in whisky innovation, sampling and the development of new expressions in the future.

McKechnie said: “It’s definitely been a huge passion of mine, blending and creating these new whiskies and it’s something that I love to do.

“The more I got involved in the nosing and tasting of whisky, I began to think that I don’t want anyone else to be doing this – I really want to be doing this. So I got in touch with Brian [Kinsman, Glenfiddich malt master] and David and I’ve definitely worked really hard, but I think I’ve also been in the right place at the right time. It’s just such a great opportunity and I’m so grateful.”

Stewart, who has worked in the industry for 56 years, will continue his tenure at The Belvenie while mentoring McKechnie. He previously mentored Glenfiddich malt master Brian Kinsman for eight years and was an apprentice himself for 12 years under the distillery’s former master blender, Hamish Robertson.

Stewart said: “It’s hard to underplay the significance of this announcement – the appointment to apprentice malt master represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for anyone working in the whisky industry.

“To achieve this at just 26-years-old is testament to Kelsey’s abilities. She is a precious talent, with a real flair for distillation, a dedication to her craft and a self-assurance and poise that completely belies her young age.”

In her time with William Grant & Sons, McKechnie has so far worked on The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Years and the brand’s recently announced The Balvenie Fifty: Marriage 0962.

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