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Kentucky Owl names Maureen Robinson master blender

Maureen Robinson has taken over blending duties from John Rhea, and brings 45 years of experience making Scotch whisky to Kentucky Owl.

Robinson brings 45 years of experience in Scotch whisky to the role

Kentucky Owl, which is owned by the Stoli Group, announced today (7 September) that Maureen Robinson will be taking over as master blender.

Robinson previously worked for Diageo on a number of Scotch whiskies including Johnnie Walker, The Singleton, Buchanan’s, and Old Parr.

She will bring 45 years of industry experience to the role and will be the first female master blender for the brand.

“I’m really looking forward to my new career venture into the bourbon industry and, as the first female master blender at Kentucky Owl, I look forward to being a role model for aspiring women who have a passion for whiskey making,” said Maureen Robinson.

“I’m honoured to have this opportunity to work with The Stoli Group and bring my expertise from my career in Scotland to Kentucky Owl, a brand that I hold in high regard.”

Robinson takes over from Rhea, a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame for his work at Four Roses, who joined Kentucky Owl in 2021.

Before Rhea, Dixon Dedman served as the master blender, having revived his family’s pre-Prohibition brand in 2014. Kentucky Owl immediately captured the attention of faithful American whiskey drinkers with high proof, and often highly aged, Bourbon and rye blends, released at equally high price points.

In the years since, the brand has introduced more affordable expressions under The Wiseman label and collaborated with whisky makers around the globe on a series of releases that bridges different styles and whiskey-making techniques.

While the move will be a shift in style for Robinson, who was appointed a Keeper of the Quaich in 2012, and was inducted into the Scotch Whisky Hall of Fame in 2019, she will pull from her experience working with second-fill Bourbon barrels as they are heavily used in Scotch.

“I’m excited to be now working with first fill bourbon barrels, understanding how flavor is influenced using new American oak barrels and the processes you can use to differentiate these flavours to create new whiskeys,” she said.

Stoli Group Global CEO Chris Caldwell shared his enthusiasm for bringing Robinson on.

“With Maureen’s impressive knowledge and vast blending experience on some of the world’s biggest Scotch whisky brands, we are incredibly fortunate to have someone of her caliber to follow on from John Rhea and we are all looking forward to her future contributions to Kentucky Owl with her new role as Master Blender,” he said. “We would also like to take this opportunity to say a huge thanks to John for his immense blending stewardship of Kentucky Owl and The Wiseman and wish him all the very best in his retirement.”

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