The Break­through Blender


The world’s first fe­male Mas­ter Whisky Blender, Rachel Bar­rie from Ed­in­burgh, has been in the in­dus­try for 25 years and is mum to three young boys. A lot has been done over the years, I feel like a bit of a trail­blazer, but maybe it has been partly to do with tim­ing. I was the first woman in the world to be given the ti­tle of Mas­ter Blender. It was in 2003 af­ter I’d been in the in­dus­try for 12 years work­ing in pro­duc­tion, re­search and var­i­ous other parts of the busi­ness. The in­dus­try wants peo­ple to be highly ed­u­cated and open-minded. We have a lot of women here at our head of­fice in Glas­gow. Be­ing as highly ed­u­cated as you can be opens your mind and it brings you op­por­tu­ni­ties too. For most women, one of the great­est chal­lenges is mar­ry­ing your in­stinct to have a fam­ily with your de­sire to suc­ceed in the work­place. I was in my early ca­reer when I had a strong in­stinct about want­ing to have chil­dren. I went back to work full-time and paid for child­care. In hind­sight, I was men­tally very strong, but at the time it felt like a bit of a strug­gle. One time I was in New York, do­ing PR work and my hus­band phoned to tell me our youngest child was in the Sick Kids Hos­pi­tal with pneu­mo­nia, so I had to rush back home! It wasn’t so much of a jug­gle; it’s more of a dance. Ev­ery day some­thing fas­ci­nates me in the whisky in­dus­try, so my am­bi­tion is to keep learn­ing. It’s about per­sonal growth. I don’t need to be the head of a com­pany or a direc­tor; I get most sat­is­fac­tion from nur­tur­ing the growth of ev­ery­body around me, es­pe­cially my chil­dren, and bring­ing out the best in them and me. My future is about lift­ing the progress of my fam­ily, the coun­try, and the in­dus­try. The ad­vice I would give is to: do what you love and work hard, be your­self. Seize all pos­i­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties, and if you feel down, pull your­self out of that. And don’t be in­flu­enced by oth­ers.

‘One of the big­gest chal­lenges is mar­ry­ing your in­stinct to have a fam­ily with a ca­reer.’

Trousers, Prin­ci­ples by Ben de Lisi, £40, neck­lace, Jasper Con­ran, £12, top, Todd Lynn, £45, blazer, Ju­lian Macdon­ald, £75 all at Deben­hams. Hair and make-up: Clare Pear­son.

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