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.