Caroline Martin has been with Diageo for over 33 years and as Master Blender, helps to ensure the ongoing quality and innovation requirements of its brands – Johnnie Walker, Old Parr, Buchanan’s, J&B Rare, Bell’s Original amongst others. She also works with whiskies other than Scotch, in particular Indian & Irish - she is the blender of Roe & Co, Diageo’s only Irish whiskey.
She is also a whisky educator, Keeper of the Quaich, and is passionate about sensory analysis and whisky flavour.
Did you see any new trends in the judging this year?
The quality overall is rising, which is a good thing. It means we’re learning from each other, which is great. I think the approachable blends are coming through more – ones that are accessible, quite soft in flavour and aroma, and that’s something that I fully appreciate from a consumer perspective as well.
What are you looking for when judging spirits?
It’s not about my preference, so I try to put that to the side. It’s more about the balance of the distillery character versus the wood character. If you get that right, you’ve got a really good product.
How can awards from the IWSC help producers?
It’s one way of giving them feedback. I would like to think that it’s positive and constructive. If there is any opportunity for them to improve their product, then that feedback will help them do that.