I fell in love with chemistry at age 13 and dreamed of becoming a scientist. After high school I attended the University of the West Indies and graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry with First Class Honours.
I then spent a few years teaching chemistry before moving to England to pursue a Master of Science degree in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Loughborough, I graduated with the highest ever achieved by a student at Loughborough.
After graduating from Loughborough, I returned to Jamaica and to teaching. In 1979 I left academia for the private sector and two years later joined Appleton Estate as Chief Chemist. As the Chief Chemist I worked closely with Master Blender, Owen Tulloch, and this sparked a passion for the art of creating rum.
Owen soon discovered that I had considerable organoleptic talent – the ability to detect, identify and differentiate between aromas. Over the next 16 years, under his expert guidance, I extended my knowledge of the science of the rum-making process to include the artistic side as well, honing my sensory skills and developing an unrivaled mastery of flavours and aromas. Then, in 1997 I made history when I smashed the spirit industry’s glass ceiling and was appointed the world’s first female master blender.
Creating rum provides me with the perfect balance of art and science. In rum-making, they are so intricately intertwined that it is difficult to pinpoint where the science stops, and art begins.
I have seen many changes having worked for almost 40 years in the rum industry:
1. The significant growth of the Premium aged rum category.
2. Introduction of LTO’s (Limited Time Offers) focusing on small batch ultra-premium rums
3. Modernization of blending and bottling operations to gain more efficiencies
4. Greater consumer engagement and education
5. The engagement of Master Blenders as Ambassadors, creating a wider platform for technical information
6. The establishment of educational tours at production facilities
There have been so many persons who have inspired me in my career. They are:
1. Owen Tulloch , the previous Master Blender who took me under his wings and taught me the craft
2. William McConnell and Anthony Bell who took the bold move to appoint me as Master Blender
3. Bob Kunze -Concewitz (Campari Group CEO) who has recognized my talent in so many ways, including renaming the Appleton Estate rum experience in my honour
4. My J. Wray and Nephew family and the people of Jamaica for their unwavering support
5. My family who have been my greatest cheer leaders
I really enjoyed the Appleton Reserve but as part of our strategy to become the leader in the Premium aged rum category, age statements are important and the Reserve 8 YO is truly exceptional.
I would select the Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend to sip and enjoy on a warm romantic Jamaican night in my garden. The blend oozes with passion.
I love all genre of music but 60/70 soul, contemporary reggae and Latino music get me rocking!