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The Balvenie In Canada Celebrates The Exceptional Character Of Three Women Leaders In Whisky To Kick-Off Women’s Month

In a remarkable display of complex skill, creative flair, and a passion for innovation, The Balvenie in Canada proudly celebrates its women leaders who continue to make their mark on the ever-evolving whisky industry.


The Balvenie proudly celebrates three very important women in whisky leaders who continue to showcase exceptional character while pioneering with a remarkable display of complex skill, creative flair, and passion for innovation.

Kelsey McKechnie, Malt Master, The Balvenie

Years ago, the whisky industry was dominated by men, but the Balvenie has been a global disruptor for women in the whisky space. In October 2022, The Balvenie embarked on a new legacy, appointing its first female Malt Master, Kelsey McKechnie, to an elite and exclusive group of women whisky experts in the industry. Kelsey is a true whisky enthusiast with creative flair and is known for her progressive yet respectful approach to crafting The Balvenie’s traditional single malt whiskies. The Balvenie is one of the few whisky distilleries globally with a female Malt Master at its helm.

Prior to first joining The Balvenie in 2014, Kelsey graduated with a BSc in Biology and continued to achieve her Masters in Brewing and Distilling in addition to her MBA. She was appointed to the prestigious role of Apprentice Malt Master in 2018 at the age of 26, notably one of the youngest women in the world to hold the title.

During her time at The Balvenie distillery, Kelsey has become an integral female leader and is one of few women in the world to achieve the prestigious role of Malt Master. She is responsible for nosing samples to ensure a balance of notes and consistent character in The Balvenie’s single malts. Kelsey continues to uphold a true mastering of passion and complex skill required to create the finest single malt scotch whiskies at The Balvenie distillery in Speyside, Scotland.

“I am proud to be a female leader with the opportunity to continue a rich legacy within The Balvenie and the whisky industry as a whole,” comments Kelsey McKechnie, Malt Master, The Balvenie. “I plan to continue to build upon traditional techniques whilst putting my stamp on future whisky innovation at The Balvenie. Continuing our craft is a privilege and I look forward to seeing The Balvenie through the generations to come as Malt Master.”

Follow Kelsey on Instagram @Kelsey.Mckechnie.

Gemma Paterson, Global Brand Manager, The Balvenie

In 2016, The Balvenie’s Gemma Paterson was the first woman to join The Balvenie Ambassador Team. Born and bred in the Highlands of Scotland, Gemma tasted her first dram of The Balvenie in the Hebridean Isle of Lewis. Following her graduation from the University of Glasgow, Gemma moved to Speyside, Scotland and joined The Balvenie distillery in 2011 to study the art and science of hand crafting the iconic scotch whisky.

“Living and working in Speyside and surrounded by some of the most iconic Single Malt distilleries in Scotland inspired me to start learning about whisky”, comments Paterson. “Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I fell down the rabbit hole so to speak. I love learning about the production, the history, maturation, the sensory side, the liquid…it’s never ending.”

Learning has been a key ingredient in Gemma’s success as a notable expert in the field. As a self-starer and avid learner, Gemma holds a General Certificate in Distillation from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in London. 

In 2018, Gemma Paterson took the reins as Global Brand Ambassador from Sam Simmons who previously held the title for 8 years. The following year, in 2019, Gemma was named “Scotch Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year” at the Whisky Magazine Icons of Whisky Awards.

Most recently Gemma took on a new role as Global Brand Manager for The Balvenie, applying her skills and extensive whisky knowledge to steward the brand’s global marketing reach.

Follow Gemma on Instagram @BalvenieGem.

Jamie Johnson, Canadian Brand Ambassador, The Balvenie

The Balvenie’s Canadian Brand Ambassador, Jamie Johnson, continues to make her mark on the whisky industry both in Canada and worldwide through her many storytelling and enthusiasm to build brand knowledge for both new and experienced scotch drinkers and collectors.

Jamie’s career as a notable voice in the whisky community initially stemmed from a personal passion project meets podcast called “The Bourbon Thing”. Created as an opportunity to taste and discuss drams with friends, this unique endeavor allowed Jamie to organically build relationships in the whisky industry not only in her home province of Ontario, but across Canada and the world.

In 2017, Jamie Johnson first joined The Balvenie as Canadian Brand Ambassador and has since continued to passionately educate about the tradition and craftsmanship behind The Balvenie’s whisky process across the globe. Respectively in 2018 and 2020, The Balvenie welcomed two additional female Brand Ambassadors, Naomi Leslie of the United States, and Mijung Kim of South Korea, making for a more representative group of ambassadors than previously seen in the whisky industry. Jamie also proudly earned her place in an elite group of whisky experts following her successful completion of the prestigious General Certificate in Distilling, awarded by the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in 2018. The certificate promotes excellence in education, training and professional standards in the science and technology of distilling on a global scale.

“It is truly an honour to work alongside so many exceptional women leaders at The Balvenie,” comments Jamie Johnson, Canadian Brand Ambassador. “I am proud to have the opportunity to lead education for The Balvenie in Canada, fostering an inclusive space for women to engage in this wonderful community while discussing the remarkable craftsmanship of The Balvenie single malt whiskies.”

The whisky industry has been seeing a shift in representation, with new and younger women at the helm. From roles in marketing and distribution to Malt Masters and Brand Ambassadors, the world of whisky now includes more women than ever before, a positive shift in the industry. In a true testament of passion for innovation, The Balvenie is proud to contribute to the ever-evolving whisky industry with women leaders at its helm, showcasing exceptional character, passion, and tradition in all aspects of their craft.