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David Stewart


David Stewart

David Stewart is the gentle man of blending. Self-effacing to a fault, he has, during 40 plus years at William Grant & Sons, managed to quietly craft a portfolio of whiskies which are not only among the most popular in the world, but are hugely respected by his colleagues in the industry

He has masterminded a discreet revolution at Glenfiddich which has seen the world’s No.1 single malt brand pick up extra depth in its 12 Years Old expression. He’s innovated with the use of a solera system in the 15 Year Old and peaty barrels in Caoran Reserve as well as building a range which demonstrates that being No.1 does not mean you lack in complexity

If that wasn’t enough, he’s built Balvenie from the secret love of a few aficionados to a brand in its own right as well as overseeing the building of two new distilleries: Kininvie and the recently opened Ailsa Bay. Stir in the Grant’s blends and Monkey Shoulder and you have a body of work the breadth of which few can rival

Say that to him and he would undoubtedly just say: ‘Thanks very much,” and immediately try and deflect the praise elsewhere. Not any more

Dave Broom: All master blenders don't view their job in the same way. Some are restless globe-trotters, clocking an impressive mileage and stepping on all international stages to promote what they have designed in their sample room. Others avoid the spotlights and prefer the comforting twilight of a warehouse. David Stewart belongs to this second category

Joining William Grant & Sons in 1962, as a whisky stocks clerk, aged 17, David has patiently learned the mysteries of blending, the clerk of yesterday becoming the master blender of today who keeps the records and memory of 770 000 casks stored in 45 warehouses.

David is the longest serving master blender in the industry to remain with one distiller. Forty-seven years to watch over William Grant & Son portfolio, for a number of years in total anonymity. If the man is as self-effacing as modest, the talent reveals itself in the bottle

He has shaped the company's portfolio, bringing Glenfiddich and Balvenie on the highest steps of the podium in international competitions, gaining the admiration and the affection of all his peers in the industry. For David is a nice and charming man and an open mind to innovation too. The Balvenie Double Wood – probably his favourite creation – was the pioneer of finish maturation, now so popular in the industry

A balanced spirit, with a honeyed tone and gentle charm. Who are we speaking of? Balvenie or David Stewart, the quiet man with an inspired nose? For sure, David Stewart

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