John Ramsay is one of blending’s quiet men. Joining the industry in 1966 he has been responsible for countless bottles of some of the world’s most loved brands. He was Master Blender with Wm
Lawson from 1981 and is now in charge of Edrington’s huge range which includes Famous Grouse, one of the world’s largest selling whiskies, the most popular Scotch whisky in Scotland and a brand with a heritage stretching back to 1896
With Famous Grouse alone, John is responsible for more than 30 million bottles of whisky sold in more than 30 countries every year
To add to this, he also blends Cutty Sark for Berry Bros and Rudd, and plays a major role in The Glenrothes and Highland Park ranges
He controls the whisky-making process across all aspects of production, which is very technical. While he accepts that the blender must have knowledge of barley varieties through to “the uses for Solid Phase Micro Extraction (SPME/GC) as used by our chemists”, John’s also happy to accept that there’s a creative side to his work – not only producing new products but fusing apparently disparate elements into a seamless whole
He’s quick to refute the notion that you should be able to taste individual malts in a blend. “The malts will direct the style, but blending is a synergy – the blended complex exceeding any component part.
This is achieved, he feels, by Edrington’s insistence on using the unfashionable (and expensive) technique of marrying the whiskies together before bottling. “Not just malt and grain,” he emphasises, “but malt, grain, water and time. Utilising these four elements allows me to blend for consistency, as well as maximising flavour and mouthfeel by the use of a very gentle filtration regime.