David Stewart recognised in the New Year’s Honours list with a MBE for services to the Scotch whisky industry

David Stewart- MBE


The remarkable career of The Balvenie’s David Stewart, the longest serving malt master in the industry, is acknowledged with prestigious award


 The Balvenie Malt Master, David Stewart, has today been recognised in the New Year’s Honours list with a MBE for services to the Scotch whisky industry.

After nearly 54 years in the industry, David’s pioneering techniques have had a profound impact on Scotch whisky production methods used today. He is renowned for his groundbreaking work particularly around ‘cask finishes’ for The Balvenie and has developed a number of award winning whiskies enjoyed and loved by whisky drinkers all over the world. He is one of only 12 malt masters in the Scotch whisky industry, a small band of master craftsmen who have perfected the art, alchemy and scientific understanding of whisky making, and he is the longest-serving of them all.

 Stella David, Chief Executive of William Grant & Sons, the company that owns The Balvenie, said:


“David’s innovative approach and total dedication to his craft, coupled with his modest, unassuming manner have made him one of the best loved and respected craftsmen in the business. The company is absolutely delighted for David and this honour is testament to the fact that David is one of the greatest master blenders of a generation. Not that he would ever admit it himself.

“His passion for retaining tradition as well as championing experimentation makes The Balvenie a refined and distinguished single malt that is as well loved amongst newer whisky enthusiasts as it is amongst seasoned whisky aficionados. Over five decades, David has honed this supreme skill down to a fine art – and his role is one of the five rare crafts that make The Balvenie Distillery unique in today’s world.”

David Stewart started work at The Balvenie distillery in 1962 at the age of just 17. During a 12-year apprenticeship, he mastered the skills of nosing and creating the best quality single malt Scotch whisky. David was then appointed The Balvenie Malt Master and has held that position ever since, making him the most experienced malt master in the industry.

david stewart receing mbe from queenDespite his well-known avoidance of the limelight, David has been widely recognised by industry peers with a number of accolades including the Grand Prix of Gastronomy by the British Academy of Gastronomes, lifetime achievement awards from the International Wine & Spirit Competition and whisky magazine Malt Advocate, and was made an Icon of Whisky from Whisky Magazine and a Master of the Quaich, from the Keepers of the Quaich society, an international organisation established to promote Scotch whisky worldwide.

David’s list of key achievements as The Balvenie Malt Master includes the development of two cask maturation in the 1980s, unheard of at the time, but these days an established technique referred to as ‘finishing’ and widely enjoyed as The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old and The Balvenie DoubleWood 17 Year Old.

In 2012, David celebrated his 50th anniversary at the distillery with the release of The Balvenie Fifty, one of The Balvenie’s most rare and precious releases. His spirit of experimentation led to The Balvenie 21 Year Old and Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old, all pushing the boundaries of The Balvenie’s traditional place in the world of single malt Scotch whisky. Just recently, David curated The Balvenie DCS Compendium, an ambitious launch of 25 whiskies released over five years, and a fitting tribute to his incredible career.

About The Balvenie:

  •  The Balvenie is a unique range of single malts created by David Stewart, The Balvenie Malt Master, who celebrates his 53rd year at the distillery in 2015. Each has a very individual taste, but each is rich, luxuriously smooth and underpinned by the distinctively honeyed character of The Balvenie.
  •  The Balvenie is dedicated to the five rare crafts that are used to create The Balvenie’s distinctive taste. It is the only distillery that still grows its own barley, uses traditional floor maltings and keeps both coppersmiths and coopers on site – making The Balvenie the most handcrafted of malts.
  •  The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky is produced by William Grant & Sons Ltd, an award-winning independent family-owned distiller founded by William Grant in 1886 and today run by his direct descendants.

Note: All views on this post are my own and may not necessarily reflect the views of my employer. Others quoted on this post were used for context only.

This blog was originally published in December 2015 on LinkedIn


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