[Luxus Magazine] Kelsey McKechnie, cellar master at The Balvenie: ‘I fell in love with whisky’.

It’s one of those professions of excellence: maintaining the quality of whisky year after year and bringing out all the flavours of the precious liquid. A sharp nose, a highly developed palate, respect for craftsmanship and know-how, a keen understanding of the brand’s heritage, a vision for the future… The role of the cellar master in the whisky industry is as complex as it is exciting. But also mysterious. Here we meet Kelsey McKechnie, cellar master at The Balvenie in Scotland and, incidentally, one of the youngest people in the world to do the job.


© The Balvenie


What’s your story?


My name is Kelsey McKechnie and I’m Malt Master at The Balvenie. I started at William Grant and Sons, the company that owns The Balvenie. I started working in the laboratory 10 years ago. I was in charge of all the routine analysis of our spirits, to make sure that the flavours of our new bottles were perfect, that they respected the identity of the brands and that we had an adequate yield.


We wanted to get as much alcohol out of our grain as possible. From there, I travelled to several of our sites, to immerse myself as fully as possible in the creation process and the DNA of the brands. I joined The Balvenie’s mixing and blending team in 2017, with whom I still work. Initially, a large part of my role was to ensure the quality of the whisky. Over the years, I’ve been able to evolve into the role of cellar master.


Wine, cognac, rum… Why did you choose whisky?


To be honest, I didn’t really realise how exciting it was to work in whisky. I started my career in the laboratory and have always had a great passion for flavours. Having the opportunity to work on simple samples to make whisky came alive. I think I started without really realising what was in store for me. As the years went by, I fell more and more in love with whisky. Not to mention the region, which is ideal for a career in the sector.


Could you describe a typical day for you?


A typical day is spent in our blending room, where all our samples are kept. We spend the day checking the quality and maturation of our spirits before bottling them. Consistency is the key word in the whisky industry; there has to be perfect continuity, which requires very strict specifications.


I also work closely with our stock management team, to ensure that production is in line with what we want to sell over the next year and also over the next 50 years. We also work very closely with our distillery on a wide range of tasks. It’s vital to have close contact with the people on the ground and to have regular updates on what’s happening at the heart of production. In short, no two days are the same. And that’s what’s so exciting about this job.


Click here to read the full article on Luxus Magazine.

Featured photo : © The Balvenie

Picture of Pauline Duvieu
Pauline Duvieu
Fashion, hotels, gastronomy, jewelry, beauty, design... Pauline Duvieu is a journalist specializing in luxury and the art of living. Passionate about the high-end spheres that arouse emotion, she loves to describe the creations of the houses and tell the stories of the talents she meets.

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