Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “Lifetime Achievement Awards”: John Ramsay and Robert Hicks
This year, we honor two master blenders who have greatly impacted the Scotch whisky industry.
John Ramsay retired in 2009 after 43 years in the whisky industry. He started as a chemist in 1966, and over the years he’s had the combined roles of both master blender and chemist (the last eighteen years being with Edrington).
By the time he retired, he was responsible for both the laboratory and sample rooms (sensory analysis), overseeing employees responsible for the sensory examination of casks, new distillate, and mature whiskies. He’s been on the judging panel for various spirits competitions, and is also a “Keeper of the Quaich.”
John was the master blender for well-known blends like Cutty Sark and The Famous Grouse, and was also one of the “malt masters” of Highland Park and The Macallan. But perhaps his most significant achievement was the selection and creation of The Glenrothes since its release as a single malt in 1994. His signature is proudly stamped on every bottle of it since 2004, when he was involved in the creation of their “vintage” concept, which continues today.
Well done, John.
Robert Hicks started his career in whisky back in 1964. Before retiring from Allied Distillers in 2005 as master blender, he was responsible for the quality and flavor of many well-known whisky brands, including Ballantine’s, Teacher’s Highland Cream, and Laphroaig.
Since 2005, he has been a consultant master blender for Beam Global Spirits and Wines, working on Teacher’s Highland Cream, Laphroaig, and Ardmore whiskies.
His expertise covers all parts of the whisky industry, from distilling and maturation to blending, bottling, and marketing. Because of his efforts he has received numerous awards, and so have his whiskies. His most recent effort, and the one he’s most proud of, is the development of Laphroaig Quarter Cask.
As the scotch brand director for Beam Global put it: “To produce this exciting and unique Laphroaig variant is a tribute to the skills of Robert Hicks, who has overseen every step of this unrivaled process.”
We couldn’t agree more.