ONE of the whisky industry’s only female master blenders has become the first to be given an honorary doctorate by the University of Edinburgh.

Rachel Barrie, from Aberdeenshire, helps to create some of the world’s finest single malt for BenRiach, Glenglassaugh and The GlenDronach distilleries.

Her expertise and service to the whisky industry was recognised by the university when she was made an honorary doctor of science this week.

Barrie grew up in an area of Scotland which has the highest concentration of distilleries in the world. She studied chemistry at the University of Edinburgh then became a research scientist at the Scotch Whisky Research Institute.

“This is one of the proudest moments of my life,” Barrie said. “My quest has been to unlock a deeper understanding of the distillation, maturation and provenance of Scotch, to develop and nurture richness of character and taste and celebrate it with the world; it’s a great privilege to be recognised in this endeavour.”