Dr. James Little Beveridge now holds the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

By Jelisa Castrodale
October 28, 2019
Johnnie Walker

Earlier this year, Queen Elizabeth II released her Birthday Honours list, a part of her annual birthday-month celebration that serves to recognize the achievements and successes of a wide range of citizens from the United Kingdom and its Commonwealths. This year, she had 1,073 people on her list, which included three damehoods and four knighthoods.

The 93-year-old monarch also named Oscar-winning actor Olivia Colman (The Favorite) as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and gave the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) to musician Elvis Costello, to adventurer and semi-pro pee-drinker Bear Grylls, and to Dr. James Little Beveridge.

If you don't know Dr. Beveridge by name, you're still probably 100 percent familiar with his work. For the past 40 years, he has served as the Master Blender at Johnnie Walker—and he's only the sixth person in the whisky maker's 199-year history to perform that enviable duty. On Friday, he was officially presented with his OBE award for his "services to the Scotch whisky industry."

Speaking after the presentation at Windsor Castle, Beveridge was quick to thank his colleagues at Johnnie Walker. "Scotch truly is a team effort at every step from grain to glass and it is a privilege to work in such a special industry," he said. "I dedicate this award to all the women and men in our distilleries, coppersmiths, cooperage, warehouses and bottling halls across Scotland who are all responsible for making Johnnie Walker."

Although this is the first time he's been recognized by a member of the Royal Family, Beveridge has already been inducted into the World Whisky Hall of Fame, and he was the first-ever back-to-back winner of the International Whisky Competition's Blender of the Year. He has been with Johnnie Walker for 40 years and, in honor of that accomplishment, one of his next projects will be working on a 40-year-old whisky that will use "some of the rarest Scotch" that Johnnie Walker has in its reserves. (And man oh man, what we'd give to get a taste or two from those reserves).

"Jim is renowned in the Scotch industry for his dedication to the craft of whisky-making and for the incredible whiskies he creates for Johnnie Walker, but he is also known as an exceptional colleague and friend to the people he works with," Ivan Menezes, the chief executive of Johnnie Walker Diageo, said in a statement. "This is worthy recognition of an extraordinary career spanning four decades."

Some of the other food and beverage pros who have been honored by Queen Elizabeth in the past decade include cookbook author and reluctant celebrity chef Marguerite Patton; the CEO of British supermarket chain Iceland Foods; the founder of the Innocent bottled smoothie company; Michelin-starred chef Clare Smyth; and the Royal Household's own cook.

Congratulations, Dr. Beveridge. We know exactly what we'll be toasting you with.

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