Meet The World’s First Female Master Blender And the Namesake of Jamaica’s Newest Rum Attraction
Appleton Estate’s Master Blender, Dr. Joy Spence, has the distinction of being the first woman to hold the position of Master Blender in the spirits industry.
In this role, Joy is responsible for ensuring the quality and consistency of existing blends — from distillation through maturation, blending and bottling, as well as developing new blends. Her skill and passion for her craft, and her wonderfully warm and spirited personality, shine through in every bottle of Appleton Estate rum.
The Journey to the Top
Joy fell in love with chemistry at age 13, and at that time, she set her mind on a career as a scientist. After high school, she attended the University of the West Indies and graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science Degree, First Class Honors. After graduation, Joy spent some years teaching chemistry, before moving to England to pursue a Master of Science degree in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Loughborough. Joy graduated with Honours and, in fact, her final exams score were the highest ever achieved by a student at Loughborough, a record that still stands today.
After graduating from Loughborough, Joy returned to Jamaica and to teaching. In 1979, she left academia for the private sector and two years later joined J. Wray & Nephew Limited as the Chief Chemist.
As the Chief Chemist, Joy had the opportunity to work closely with the then Master Blender, Owen Tulloch, and this apprenticeship sparked a passion for the art of creating rum.
Owen soon discovered that, in addition to being a brilliant chemist, Joy also had a considerable organoleptic talent (the ability to detect, identify and differentiate between aromas), and under his expert guidance, Joy extended her knowledge of the science of the rum- making process to include the artistic side as well.
Creating rum provides Joy with the perfect balance of art and science. She says that in rum-making, these two disciplines are so closely intertwined that it is difficult to pinpoint where the science stops and the art begins.