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Balvenie malt master David Stewart's delight at receiving MBE

David Stewart, malt master at The Balvenie, has been recognised with an MBE for services to the Scotch whisky industry. 

Published: July 12, 2016
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An MBE - Member of the Order of the British Empire - is awarded in recognition of “significant achievement or outstanding service to the community”.

Considered to be a legend within the world of Scotch whisky, the Malt Master, who has received many accolades from within the industry itself, said he was delighted to receive the honour, which he believes 'tops the lot'.

David attended the ceremony at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh at the start of this month after receiving news of his nomination at the end of last year.

He said: "It came as a big surprise, I really wasn’t expecting to receive this award. Obviously someone in the company nominated me, which I didn’t know, so really when I got the letter at the end of November I felt it was a huge honour."

An industry stalwart, he has dedicated almost 54 years of his life to Scotch whisky. His pioneering techniques have had a profound impact on Scotch whisky production methods used today and he is renowned for his ground breaking work particularly around ‘cask finishes’ for The Balvenie, and has developed a number of award winning whiskies enjoyed and loved by whisky drinkers all over the world.

The whisky legend enjoyed the day itself, saying it was one "he would never forget".


He said: "I was delighted to meet the queen, she pinned the medal onto my jacket and we had a few words together just about whisky and the industry.

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"She asked me if I drink a lot of whisky and I told her during working time that I'm mainly nosing the whisky, it gave her a wee bit of a smile, I think she was surprised to learn that we spend most of our time sniffing the whisky instead of drinking it.

"I felt very proud, it wasn't something I was expecting to get. I know it's not something that many people do get, even in the industry, there's not many people who get this award. I was honoured, it was quite an experience and a day I'll never forget."

Largely considered to be one of the more humble celebrities within the world of whisky, David was quick to acknowledge those he has worked with and thank those who had contacted him to congratulate him on his award.

“I’ve received a number of messages from people all around the world. I’d like to thank those who have been kind enough to congratulate me on the award and to all of the wonderful people I’ve worked with since I started almost 54 years ago.”

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Simon Hunt, CEO of William Grant & Sons, said: “David’s dedication, skill and modesty have made him one of the best-loved and respected craftsmen in the business. David’s MBE is a testament to how well respected he is. He is considered to be one of the greatest master blenders and we are incredibly proud of him."

• For more information on The Balvenie and David Stewart’s MBE celebrations visit The Balvenie UK’s website, Facebook and Twitter.

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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