The World’s First Female Master Blender is Jamaican!

If you are  unfamiliar with the profession, a master blender is a highly skilled individual who decides on the composition of blended spirits.

Jamaicans have been the first to achieve many things in the world.

Our very own Joy Spence is the world’s first master blender. She attended the University of the West Indies before she moved to England to pursue a Masters of Science degree in Analytical Chemistry at Loughborough University.

After graduation, Spence returned to Jamaica and lectured at the College of Arts Science and Technology (now renamed as the University of Technology). She then worked as a research and development chemist with Tia Maria liqueur.


Yet, the high-energy Spence—“I love to dance,” she says—soon grew restless working with a single product, and noticed the furor of activity at adjacent Appleton Estates.

Jamaican Joy Spence world's first female master blender“I used to sit and look across the fence,” she says. “I would think, ‘Oh my gosh—so many tankers rolling in and out—that place seems very interesting.’ So I sent in my résumé.”

Spence was hired as chief chemist in 1981, working closely with then-Master Blender Owen Tulloch. She assumed the role in 1997.

Compared to those early years of gazing across the fence, her hectic, wide-ranging role now encompasses aspects of production (developing new rums and blends and ensuring the quality of existing products) as well as marketing, traveling the world to promote
Appleton Estates. (Image:

Now, she says, “My job is complex, and I definitely do not get bored.”

Watch her give a tour of the Appleton Estates and discuss the intricacies of rum production within the country of Jamaica below:



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