Kelsey McKechnie and David Stewart at The Balvenie

The Balvenie has appointed Kelsey McKechnie as apprentice malt master.

The 25-year-old, who graduates this year with an MSc in brewing and distilling from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, will join the William Grant & Sons brand’s malt master David Stewart in overseeing “excellence and consistency” at the brand’s Dufftown base.

McKechnie began working for WG&S as a technical graduate and whisky technologist while studying for her MSc, and has already shadowed Stewart in the development of recent expressions such as Peat Week 14yo, Double Wood Aged 25yo and The Balvenie Fifty: Marriage 0962.

She will now “play an active role in assisting David with the distillery’s important work in whisky innovation, sampling, assessing and launching expressions of the future”, said WG&S.

It was “hard to underplay the significance of this announcement”, said Stewart. “The appointment to apprentice malt master represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for anyone working in the whisky industry.

“To achieve this at just 25 years old is testament to Kelsey’s abilities. She is a precious talent; with a real flair for distillation, a dedication to her craft and a self-assurance and poise that completely belies her young age.

“She has also shown that she has an expert palate and skill for nosing and assessing whisky, which combined with her natural abilities and academic background made her the ideal candidate to be my apprentice.”

Stewart previously mentored distilling heavyweights such as Glenfiddich malt master Brian Kinsman.