Guest Speaker - Joy Spence, CD


JOY SPENCE, CD, has the honor of being the first woman to hold the position of Master Blender in the spirits industry, globally. Joy joined Appleton Estate as Chief Chemist in 1981, where her passion for the art of creating rum-blends was inspired by her predecessor and mentor Master Blender, Owen Tulloch, who retired, then paving the way for her appointment as Master Blender in 1997.

She is the first woman in a traditionally male-dominated position. However, in this position, Joy said that she faced little resistance within her own company when given this appointment. With a major task for creating new rum blends, her responsibility is to ensure that all Appleton Estate rum blends meet the high standards that consumers have grown to love and expect – ensuring the quality and consistency of existing blends, creating new blends and monitoring the Company’s inventory of aging rum stocks.

She has been named The Creator of Fine Rums and Spirits as, over the last 20 years, Joy has created some of the finest rums that the world has ever seen including Appleton Estate Reserve Blend and Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old. Most recently, Joy created the Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend which was released in 2017 to mark her 20th Anniversary as Appleton Estate’s Master Blender. This rum was voted Rum of the year 2017 by The Appleton brand continues to do well on the international market.

This female master blender has achieved many accolades to her successful career such as the facility in St. Elizabeth that was named in her honor – The Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Tour. Her passion for her career began as early as age 13 with a love for chemistry and set on being a scientist. She is a graduate of Holy Childhood High School, the University of the West Indies (BSc.) and the University of Loughborough (MSc.). Among her many awards, international and national, she was awarded the Order of Distinction (OD) 2005, by the Jamaican Government for her service and outstanding contribution to the spirits industry; and then in 2017, the Order of Distinction (CD) for the promotion of Jamaica’s rum industry and Brand Jamaica, globally. In 2018, she was the first female to receive the Jamaica Prime Minister Medal for Science and Technology. In 2014, she was the recipient of the University of Loughborough, United Kingdom, Honorary Doctor of Science and the University of the West Indies - Honorary Doctor of Laws, respectively. And others included that of Food and Wine Magazine; International Spirits Challenge; and the list goes on…………

According to Joy, to be a good blender you must be a sensory expert, have an artistic and creative flair, have a good understanding of the chemistry of the process, and have a passion for the art and pay attention to details.

While the industry is slowly changing to include more women, especially in the wine industry, she advised women not to focus on gender, but on your skills, your ability, your passion and giving over 100 percent in whatever you do will always bring success.

Her peers describe her saying it is a ‘joy to listen to her story’, so we eagerly await the story inspired by passion and mentorship and transformation in this complexed and sophisticated industry, from this renowned female Master Blender and Rum Connoisseur, Joy Spence.

Karen Vick