I just had to share this press release from Gruppo Campari, as we here at TheFloatingRumShack have so much love, on so many levels for Joy Spence. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting her a number of times over the years and hope that there will be many more as the ambassador role that she fulfills really is inspiring. To help put her passion into context, I thought I’d share a brief story that arose from the last time I met her.
March 2016, I’m on a WIRSPA sponsored tour of pretty much all of the rum-producing facilities in Jamaica. The tour opens with a visit to the Appleton Estate and we travel up to one end of the Nassau valley, up a hill to a spot that offers an amazing view of the valley – it’s the perfect photo spot. We spend a little while there and it’s at this point Joy enquires why Pauline (the other half of TFRS) isn’t on the trip – I say she’s pregnant and zika virus is a risk etc. Joy immediately is overjoyed and gives me a massive hug – we chat – it’s cool. She’s so normal, so interested in people and so full of love. Soon after we are walking back to the coach and Joy spots a young child (I’m guessing must be under 10 years old), she enquires if the chap at the rum shack nearby is the father (which he is) and then proceeds to give him a seriously stern talking to about ‘why is the child out of school?’ and the need to ensure the child gets a good education, and that the chap has to take the kids future very seriously. I’m not sure I’d have liked to have been on the wrong end of a tongue lashing from Joy (and he did look sheepish) – but once again the motive is clear – she cares and wants the best for everyone, but effort is needed – don’t sit back and wait for it to arrive. Not long after she’s leading the masterclass on rum making in full technical mode and displaying that amazing sense of smell. She is – without a doubt - one of my hero’s.
Just in case you wondered what the view actually was like!
Incidentally, I very much hope to meet Eddie Russell one day as seems like a cool chap to know.
Press Release: Two Titans of the Spirits World Mark Major Milestones, As Appleton Estate® Jamaica Rum Master Blender and Wild Turkey® Master Distiller Celebrate 35 Years in The Industry
In today’s fast-paced world it might be hard to imagine spending five or even ten years at one job. Gruppo Campari is celebrating two loyal employees and spirits industry legends who have been on the job for three and a half decades each. Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum Master Blender Joy Spence and Wild Turkey Master Distiller Eddie Russell were recognized yesterday at the Gruppo Campari Annual Convention for both having served the spirits industry for 35 years.
In commemorating Joy and Eddie’s contribution to the industry, with both careers spanning back to the 1980s, Gruppo Campari’s Chief Executive Officer, Bob Kunze-Concewitz, said: “Gruppo Campari is honoured to have two legends of the spirits industry in charge of crafting and ensuring the exceptional quality and taste of our Appleton Estate and Wild Turkey brands. The entire Campari family joins with rum, bourbon, and spirits enthusiasts around the world in congratulating Joy and Eddie on this significant milestone in their careers.”
Joy has the distinction of being the first female Master Blender in the Spirits industry, and she will also celebrate her 20th Anniversary as Master Blender in 2017. Among Joy’s many award-winning creations for Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum are Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum (the oldest barrel-aged rum in the world), Appleton Estate Reserve Blend, Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old, and the Appleton Estate 250th Anniversary Blend, which was her first creation as Master Blender. In addition, Joy is currently preparing a limited edition blend of rums aged at least 25 years which will be released in concert with her 20th anniversary as Master Blender.
Joy was awarded the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Officer by the Government of Jamaica for her service to the industry. Joy also possesses an honorary Doctorate of Science degree from the University of Loughborough and an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from the University of the West Indies.
Appointed Master Distiller at Wild Turkey in 2015, Eddie Russell is the 3rd generation Russell to work at Wild Turkey and he is also a Bourbon Hall of Famer. With bourbon and rye more popular than ever, he is in the most prolific period of his career, creating some of the finest premium whiskies on the market, including Master’s Keep 17 Year Old, Wild Turkey Forgiven and Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary. This year, Wild Turkey will release Eddie’s second limited-edition bourbon as Master Distiller. Named Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades, this limited edition commemorates Eddie’s 35th year at the distillery. Additionally, Eddie’s son Bruce recently joined the family business, serving as a brand ambassador for Russell’s Reserve, making the Russell clan one of the only multi-generational whiskey-making families in the business.
Both Joy and Eddie enjoy travelling the world spreading the word about rum and bourbon respectively, and they will kick off their 35th Anniversary Celebrations with a dinner for spirits writers and enthusiasts that they will jointly host in London on May 24th.