The First Female Master Blender in the Birthplace of Rum

In a time of changing traditions and new norms, it's no surprise that glass ceilings are being broken and destroying stereotypes. This no longer a man's world and Ms Trudiann Branker epitomizes this truth. To understand the significance of her unknowingly amazing role in securing endless possibilities for women all over the world, we must take a short look at the history of her industry. Master blenders are individuals who create signature blended spirits by combining various spirits with different characteristics. This is a very crucial role in the process of manufacturing spirits and ensuring the quality and consistency of products are maintained. Although “Master Blender” is a term mostly associated with Whiskey, Blenders of other spirits including Rum make use of this title. A master blender is traditionally Male, and even though not uncommon for a female to hold this position in various distilleries around the world. For the last few hundred years Mount Gay Rum distilleries in Barbados, like many others have had a long line of men filling these shoes.

The legacy of distilling Rum dates back to 1703 originating right here in Barbados and is an integral part of our culture. This legacy has now been entrusted to the capable hands of Trudiann Branker; this very impressive and passionately driven young woman has earned a seat at the table through hard work and dedication. Years of study and hands-on experience has made her a notable figure within her field. These attributes have come to light through several interviews from world-famous magazines, which is something noteworthy in itself. 

According to an interview published by Forbes magazine, Trudiann Branker took up the mantle of the 25-year veteran Master Blender Allen Smith. He served as a great teacher and mentor to her for about five years, preparing her for her current role at the distillery. The journey at Mount Gay began for Trudiann in 2014 working in quality assurance and she diligently worked her way up

A big part of preserving the rich tradition of blending rum is the very hands-on approach which exemplifies the love, care and passion put into each blend. Trudiann prides herself in the intimate processes of crafting perfect blends consistent with 300 years worth of tradition while putting a modern and personal twist into the mix.

With a background in chemistry and a great appreciation for the science behind the blends as her initial interest, along with the expert guidance of Mr Smith gave her exposure to the process of what goes into each barrel or blend. 

Trudiann also expressed her delight in being able to use taste and smell to breathe blends as one of the things most enjoyable and satisfying about her job. When asked, she admitted that her love for rum is indeed an influence on her work and as a proud Barbadian, with deep respect and appreciation for the Mount Gay is transferred into the enthusiasm she put into her work. She has attributed the aspects of her success to her background knowledge in chemistry, which enables her to isolate conditioners that are essential in achieving optimal distillation.

Out of all the things she adores about her unique job, interacting with the rum in its various stages is dear to her heart. The feeling of walking through the storehouses, seeing the barrels, the mixture of aromas wafting through the air, sampling barrels and evaluating their characteristics are most enjoyable. 

A Master Blender is more than just following a recipe, it takes time, patience and discernment to know when a barrel is ready to be used. The process of new blends takes years sometimes and serious dedication, various experiments are undertaken daily trying out different distillation techniques, investigating ageing in various types of wood and analyzing profiles. 

Being responsible for every single bottle that is released into circulation by ensuring they meet specific standards, ensuring the blends are perfect as well as bringing new innovations to hundreds of years of tradition are her main tasks. Her vision for Mount Gay is for it to continue being a world-renowned Rum and become even more legendary. She also wants to incorporate novel techniques in the process of rum-making while holding true to tradition. Trudiann Branker is truly exceptional and is a great role model for women everywhere, aspiring for great things and achieving what once seemed to be unthinkable.