Jamaica Gleaner / If the rate at which the accolades are pouring in is anything to go by, then Jamaica’s Joy Spence is truly mellowing like finely aged wine.

The master blender at J. Wray & Nephew (JWN) Limited has just received another worldly serving for her trendsetting work in the wines and spirits business, being accorded as one of the most innovative women in food and drink by the internationally acclaimed magazine, Food & Wine .

Spence, the first female master blender in the global wines and spirits industry, was highlighted among 20 of the world’s finest by the Time Inc monthly publication, in its latest issue.

Since joining JWN as chief chemist in 1981, Spence was recently honoured by the company with a limited-edition 25-year-old rum titled Joy, in recognition of her 20 years as master blender and over 35 years at the company.



As far as ‘limited’ offerings are concerned, the rum sold off in record time.

In 2005, Spence was accorded national honours, the Order of Distinction, Officer rank, and only recently an upgrade was announced, and at the National Honours and Awards ceremony that takes place on October 16, at King’s House, she will be bestowed the recognition at Commander class.

Heaping praise on the JWN queen of rum-blending, Food & Wine noted: “As high-end rums finally garner the sort of recognition and desirability long attached to rare single-malt scotches and ultra-anejo tequilas, there’s no one who deserves more credit than Joy Spence.”

It added: “Master blender at the 268-year-old Appleton Estate in Jamaica, she was also the first woman to hold that title at any spirits company. And she’s a rum evangelist.”

Responding to that title, Spence told Food & Wine : “I love to introduce people to rum and watch as they become fascinated.”

A former head girl at Holy Childhood High School, Spence earned First Class honours in Chemistry at the University of the West Indies, and received the highest score in the subject at the University of Loughborough, London.

Only weeks ago, as a further tribute to Spence, JWN issued two tertiary-level scholarships to STEM students at its annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony.

Enlisting her desire for increased gender-related opportunities and participation in her field, Spence told Food & Wine : “I wish universities and the spirits industry would do more to encourage women to go into the field. There are no gender barriers in the world of blending.”


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