Billy Leighton and Dave McCabe

Dave McCabe to succeed Billy Leighton as Irish Distillers master blender

23 November, 2023

Irish Distillers, the Irish whiskey subsidiary of Pernod Ricard, has announced the appointment of Dave McCabe as master blender.

McCabe succeeds Billy Leighton who will step into a master blender emeritus role, following a 47-year career at Irish Distillers starting as a trainee accountant before working various roles across the company, and finally being appointed as master blender in 2004.

“At Irish Distillers, we understand how important our people are to our success and over the past almost five decades working in the business, Billy Leighton has played an instrumental role in the success of all our brands, and the renaissance of the Irish whiskey category globally,” said Nodjame Fouad, chairman and chief executive at Irish Distillers.

Talking about the transition, Leighton said: “I have spent most of my working life at Irish Distillers, and I am truly grateful for the opportunities my job and this business has afforded me. While I will be stepping down from the master blender role, I will not be stepping away from the business and I look forward to embracing my master blender emeritus role, working with brand teams on special launches.

“I would like to take this time to wish a much-respected colleague and friend, Dave McCabe, the very best as he takes the master blender baton and I look forward to continuing to work with him. I’ve seen first-hand his passion, expertise and knowledge that will ensure he is a fantastic master blender. Our whiskeys are in great hands.”

McCabe joined the business in 2010, working in several educational and advocacy roles before being appointed as blender in 2018, he has spent several years working closely with Leighton.

“I feel both excited and privileged to be appointed master blender in Irish Distillers, following in the footsteps of a true master,” said McCabe.

“I would like to thank Billy for all that he has contributed to my professional development, he has been an exceptional colleague, mentor, and friend. I truly learned from the best. I am incredibly honoured to take up this role and I am excited for the future ensuring the quality and reputation of Irish Distillers’ portfolio.”

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