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Billy Leighton Steps Aside at Irish Distillers

After a 47-year career at Irish Distillers, longtime Master Blender Billy Leighton is stepping into a newly-created role of Master Blender Emeritus. He’ll be replaced as Master Blender by his assistant, Dave McCabe, but will continue to work on special projects for the company.

Leighton started out as a trainee accountant at Bushmills when Irish Distillers owned that distillery before moving into production. He worked across a variety of roles before being named Master Blender at Midleton Distillery in 2004. Over the years, he helped lead the revival of Redbreast Irish Whiskey and played a critical role in developing new whiskies for Jameson, Powers, and other Irish Distillers brands.

In a statement announcing the changes, 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. Dave and I have worked closely together for years and really enjoy our collaborations.  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 Irish Distillers in 2010 and held several roles, including tutoring at Midleton’s Irish Whiskey Academy, before being named Blender in 2018.

Image courtesy Irish Distillers.