The Fife Whisky Festival is nearly here and as part of our pre-festival preparation we have put together this feature blog for all of you whisky enthusiasts (and those who are simply curious). We managed to track down festival organisers Justine Hazelhurst (left) and Karen Somerville (right) to ask them some questions ahead of the event, which is fast becoming one of the most important food and drink socials on Fife's extensive events calendar. Both of these incredible women have colourful careers in the whisky industry and decided to join forces to bring some much needed attention to the Kingdom of Fife's growing distilling scene. Justine, also known as Kask Whisky, is a curator of specialised whisky tours and events in both the Edinburgh and Fife areas and Karen is the Managing Director of Angels' Share Glass. Here's what they had to say when we asked them some questions!
In the context of International Women's Day and after the huge success of last year's Fife Whisky Festival, what does organising this year's event mean to you?
Karen: Whisky festivals aren't the easiest to organise and with both of us running other businesses, it has been challenging. However, as women, we're highly organised and can multi-task well!
Justine: We thought it might be a little easier second time around, however, we have each had our own personal challenges this time which has, in turn, brought a whole new set of challenges to organising a whisky festival. We wouldn't have it any other way though! I've always thought that there's a disparity between men and women attending whisky festivals (although that is definitely decreasing) so, hopefully, if women see other women organising one, it might encourage them to go along.
Can you provide an interesting important fact you have learned about Fife's whisky history since curating this festival?
Karen: I hadn't realised just how significant Fife, as a whisky region, is and has been from bottling to casking.
Justine: Fife has a wonderful whisky heritage which can sometimes be overlooked in favour of reporting on the many recent new releases. Every time I pass the Haig building in Markinch whilst on the train it reminds me that we should celebrate the whisky present as who knows what's around the corner.
For those people out there who are thinking of finally delving into the wonderful world of whisky, what advice would you give on where and how they can get started?
Karen: Try lots! There is no right or wrong way to enjoy whisky. Go to a tasting or an event and ask lots of questions.
Justine: Head to a whisky festival ( and not necessarily ours) where you can chat to all the exhibitors about their whisky. Ask lots of questions! Join a whisky group or start your own with friends so you can explore a lot more whisky without the huge outlay; whisky, after all, is always better shared! Visit distilleries if you live nearby but, if not, read whisky blogs and books; there are plenty to choose from!
So folks . . . there you have it! Make sure you check out the amazing line up of producers and whisky friends at this year's festival; conveniently, we have provided a huge clickable button below that will take you right to the ticket page. Really hope to see you there!
Lynzy & Vivienne
The Coaltown Daisies
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