Conversation with Justine Hazlehurst, founder of Kask Whisky
"And – if freedom an whisky gang thegither –
How do you like your freedom? Swallowed neat?
Distillations of history, language, weather
In an usqueba o barley, burn water, peat."
- Liz Lochead
We sat down with Justine Hazlehurst, the audacious woman behind Kask Whisky, to find out more about her event 'Women and Whisky' at the Audacious Women Festival 2017. Taking place on the 24th February, 'Women and Whisky' features tastings of six delicious drams, chosen by four female guest speakers from the world of whisky.
Tell us a bit more about your event - how did you get the idea?
The Whisky and Women event is, essentially, a whisky tasting. However, the drams for this tasting will have been chosen, by four guest speakers, to highlight the important and influential role that women have had, and continue to have, in the whisky industry. Our guest speakers (all women who hold prominent positions in the world of whisky) are Rachel Barrie (Master Blender at Beam Suntory), Ginny Boswell (Regional Sales Manager for Wemyss Malts and Darnley's View Gin), Alex Cameron (Brand Ambassador for Eden Mill Brewery and Distillery) and Karen Somerville (Co-founder of Angels' Share Glass and winner of Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce's Entrepreneur of the Year 2015).
Marketing departments of the whisky industry have been looking at different ways to encourage more women to drink whisky, endeavouring to move away from the myth that whisky is “an old man’s drink”. One strategy has been to focus on the women who ‘play’ a role in the whisky industry. The problem is that whenever I see or hear the word ‘play’, it annoys me! I figured it would be a good idea to shift the focus on to the words ‘work’, ‘create’ and ‘succeed’.
How did you get involved in the world of whisky?
About three years ago, I came to the conclusion that, after 15 years of teaching in secondary schools, I needed a change of direction. Therefore, as whisky was something I was (and still am) very enthusiastic and passionate about, I started to organise and host whisky tastings in and around Edinburgh under the name Kask Whisky. A few years down the line, it’s all going well, with a new project in the pipeline and I can say wholeheartedly that I much prefer this to teaching!
Asides from your own event, what are you looking forward to in the 2017 Audacious Women festival?
There are so many great events organised; it would be wrong to highlight just one or two. What I’m looking forward to the most, however, is the opportunity for women (and men!) to celebrate, rather than play down, their audacious acts.
What does being audacious mean to you?
Being daring, bold and courageous!
Tell us about something you did recently which was audacious for you.
Just over three months ago, I gave up an 18 year career in teaching to embark on setting up my own business. After the security of having a regular income for so long, it wasn’t just a financial risk but, also, a lifestyle overhaul. Thankfully, it appears to be paying off – I smile much more these days!
Tickets for 'Women and Whisky' have now unfortunately completely sold out, but you can keep an eye on Kask Whisky's latest events here. Check out the rest of the Audacious Women Festival programme here. Cheers!