A DAY IN THE LIFE ..
A day in the life.. Justine Hazlehurst.
When I first started this series my intention was to explore every aspect of the whisky industry from the everyday faces like tour guides to the master blenders, shop keepers to independent bottlers and any one in between.. The first series was very much dominated by the master blenders, Distillery managers and people within the distilleries so I decided to try and get a few people from outside these walls as they are just as important in the promotion of whisky as the people that make the spirit..
When I looked round at who would be perfect for the next series Justine was a perfect example for the direction I wanted to go in.. Not only is Justine a fellow blogger but she has very bravely started her own business in order to further her passion for the liquid gold.. So without further rambling on I will pass you over to Justine to give you an insight into her life..
Justine Hazlehurst ( Kaskwhisky )
Just over a year ago, I left an eighteen year career in teaching. After nearly two decades of having the timings of each and every day dictated by bells and (despite what those teacher recruitment adverts say) more or less doing the same thing day in day out, I can honestly say that there hasn’t been one, typical day since setting out on my own. Working for yourself has definite advantages but, and I’m sure some of you can relate to this, there is often a fine line between self-employed and unemployed when you start out. So I still do the occasional spot of supply teaching in order to pay the mortgage and bills and buy food. Contrary to popular belief, a person can not live on whisky alone…
Kask Whisky has been running for around three years now, initially as a side line to my ‘proper’ job. I regularly organise whisky tastings and events in Edinburgh and occasionally in Fife. So a large part of that is coming up with themes for tastings, looking at possible venues, tasting the whisky (I like to call this CPD!) and posting on social media (which could be a full time job in itself). Earlier this year, I was involved in the Audacious Women festival and the Whisky and Women event I organised, with Karen Somerville, Ginny Boswell, Alex Cameron and Rachel Barrie as speakers, proved to be one of the highlights of my year.
They are truly inspirational people and I’m in the process of scheduling another event for next year. A hard act to follow, I’ll admit!
Recently, I’ve started to organise tailor made tours for whisky enthusiasts visiting Edinburgh. Last month, I took a group of six Icelandic blokes to Glengoyne and Deanston and I can’t remember laughing that much during the course of a day’s work. Confucius was right.
As well as bespoke tours, I have spent the last year trying to get the Fife Whisky Trail tours off the ground. Licensing regulations have proved to be my greatest obstacle here; some of them seem unique to Fife! However, I seem to have made some headway and am currently building the website so that I can schedule tours in the future. With any luck, they’ll be up and running by April next year; just a year later than I had hoped for 😉
My other project at the moment is, of course, the Fife Whisky Festival which will take place in March next year.
Most people will think that’s ages away but the planning started a good few months ago. Working together with Karen Somerville from Angels’ Share Glass we’re aiming to bring a whisky festival to Fife for, what we believe will be, the first time. My work here involves liaising with exhibitors regarding registration and masterclasses. At this point, I’d like to congratulate Shilton from Paul John for being the person to return the form the quickest; I’m sure we can arrange a prize dram or two! There are many less exciting things that have to be done in the background but, at this stage, the most exciting part is promoting the event. Whether posting on social media, writing blogs for the site or out on foot pinning up posters and dropping off flyers, this is a lot of work but great fun.
As well as writing blog posts for either the Kask Whisky or Fife Whisky Festival sites, I write the occasional piece for the recently revamped Malt, run by the talented duo of Mark Newton and Jason Julier. Whether I focus on tasting notes or write up a recent distillery visit, one thing is for sure: whenever I read their articles, I realise that I have so much more to learn about whisky. It’s a great site and one I’m proud to be involved with albeit in a small way.
Free time is minimal. So that whisky doesn’t just become ‘work’, I run a whisky group in Edinburgh. This is perfect to meet up with some great people in a pub, have a laugh and enjoy a few drams without having to analyse them. The drams, that is, not the people! I also like to run (a marathon every spring; a half every autumn) but a knackered ankle (a longitudinal tear in the peroneus brevis to be exact) has prevented that over the last year or so. So whilst the physio takes effect, I go to the gym (rarely), swim (even more rarely), gain weight, and read; just to do something non-whisky related. Although I inevitably end upreading about whisky.
My life over the last year has changed hugely but there are no complaints from me. On the drive home from the Spirit of Speyside last year, whilst on the A9 the only radio station I could pick up was Radio Scotland. An interview with Lenny Henry was being broadcast and, whilst not a fan before, I certainly was afterwards. Not knowing most of what he has achieved (I only considered him to be a comedian and not one that I found that funny), he talked about his blues band, going to university later in life and becoming a Shakespearean actor amongst other things. When asked why, he responded that if you want to change your life, you have to work hard. And so spending the last few years of my teaching career desperately unhappy in my work, that’s what I aim to do.
I am sure you will all agree Justine is a great addition to this series and her work within the industry is just as important as those who produce our beloved drink..
Without people like Justine who promote the industry so tirelessly we would be less knowledgable about this wonderful product..
The tastings she holds are second to none as I am sure you can see from the pictures above…
Be sure to check out one of the tastings or tours if your lucky enough to be in the area..
I would like to thank Justine for her time in producing this feature and wish her all the luck in her ventures.. Slainte.