When I was a kid, my local community hall hosted something called “Stitch ‘n Bitch” for anyone who was keen on a bit of sewing and gossip. Each year, the group would create a big quilt to raffle off and raise funds for the community, with us kids helping to add our bit of style design when possible.
While it wasn’t monumental – things like this were hosted in many small Canadian towns and I’m sure, English ones too – the coming together of community to create something crafty was, in its small way, a chance to build community spirit and put in public the handiwork that many people would otherwise have kept behind closed doors in the home.
I have always appreciated people who are skilled at creating handmade items. My father had a workshop on our farm and created beautiful woodwork jewelry boxes, cabinets, and more; I use a chopping board in my kitchen that he made back in the early ’90s which is still going strong.
Equally, it’s hard to not admit that times are, of course, changing and have been for a while. We are seeing less and less craft-work as our consumer appetites are satiated with imported clothes, furnishings and electronics. I’m no exception of course. I happily gobble these things up as easily as the next person.
But, I am also very appreciative of well-made items that take individual skill and time due to my childhood exposure to this world. And that’s why I’m a big fan of The Balvenie Masters of Craft series. Through it, the whisky company – which prides itself on its own craftiness – honours craftspeople making everything from shoes to watches, textiles and ceramics. I wrote about last year’s awards here and you can get more information on them (and how to enter) here. The award winners will be announced by The Balvenie in October.
This year, the company is taking the lead-up to the awards one step further and hosting a massive fete in Tavistock Square Gardens from the 13-15 June. At the fete, visitors will have the chance to try the company’s whisky and also attend special talks with craftspeople each evening. These will include a discussion on the 13 June on bespoke suit making between brand partner Gieves & Hawkes and The Balvenie‘s global brand ambassador, Sam Simmons, among other events on the 14 and 15 June.
Warehouse 24 members will also be able to access daily private tastings with the legendary The Balvenie master blender David Stewart – who has worked at the distillery for more than 50 years – and the fabulous UK Brand Ambassador Dr Andrew Forrester.
I am also pleased to say that I will be hosting a special consumer tasting on the 15th at 3:30pm in which I will explore the world of whisky and discuss how it’s shedding its drafty, dusty old layers and becoming a drink of choice for a much wider demographic.
So, whether you already know the brand, or are keen to do so, I definitely recommend you come down to the fete, say hello and get a better idea of what both The Balvenie and some fantastic craftspeople are all about. The amount of skill they have is incredible and I am proud to share and support any proceedings that help individuals who are keeping craftsmanship alive. My childhood self would have wanted it this way.
For more information on the fete and ticket availability, head to: http://mastersofcraft.thebalvenie.com/craft-in-motion/