“As long as we keep spreading the word and sharing our love of whisky, then I believe more and more women will think about a career in whisky.” – Mary Hemsworth
Mary Hemsworth is the Festival Manager for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, where she has been responsible for putting together more than 300 events happening from the 2-8 May all around Speyside. Here she speaks about her introduction to whisky, her excitement about the festival and what she will be doing once it’s all concluded!
What first attracted you to working with the festival?
The marriage of great whiskies with beautiful countryside and wonderful people – Speyside has it all in abundance and is one of my favourite places.
What made you want to work in the world of whisky?
The passion! Whisky people are fun, know their stuff and want to share – I’m also fascinated by how the smallest changes in location, water source and time can make such a big difference to the final malt.
What whisky really inspires you every time you drink it?
I’m a bit of a Glenlivet girl; I like soft, fruity malts. I know it’s a cliché but on a cold winter’s night (and we get a few in Speyside) nothing beats the 18 yo for me. If I’m with friends and the craik (good conversation) is going well then the Macallan is one I like. The Balvenie DoubleWood is also one of my favourites and one that I drink when I’m in ‘quiet’ mode.
What are you most looking forward to achieving with the festival?
I cannot wait to welcome everyone to Speyside and see them having a great time. If everyone goes home, having had a wonderful experience, and tells all their friends then that will be quite something. In the longer term I’d like the world to discover the passion, and the people, behind the festival and for it to become a ‘not to be missed’ event on the whisky world calendar.
How does it feel to be a part of such a strong team of females leading such a massive whisky festival?
It’s inspiring! To be part of a team with so much knowledge is amazing. It is a big festival both in the number of events (over 300) and the variety of locations but we don’t let size worry us too much. I enjoy the camaraderie within the team and everyone is driven by the same goal – it’s all about delivery in the end.
Do you feel more women should or could be involved in the whisky industry?
I’ve been amazed by the number of women who are working in the industry at every level. There are some young female Whisky Ambassadors in Speyside flying the flag and that’s wonderful. So many women from all over the world have written to me enquiring about the festival and how they can get involved. As long as we keep spreading the word and sharing our love of whisky, then I believe more and more women will think about a career in whisky.
What will you do after the festival is finished?
I’m going to Italy to lie in the sun, drink wine, listen to my iPod and maybe take a few photographs. My phone will be off whilst I’m there and as soon as I get back we will start planning 2013.
Ah, sounds great! And finally, what is your favourite memory of whisky drinking?
Sitting on a beach in South Africa, on my birthday, with some very good friends, a full moon, a barbeque and a bottle of malt – can’t remember which one now but it was a never to be forgotten evening.