There is only one week left to enter this year’s The Balvenie Master of Craft Awards.
The awards celebrate artisan craftmakers from around the UK, from cheesemakers to woodworkers and everything in between. The idea of the awards comes from the fact The Balvenie is based around the craft of whisky making: from malting its own barley, to milling it and storing casks on site at the warehouses of its Speyside distillery, The Balvenie prides itself on craftsmanship.
Last year’s winner of the Young Master of Craft, Ruth Emily Davey, told me the awards were a huge boost to her artisan business.
“It’s difficult to get yourself out there so it’s really special to see people celebrating local crafts,” she told me.
The 25-year old shoemaker, based in Aberystwyth, spent five years training with master shoemaker Alan James Raddon before trying to branch out on her own. She says the awards made the big difference to her career success.
“Before I only had a few boxes of tools and now I have a whole workshop. It’s given me access to a whole network and the confidence that it can be possible to make it on your own. That confidence is really important for small craftspeople trying to survive,” she said.
This year, Ruth will sit on a panel to judge entrants along with TV presenter Kevin McCloud, chairman of the Heritage Crafts Association, Robin Wood, craft photographer Nick Hand and Anne Cuthbertson, editor of The Sunday Telegraph Life. Master distiller David Stewart will lead the judging.
Ruth said she’ll be looking for passion and individuality within the entrants.
By winning, she has also found herself becoming more curious about whisky.
“To see inside the history of whisky making was great. It’s a craft in itself,” she said.
For more details on the awards, to enter or nominate a craftsperson you know, visit: www.thebalveniemastersofcraft.com. Entries will be accepted until 1 June.