Glasgow Whisky Festival
Julie Hamilton answers our questions about the whisky festival in Scotland’s largest city
We’re very proud to start our interview series with Julie Hamilton, founding member of Glasgow’s whisky club and director at Glasgow whisky festival together with Mark Connelly and Paul McDonagh. The festival stands now as a landmark in the whisky event world: may these words be a true inspiration for anyone embarking on his whisky journey right now!
Glasgow Whisky Festival has just ended its 10th edition. How did everything start?
Glasgow’s Whisky Festival started as the brainchild of 2 members of Glasgow’s Whisky Club – Mark Connelly and Bill Mackintosh as a fellow club member – I was initially on board to assist with the event running on the day – that was my role for the first few years and then I became involved as the third director of the company in 2012. The basis was to bring a festival for the people of Glasgow run by people of Glasgow! We didn’t have one at that time!
Ten years ago we didn’t have access to the number of events we have now – RMW Whisky Fringe and Whisky An’ A’ That in Ayr were the 2 we all ended as guests.
We started with a relatively small crowd in just part of The Arches venue in Glasgow City Centre with about 28-30 stands.
While this is our tenth anniversary this year – November 2019 will actually be our eleventh event. In 2015 we were approached by Events Scotland and asked if we could run a second
We really like your mission statement “Bringing Scotland’s national drink to Scotland’s national stadium”. How did you come up with the idea of such a venue?
Our beloved Arches venue was closed in June 2015 due to licensing issues with the nightclub that was hosted there. This closure was just around the time we were putting our tickets on sale for November 2015, so we had to move quickly to find a new venue. In my other job at the time I was involved in events
Hampden Stadium offers us many things – mainly massive flexibility with the event space – we lost the atmospheric
Tell us something about your foodbank initiative.
Folks coming along to the festival are encouraged to bring a donation for the
The response is always absolutely overwhelming – for the past two
Scotland is experiencing a
whisky tourism boom these days (and we’re part of that…). What do you think about it?
I think it’s great and long may it continue! I hope that it continues like this for a really long time! Scotland is a fabulous country to visit with many things to offer – the
I hope that we continue with plans to protect our identity as a country as well as in the
Whisky festivals are emerging everywhere. Any advice for the newcomers?
Whisky festivals are indeed emerging everywhere and as long as you don’t view it as a ‘get rich quick’ scheme you’ll be fine! I think that’s the mistake that certain people have made in the past – it’s not easy money – it’s hard work!!
You have to invest time, energy and passion into running a good drinks festival – I think this shows at your event – attention to detail is key.
Be respectful of other events – don’t run a whisky show on the same day as someone else, choose a different venue – be a bit more original, you don’t need to be direct competition – there’s enough room for everyone. Just think – if we all run events at the same time, who would we get to exhibit! There are only so many people in the industry and only so many people in each area to attend!
Making sure your guests have a range of choice in stands, that they know what’s available on the day i.e. if there is more than one room give them a floorplan, give them plenty of water to stay hydrated and having decent food available is all they need!
Developing your own identity comes in time – you want it to be the best, so that’s not an overnight achievement! Genuinely look after your staff – a happy team provide a happy environment for
I work at lots of other people’s festivals and events and the difference between them all is amazing! When you are standing talking about whisky for hours at a time – a cup of coffee doesn’t go amiss!
Think about what you would want – then apply those ideas!
What is Whiskydo? See HOW IT WORKS!
Take a look at Glasgow Whisky Festival official website