Catherine Jackson, organiser of annual festival The Whiskey Affair, tells us why she and team are bringing the festival back to Pompey for a third year.
We return to the city for our third year at Portsmouth Guildhall in July. The festival has been touring the south since our inaugural event in London back in 2015, increasing every year and gaining new fans as it travels.
Portsmouth is a special location to us as we have so many local connections as a festival. Our singer, Becki Short, is based in Portsmouth and runs a myriad of local workshops/theatre groups. She teaches many customers in the area who, in turn, have become familiar faces at the festival, creating a lovely friendly atmosphere with continual greetings ringing out around the rooms.
Our team is mostly based in the Hampshire and Surrey area. We all met and became friends because of the local music scene. So many friend outings have taken place in Portsmouth to the various fantastic music venues in the city – The Wedgewood Rooms is a personal favourite. Our familiarity with the area means that we often time site visits around social visits and spend as long as we can in the city around the festival.
The Whiskey Affair was created because, as a group of friends, we wanted to find out more about scotch and whiskey but just didn’t know where to go to do so. Pooling ideas, we created an event ourselves and the rest is history.
We try to make the events as much fun as possible, with a broad appeal to new enthusiasts (we’ve been there, we understand!), as well as catering for evangelists who want to come and sample something special and unique.
Our free masterclasses help educate those who want to get involved in a particular facet of the world of whiskey, and we have over 90 brands to sample throughout the event. With distilleries represented by brand ambassadors at the event, it’s possible to spend your time chatting to someone who knows more than you’ll ever forget about their product whilst trying some free samples of their delicious nectar.
Finding new brands, engaging with new people and curating the best selection we can – whilst keeping everything fresh for those friends we’ve made who travel to several of our events every year – is what keeps us on the ball with the event, and the feedback and interaction we get from everyone is paramount to presenting the best experience that we can do.
There’s something absolutely fantastic about pulling up to the event ready to start a long day when the venue is as spectacular as Portsmouth Guildhall. We have a mixologist who has curated his own special cocktail menu for The Whiskey Affair (perfect for those who are not entirely sure about whiskey, but be warned – these are moreish!). At the end of the night we all celebrate with a cocktail before we start the long pack-down, and there have been occasions where we’ve sat as a group on the steps overlooking the Square saying how lucky we are to be able to enjoy our work days quite as much.
We can’t wait to be back to do it all again in July, and we’d love to meet some new faces – so come and join our travelling whiskey circus, as we affectionately call it!
The Whiskey Affair comes to Portsmouth on Saturday 27th July 2019 at Portsmouth Guildhall, in two sessions: 1pm – 5pm and 7pm – 11pm. You can find full details of the sessions over at Eventbrite and you can buy tickets there or from the Guildhall website and box office.
All images courtesy of The Whiskey Affair.