What does your job entail? My job entails a whole host of things and means constant schedule juggling and time management. I source all of the copy for my website on an original basis, meaning no press release reprints.
From reviews to features on people in the industry and distilleries, to larger analysis articles and interviews with the leading women in whisky, each of the three to four posts per week – and the social media integration that goes alongside – takes up a good chunk of my time. Outside of that, I probably spend two days a week in meetings and am constantly trying to find new people to pair up with for interesting events.
Then there are all the ‘boring’ aspects, like keeping my accounts and expenses up to date, filing and chasing invoices and balancing my budgets!
What’s the best bit? I’m fortunate that I get to meet an huge array of fascinating people who are extremely passionate about what they do, and often in beautiful surroundings, such as at distilleries in Scotland, which is becoming a favourite place for me to visit. The fact they share their stories with me and let me into their world gives me a lot of joy. I also am lucky enough to try some stunning whiskies in incredible scenarios, which is a wonderful thing as I’m entirely in love with this spirit.
And the worst? It can be quite tiring, but to be fair, that’s almost always my own fault as I’m a ‘go, go, go’ kind of person. Being self-employed means always being ready to take that phone call or answer an email, even when I should be taking a vacation or having a day off! I’m not good at taking days off!
How did you get your job? I created it, as it were. I am a journalist by background and I started in that field as a columnist for my local newspaper in Canada when I was 16, before heading to Toronto to get my degree in broadcast journalism and work for daily newspapers. I’ve been in the UK since 2007 and after my first four years working here in financial journalism, realised I needed a change and wanted to go freelance. I was keen to do something surrounding a subject I was entirely passionate about, and that happened to be whisky – a field where, at that time, there were few female voices being added to the mix.
I had originally planned to pitch ideas to newspapers and magazines from the start but after attending a blogging course I realised that this was the route to go down and I started my website, Miss Whisky, after much research in 2011. It’s gone from there really and I didn’t realise how much of a risk/leap it would be until I look back on things now with three years of hindsight.
What qualifications/experience do you need? For this role, as it combines writing, public speaking (for event-hosting) and whisky tasting, you need an ability to communicate well and a passion for the spirit. I did not take specific qualifications when it came to the whisky aspect, but built my knowledge up in my own time over a space of six years – the more I learned, the more I wanted to know, so it has been entirely self-taught that way, with (now) lots of input from industry leaders who have helped me on my journey.
I think it helped that I have long loved food and cooking, because that has aided me to better and more quickly pinpoint scents and flavours in whiskies that I review and judge.
What advice would you give someone who would like a job such as yours? Be prepared to work hard, be self-disciplined, always be ready to network and expect to go the extra mile for clients. Oh, and to take a massive pay cut if you’ve been used to a monthly salary!
The best part of my role is in meeting those new people both in the industry and who want to learn about whisky, and that doesn’t come from sitting behind the computer screen, despite the fact that the majority of my persona is hosted there through my site, on Twitter and Facebook. You have to be comfortable in a range of scenarios where you’ll likely find yourself meeting new people and speaking publicly – I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy running classes and standing in front of a room speaking to people until I started doing this, but now I absolutely love the buzz.
There’s very little time for sick days, weekends or ‘me time’ so you also have to be prepared to make sacrifices while also being kind enough to yourself to find a balance. I cook, go for walks in parks, do yoga and read – and make sure I have at least two to three nights a week where I don’t drink any alcohol to ensure I am staying healthy. Oh, and – unless I’m traveling – I aim to get eight hours of sleep a night, which many people would consider a luxury.
Miss Whisky is supporting the World Duty Free Whisky Festival. With an amazing range of whiskies, offers and in-store experiences the Whisky Festival runs until June 25 across 21 UK airports. Worlddutyfree.com