This episode marks the satisfying conclusion to a sacred quest, for the holy grail (or indeed, unicorn) that is an affordable bottle of Hibiki 17. Stu tracked a bottle down for a very reasonable price (excluding the cost of flights, board and accommodation) in a recent holiday in Japan, just in time for the first breaths of 2018 so we could look back on a year of fantastic music and enjoy a dram of the rare stuff.
It's all pretty well explained in the podcast. Tell you what, while you wait for it to download here are some lovely new words that made it into the dictionary (OED, naturally) in 2017:
1. Buggerlug (n.) - An affectionate term for a child, particularly when it isn't listening to the adult.
2. Spooge (n. formal) - Any sealant or lubricant applied during the assembly of electronic equipment.
3. Throat Sing (v.) - To perform throat singing.
4. Ginkgolide (n.) - Any of a group of bitter compounds present in the leaves and roots of the ginkgo tree.
5. Zyzzyva (n.) - A genus of tropical weevils native to South America.
6. Belyando spew (n. informal) - Any illness marked by bouts of vomiting.
Anyway, to music! The six, yes six, tracks that feature on the podcast, in full, are:
Stu’s 1st selection: Rolling Blackouts Coast Fever - French Press
Andy’s 1st selection: Public Service Broadcasting - They Gave Me A Lamp
Stu’s 2nd selection: Melanie De Biasio - Afro Blue
Andy’s 2nd selection: Richard Dawson - Soldier
Stu’s 3rd selection: Colin Stetson - Like wolves on the fold
Andy’s 3rd selection: Hurray For The Riff Raff - Living In The City
For the playlist, we gave runner-up nods to King Krule, Phoenix, Arca, Four Tet, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and Les Amazone d'Afrique (Dombolo)...Have a listen to the full playlist here:
Don't forget to follow us on twitter, subscribe to the podcast on your trusty podable devices and even leave a satisfying 5-star review, which helps us get new listeners and frees the Princess from the haunted castle.
Choosing the right Christmas present can be hard. You have to weigh up your recipient's passions and ambitions with your price budget and choice of tax-dodging delivery services. Choosing a Christmas present for someone you've presented almost 25 podcast episodes about whisky, it turns out, is somewhat easier. This year, knowing our respective love for sherried Speysiders and their inherent "liquid Christmas cake" nature, both wrapped a delicious Glenfarclas expression for our festive blind tasting charade.
Stu was up first with an accidental litre of Glenfarclas 105, a cask-strength heavy hitter, which sent Andy to the right vicinity quite quickly in the taste test but required a couple of minor hints to narrow it down to the correct dram. It's a firm favourite at This Is My Dram HQ and is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of any whisky drinker. Andy took a punt on a bottle of Glenfarclas 1996 Premium Edition (bottled 2017), which is a bottling generally prepared for the German market as the label on the back of the bottle confirmed (Spricht irgendwer Deutsch?). It was a lighter dram than the 105, with pleasing hints of aniseed and menthol, that reminded us of aspects of the 15, 17 and 25 year expressions available in the core range. Stu picked out all the right notes in the blind test but couldn't reasonably be expected to guess the bottling. It turns out 'distillery beginning with G' is one of the least useful clues in a whisky guessing game. Glen-everything!
The tracks that feature on the podcast, in full, are:
Andy’s 1st selection: The Futureheads - Christmas Was Better In The 80s
Stu’s 1st selection: Phoenix - Alone On Christmas Day
Andy’s 2nd selection: Soul Saints Orchestra - Santa's Got A Bag Of Soul
Stu’s 2nd selection: Gaz Coombes and Adam Buxton - I Believe In Father Christmas
For the playlist, we covered all the bases with 20s jazz, 70s soul, poetic folk, indie rock, Christmas film soundtracks and of course, Sufjan Stevens...Have a listen to the full playlist here:
Don't forget to follow us on twitter, subscribe to the podcast on your trusty podable devices and even leave a satisfying 5-star review, which helps us get new listeners and helps Santa juggle the burden of delivering all the presents and keeping Rudolph off the heroin for another year.
Luckily at This Is My Dram, we have one presenter who is enthusiastic and sociable enough to actually go abroad on holiday and a much anticipated trip to Japan presented an obvious opportunity for resident Japanese whisky nut, Stu, to visit a couple of whisky distilleries. In this episode we enjoy two expressions from the Yamazaki distillery, the 12 year and the rare and expensive 18 year (courtesy of our friends at The Bourbon Gents) along with some excellent Japanese music.
Yamazaki is the oldest distillery in Japan and proudly displays Barrel no.1 - the genesis of Japanese whisky - on the distillery tour. Although the company, founded by Shinjiro Torii, has been producing whisky since the 1920s, the Yamazaki label did not appear until 1984 and has been one of the most sought after Japanese whiskies in recent years.
Check out some of Stu's fantastic photos from his visit to Yamazaki Distillery:
Our playlist theme for this episode was Japanese music - obvious and enticing - and despite having featured as a playlist theme way back in series 1, we still had a treasure trove of splendid tracks to choose from. Stu selected an indie classic reimagining the robotic battles of a real Japanese drum legend and some fullwidth font ambient electro from 2 8 1 4. Andy opted for an anime space cowboy's funk-jazz theme tune and a song so shoegaze you'll have shoelaces burned onto your retina.
The tracks that feature on the podcast, in full, are:
Stu’s 1st selection: The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
Andy’s 1st selection: Yoko Kanno & Seatbelts - Tank!
Stu’s 2nd selection: 2 8 1 4 - 修復 (Repair)
Andy’s 2nd selection: Boris - Farewell
For the playlist, we mined the anime and computer game genre a little further, sampled a little underground trip hop and finally found a spiritual home for Dave Brubeck...Have a listen to the full playlist here:
Don't forget to follow us on twitter, subscribe to the podcast on your trusty podable devices and even leave a satisfying 5-star review, which helps us get new listeners and keeps the hell gate closed for another epoch.
Something a little different for this episode with a format where the This Is My Dram boys don't actually say very much for once. Well you can stop subscribing in unprecedented numbers because we'll very much be back talking your ears off the side of your head in the next episode. You'll just have to enjoy this brief moment of respite.
We were led into battle on this occasion by Sorren Krebs a.k.a @ocdwhisky who is a fountain of whisky knowledge and long-time Friend of the Pod. We were treated to an exclusive tasting of a special dram - Glen Moray 1994 Sherry Cask Finish - which Sorren had collected both in honour of the year of his daughter's birth and because it is quite frankly a superb bottle of whisky. You can read Sorren's in depth review of the full 1994 range from Glen Moray on his fantastic blog.
We were joined by Ed Milner a.k.a. @MrEdwardMilner and his mate Tom. We don't know much about Tom but we can speculate. I reckon he's a venture capitalist with a keen eye for an investment opportunity and was in attendance to scope out a couple of distilleries ripe for a hostile takeover. I might be wrong.
We made sure to retain an element of our modus operandi (that's Geordie for a dubious reputation) by including a couple of song choices from the very obvious year of 1994, which we soon found to be a golden year for fantastic music and not just fantastic whisky. Don't forget to follow us on twitter, get in touch with feedback and suggestions and send us locks of your hair in the post.
A rare public outing for This Is My Dram on this episode, as we attend the Whisky Lounge's York Whisky Festival 2017 at York Racecourse. Although we considered a general sweep review of the whiskies on offer, we felt one particular "under the counter" dram at That Boutique-y Whisky Company's stand warranted closer inspection.
Mortlach whisky is a niche brand to begin with and is renowned for its deep, meaty flavours. I wish the same could be said about the pulled pork sandwiches on offer at the racecourse but that's another story. The whisky itself was a revelation amongst a day of many highly impressive drams and we really can't recommend Whisky Lounge events enough for whisky beginners and enthusiasts alike. Also featuring on this podcast is Friend of the Pod and fudge-maker extraordinaire Sarah @iheartwhisky talking about whisky, fudge and how to rave properly.
Our playlist theme for this episode was Halloween music to both coincide with the eventual episode release date (everything is meticulously planned like this, of course) and to honour the Beast of Dufftown which appears on the Mortlach 22 illustrated lable. Andy selected some spooky soul and tenuously linked New Orleans R&B while Stu opted for a pop classic and a spellbound vocal take.
The tracks that feature on the podcast, in full, are:
Andy’s 1st selection: Otis Redding - Trick or Treat
Stu’s 1st selection: Michael Jackson - Thriller
Andy’s 2nd selection: Fats Domino - I Hear You Knocking
Stu’s 2nd selection: Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put A Spell On You
For the playlist, we maniacally hacked our way through a couple of horror movie themes (and their time signatures) alongside witches, monsters and er...Harry Belafonte....Have a listen to the full podcast here:
Don't forget to follow us on twitter, subscribe to the podcast on your trusty podable devices and even leave a tasty 5-star review, which helps us get new listeners and gives us the power to occasionally summon the Spirit of Jazz. Skiddly bop.
Be sure to listen to Part 2 of our York Whisky Festival Specials for an exclusive tasting review.
If you've ever wondered why those clawingly gracious stars of stage and screen simper through wringing hands about how they "owe it all to their fans" at the awards podium, perhaps the premise for this episode will go some way to explaining that phenomenon. After the last episode we found our whisky shelves - and indeed whisky budgets - creaking to breaking point and with a heavy schedule of personal and professional demands on our time, we were flush out of good ideas for a review theme. Charging over the hill, like a Knight in Shining Armour holding a Glencairn glass and pair of headphones aloft, was one of our fabulous listeners with a plum idea for a podcast theme.
An electronic mail all the way from Australia, no less.
G'Day Stu and Andy,
As a suggestion for future episodes, I would like to hear your thoughts on the Bruichladdich Classic Laddie. The playlist for The Classic Laddie as it is an unpeated Islay (unexpected by most) should be songs that are a different genre from a bands usual.
Can we get an update on how Australia are tracking on the listener leader board? (I am doing my best to increase those figures).
Our relief was palpable and before we could even type a heartfelt thanks a bottle of The Classic Laddie was ordered and winging its way to our state of the art podcasting and tasting facility. One thing led to another and next thing we've got Bruichladdich's fantastic Carl Reavey (Head of Communications) on the phone telling us about the distillery's unique philosophy and how he used to mix sound for The Undertones.
Our playlist theme for this episode was at Daniel's suggestion, songs by bands in a genre unusual to their regular stylings. Stu selected some acapella Geordie indie and Indian folk gatecrashed by Radiohead's lead guitarist while Andy nominated Kurt Cobain's fevered incursion on the MTV unplugged studio and an album of children's songs from members of The Walkmen and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
The tracks that feature on the podcast, in full, are:
Andy’s 1st selection: Nirvana - Where Did You Sleep Last Night
Stu’s 1st selection: The Futureheads - Beeswing
Andy’s 2nd selection: Walter Martin (feat. Karen O) - Sing To Me
Stu’s 2nd selection: Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood and The Rajasthan Express - Allah Elohim
For the playlist, we Nils is far from keen, Sufjan is spitting rhymes, Eric's got a bad case of the upstrokes, Aphex has gone all twee and a Bono's trapped in a giant lemon. I'm considerably more proud of that sentence than I have any right to be...Have a listen to the full podcast here:
Don't forget to follow us on twitter, subscribe to the podcast on your trusty podable devices and even leave a tasty 5-star review, which helps us get new listeners and ultimately defeat the forces of evil. Why not also follow our mate Down Under @danhoper for so gallantly bailing us out for the episode theme.
You can catch Andy and Stu at the Whisky Lounge York Whisky Festival at York Racecourse on Saturday 21st October (afternoon session). This is your chance to say hi, tell us where we're going right/wrong and if you like, appear on the podcast. We will have our microphones!
"It's an absolute sherry bomb. We have to podcast it!", said Stu.
"Yeah cool.", replied Andy
Such is the level of planning and forethought that goes into producing each episode of The Is My Dram. Still, Stu was on the money with Aberlour A'bunadh Batch 57, a cask-strength corker crafted from largely sherry-cask finish, ranging from what is estimated to be between 5 and 25 year old, whiskies. Andy and Stu were in full agreement about the quality attributes of this particular batch; the nose is sweet and comforting, the palate is warm and comforting, the finish is sweet, warm and comforting. Never mind message in a bottle, this is a full-scale embrace with a thoughtful love poem and gift certificate for a spa weekend in a bottle. It's increasingly difficult to source a bottle of Batch 57 and the general consensus seems to be that current release, Batch 58, is less impressive so don't spare the horses if you want to try this one.
Our playlist theme for this episode was first singles released by bands or artists, taking our cue from Aberlour's "origin" theme with A'bunadh. Stu selected some rock-out nostalgia from his formative years to perfectly compliment the shoulder massage in a glass we were sipping on while Andy explored the origin theme with a near-tedious history lesson on the pioneers of jazz and blues. No prizes for guessing which of our presenters you'd rather be cornered by at a party...
The tracks that feature on the podcast, in full, are:
Stu’s 1st selection: Eels - Novocaine For The Soui
Andy’s 1st selection: King Oliver's Creole Band - Chimes Blues
Stu’s 2nd selection: Weezer - Undone (The Sweater Song)
Andy’s 2nd selection: Muddy Waters - Country Blues (No.1)
For the playlist, we had some more 90s throwback indie and grunge as well as infectious beats, blues organ and Feist-y vocals. Have a listen to the full podcast here:
Don't forget to follow us on twitter, subscribe to the podcast on your trusty podable devices and even leave a tasty 5-star review, which helps us get new listeners and most importantly tends to our fragile egos. Keep your eyes peeled for a special bonus pod in the next few days, delaying the sad end of another series (don't worry, it'll just be like a 3 week break or something) of This Is My Dram.
After featuring Gordon & MacPhail-owned Benromach 10 100 Proof back in Series 2, it was only matter of time until we took a punt on one of their independently-bottled, or independently-matured we should say, drops of whisky. Following a chance encounter at a tasting event in the wild outer reaches of the North-East coast with Gordon & MacPhail sales rep and Mr A-Dram-A-Day himself, Ben Bowers, we were able to set up a live guest-related plot twist for this episode. We were delighted to be joined across the dramming table by Ben, who brought with him an exclusive not-on-the-shelves Bunnahabhain Cask Strength whisky to review, produced in 2009 and as we later learn, matured until March of this year in first-fill sherry casks.
At the time of going to press, this whisky is currently sold out on Master of Malt but you may be able to source a bottle at one of the many independent whisky merchants who stock Gordon & MacPhail whiskies. Hey, why not check out our #buylocaltimd map to see if there's one near you.
Our playlist theme was, at Ben's suggestion, covers and remixes to reflect Gordon & MacPhail's philosophy of taking a spirit produced at another distillery and seeing what their maturation experts can come up with in their mad science lab of cask-finished creations. This was the sort of playlist theme that we have begun to recognise as seeming simple enough at first glance then increasingly and fiendishly difficult to choose a valid and worthy selection. We do think, however, that we pulled it out of the bag between us...
The tracks that feature on the podcast, in full, are:
Andy’s 1st selection: Hackney Colliery Band - No Diggity (a cover of the Blackstreet song)
Ben's 1st selection: Hybrid - If I Survive (VIP Mix)
Stu’s 1st selection: Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah (a cover of the Leonard Cohen song)
Andy’s 2nd selection: The Fall - Lost In Music (a cover of the Sister Sledge song)
Ben’s 2nd selection: Peter Gabriel - Mirrorball (a cover of the Elbow song)
Stu’s 2nd selection: Johnny Cash - Hurt (a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song)
For the playlist, we had a nice mix of New Orleans brass, classic rock, soulful folk...and a Soulwax remix, sitting awkwardly in the corner of the party not speaking to anyone.
We also subjected ourselves to the masochistic ritual of the Relegation Dram, this time a Japanese contender from the foothills of Mount Fuji - the infamous Fujikai. Opinions ranged from anger to fury, with Andy drifting off into apocalyptic visions normally reserved for a David Lynch movie. It did not, it's fair to say, score very highly.
Thanks very much to Ben for joining us on this episode and do visit his fundraising page to make a donation to a wonderful cause. Let us know if you can find a bottle of that Bunnahabhain anywhere...
Some whiskies are superstars. You see them on every shelf, at every tasting event and all too often, on your bank statement too. Other drams are a little more hidden, the gleeful reserve of those in the know - until of course word gets around and suddenly everybody wants a slice. Kilkerran whisky trickled out slowly as a series of Work In Progress bottlings since re-opening in 2004 - the newest, old distillery in Campbelltown as they say - before the core bottling 12 Year finally arrived in 2016 to notable whispers of approval. A year later, Kilkerran 8 Year Cask Strength was released and the secret was very much now, out. Thanks to the keen shelf-eye of Stu, we were fortunate to have both the 12 Year and the 8 Year CS to enjoy on this episode. We were also joined by David Allen, Regional Sales Manager at Springbank and Glengyle Distilleries who was able to give us the lowdown on current and future plans for the Kilkerran range.
Our playlist theme was the needlessly convoluted and militantly regulated niche of records by musicians or bands who have released music under a different name that they're less well known for. Sorry Reg, Elton can't come in. This was inspired by the fact that unusually for single malt Scotch, Kilkerran is actually produced at Campbelltown's historically famous Glengyle distillery.
The tracks that feature on the podcast, in full, are:
Stu’s 1st selection: Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) – Redbone
Andy’s 1st selection: Grinderman (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) – Palaces of Montezuma
Stu’s 2nd selection: New Order (Joy Division) – Bizarre Love Triangle
Andy’s 2nd selection: Gorillaz (Damon Albarn) – Clint Eastwood
For the playlist, Andy and Stu selected some more masked heroes and caped crusaders including Bowie as Ziggy, a different shade of Green Day, Dylan of the family Wilbury and Aphex Twin as well, Aphex Twin essentially.
We also launched our #buylocaltimd campaign to encourage listeners to seek out bottles from their local whisky dealer. Check out the interactive map and get in touch on twitter with your own suggestions. Stu pointed out that we've been producing podcasts for a whole year at the time of recording and we stumbled through an incoherent yet heartfelt thank you to all our wonderful listeners.
Thanks very much to David Allen for joining us on this episode and check out our Dramier League scores for both delicious bottlings from Kilkerran.
A big challenge facing the ever-growing and evolving whisky industry is that of overcoming those pesky stereotypes. Some stereotypes are welcomed, even celebrated, by the subject. As Stephen King once said to an interviewer enquiring if he was a drinker or not, “Of course, I just said I was a writer.” Other stereotypes are less helpful, especially for countries not traditionally associated with the production of whisky – Sweden perhaps being fairly high up that list. Swedes are known for a fondness of a drop of Akvavit (if you think that spelling bears some resemblance to aqua vitae – the “water of life” – you’d be right) or a seasonal snifter of Snaps but whisky isn’t part of that tradition – yet.
Sweden is still a land of few distilleries as far as whisky production goes but the quality of what is produced is not going unnoticed, and Mackmyra (mack-meera, people! Don’t make the same mistake we did) are leading the charge. Mackmyra will reach its 20th anniversary as a working distillery next year and produces a celebrated core range of peated and unpeated whisky, as well as several limited editions.
In this episode, we review the hot-off-the-shelves Mackmyra 10 Year and create a playlist of songs relating to the pop heaven that is Sweden. We were joined by Mackmyra Master Blender, Angela D’Orazio (@AngelasShare) who was kind enough to join us for a chat over Skype during a family holiday in Italy. Never let it be said This Is My Dram don’t know how to frankly impose themselves to an unreasonable extent on anyone who agrees to speak to them. Angela talked about her day-to-day work as a Master Blender (or Chief Nose Officer!), the thought process that went into creating Mackmyra 10 and what’s next for the Swedish producer at its fascinating visitor-focused distilleries.
The tracks that feature on the podcast, in full, are:
Andy’s 1st selection: The Knife – Heartbeats
Stu’s 1st selection: Robyn – Dancing on my Own
Angela D’Orazio’s selection: Annis Brander – Grace
Andy’s 2nd selection: Miike Snow – My Trigger
Stu’s 2nd selection: The Radio Dept. – Ewan
For the playlist, Andy and Stu selected some more glistening indie pop to sugarcoat your ears from the likes of The Cardigans, Movits! and Lykke Li.
We also cack-handedly selected and announced the winner of the first ever This Is My Dram Competition, with a fine prize of five drams from recent episodes of the podcast; Big Peat Christmas Edition 2016 , Nikka Pure Malt Black, Paul John Peated Select Cask, Nikka from the Barrel and Laphroaig Triple Wood. We hope the lucky winner enjoys their drams! Andy and Stu were thanking their own lucky stars, as the randomly selected, yet pleasingly local winner saved them a few quid on postage and packaging.
Thanks very much to Angela D’Orazio for joining us on this episode and frankly for producing a knockout whisky in the Mackmyra 10 Year.
Series 3. With the creation of this episode, This Is My Dram have surpassed timeless classics such as Fawlty Towers, The Office and Spaced – in staying power at least, if not in comedic value. Thank you to everyone who has listened, downloaded, got in touch on Twitter, swapped drams or just sipped along to the podcast. We owe each and every one you a massive round of drams!*
This episode also marks another watershed for the team. Having followed proper song licencing procedures (a brief case of cash to an imposing man with a prominent facial scar in a dark alleyway, right?) the podcast can now include FULL TRACKS.
In this episode, wereview Cù Bòcan 2005 Vintage and create a playlist of songs relating to “mythical creatures”. Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Cù Bòcan is produced at Tomatin Distillery in the Scottish Highlands and takes its name from a ghostly black dog that has haunted the village for centuries. In researching this tale, Andy may have even had an encounter with the fearsome creature. Either that or he’s discovered the sound effects bank in the editing software…
(* Figuratively speaking, of course)
We were also joined again via FaceTime by Tomatin experts and “notorious peat fans”, Sorren (OCD Whisky) and Craig (Craig Watson) to talk us through the Cù Bòcan and a few other gems from the Tomatin range. Sorren and Craig identified how the light smoke marries perfectly with the trademark Tomatin tropical sweetness in the 2005 Vintage to create a memorable dram.
Stu also secured an interview with Tom from Tom Forest who talked about his musical influences, the themes in their upcoming album and searching for new drams on trips to Scotland. He was even good enough to indulge Stu’s interviewing style as it slowly descended from Jeremy Paxman to Jeremy Clarkson to Jeremy Beadle. You can find Tom Forest on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and Spotify or even catch them live at Greenbelt Festival in August.
The tracks that feature on the podcast, in their glorious totality are:
Stu’s 1st selection: TV on the Radio – Wolf Like Me
Andy’s 1st selection: The Specials – Ghost Town
Stu’s 2nd selection: Tom Forest – Monster
Andy’s 2nd selection: The Black Dog – Sleep Deprivation
In terms of the playlist, we will continue to select a few other songs to go on Spotify, for the extra eager music fans. For this playlist, we selected some suitably spooky tracks featuring ghosts, monsters, hounds and other assorted creatures.
This episode also saw the exciting introduction of the first ever This Is My Dram Competition, where we offered listeners the chance to win a selection of five drams from previous episodes; Big Peat Christmas Edition 2016 , Nikka Pure Malt Black, Paul John Peated Select Cask, Nikka from the Barrel and Laphroaig Triple Wood. One lucky winner will be announced on the next episode of the podcast.
Thanks very much as always to Sorren and Craig and also to Tom from Tom Forest for joining us on this episode. Please do like and subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to listen, get in touch with Andy and Stu on Twitter and follow the playlists on Spotify.
We’ve all been there. Maybe you were cooking up a world-class menu in the kitchen, or applying the finishing touches to a watercolour masterpiece. Perhaps you were agonising over the paintwork design on that vintage motorbike you restored or sanding another surface layer off that handmade pinewood table. At some point we’ve all turned our hand to a craft and sooner or later, we have to ask ourselves the inevitable question – is it finished now? Will another twist here, a dab there or a sprig of that turn something good into something great?
This is principally the dilemma which we grapple with in this episode of the podcast. Firstly, with a look at the Distiller’s Edition release from Oban Distillery, one of Diageo’s Classic Malts of Scotland range treated to an extended curtain call in a Montilla Fino wine cask. The second, more personal dilemma, was whether or not to attempt the counterintuitive, some might say sacrilegious combination of Lagavulin 16 and Coca Cola, as recommended in The Whisky Manual by eminent whisky writer, Dave Broom.
First, The Oban. Diageo’s maturation expert, Jim Beveridge explained the philosophy behind the Distillers Edition range to Gavin Smith at Whisky Pages back in 2006.
“The critical thing is the flavour of the Classic Malts. We must remain true to their core character. For example, you always recognise Distillers Edition Oban as Oban. It still has the classic Oban flavour. This is the main driver behind the choice of casks we use, and each whisky has an optimum time to be in the secondary cask.
We use a full-bodied Pedro Ximinez sherry cask for Lagavulin, but there’s no way you’d want to use that for Oban, for example. It’s not about the discernible sherry but about the overall impact. We use more powerful sherries for more powerful whiskies such as Lagavulin and Talisker. It’s about matching the flavours in the sherry to the whisky. The Distillers Editions win lots of prizes, so we do seem to be getting it right!”
For the playlist we selected tracks from a range of “limited edition” records, albums where a little something extra has been added to the basic product, whether its a new mix, some gimmicky packaging or a restricted print run. The selections include songs that were re-worked to appease an angry internet, intimate live versions, songs that were also computer games and songs that were blasted into space.
Also on the podcast, an exclusive taste test of iheartwhisky‘s magnificent Caol Ila fudge. We also subjected ourselves to a challenging “blind” Relegation Zone dram sent to us with kind generosity by No Nonsense Whisky.
Thanks very much to Sarah (@iheartwhisky) for producing such excellent whisky fudge and Vin (@NNWhisky) for supplying the Relegation Zone dram. Please do like and subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to listen, get in touch with Andy and Stu on Twitter and follow the playlists on Spotify.
One of the factors of whisky production that can’t have escaped the notice of any serious drammer in recent years is the emergence of various new producers of premium-standard malt whisky from countries not traditionally associated with the craft. One such country with a high quality output of single malts right now is India, and no distillery from the sub-continent is making more of a noise than Paul John Whiskies, nestled a few miles inland from the Goan coastline on India’s own answer to Route 66.
In fact, the Paul John Peated Select Cask expression we reviewed in this episode has just won the Best Indian Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards to set alongside a host of other selections and commendations.
We were first introduced to this whisky at Newcastle Whisky Festival 2017 in March this year by brand exhibitors, Sorren Krebs and Craig Watson, who were kind enough to join us for a virtual tasting and general whisky chat over FaceTime for this podcast.
We were also delighted to have some input into this episode from Shilton Almeida, UK Regional Manager for Paul John Whiskies, who gave us some fantastic insight over email into what goes into making peated whisky in Goa.
“We are perhaps the first to use peat from two different regions of Scotland, from Islay and Aberdeen, adding several dimensions to the character of our whiskies. Of course due to the environment in India whisky matures differently. The uniform temperature through the year helps the whisky interact with wood rapidly. Every region has its own pros and cons, and in India, especially in Goa, we lose much alcohol as angel share, yet at the same time the whisky is ready for bottling after just 4 years.”
For the playlist we selected – amongst others – some Indian-inspired jazz, The Beatles (Paul John accounting for half the line-up after all), a Rajasthani brass band, Australian-Indian rock and Goan pop.
The conversation with Shilton Almeida, UK Regional Manager for Paul John Whiskies continues…
TIMD: We understand some of your casks are kept above ground, and some below ground. What difference in taste does this provide?
Shilton: In order to provide two different environments within the distillery we have two warehouses at different levels. The underground cellar is cooler and less humid compared to the one at ground level. Whiskies from the underground cellar are elegant and easy drinkable ones, whilst the whisky matured in the upper warehouse is more robust and with a mineral character.
TIMD: The Peated select cask is a NAS whisky – can you give us any idea as to how old the whisky is, and what was behind the decision to go without an age statement?
Shilton: The Peated Select Cask is a 7 YO whisky. In general, whisky consumers tend to compare whiskies, and 7 years is sometimes considered pretty low when it comes to maturation, but what consumers are unaware of is the fact that one year in India is almost equivalent to 4 years in Scotland in terms of maturation.
TIMD: Are there any new or exciting Paul John expressions planned for the near future?
Shilton: After the success of the Oloroso cask release, we plan to have more sherry releases in the future. Also, there are two new limited edition releases to hit the market later this year.
TIMD: What is your personal favourite of the Paul John whisky range of expressions?
Shilton: Being a peat freak, my personal favourite is the Bold. For me its a very well balanced peated whisky.
TIMD: As part of our podcast, we like to create playlists to go with the whiskies we review. This episode will feature a playlist of Indian music. Do you have any suggestions of Indian music for us to add to the playlist?
Shilton: Coming from Goa, I would definitely suggest some Goan folk music. Well, I enjoy this with my whiskies.
Thanks very much to Shilton, Sorren and Craig for taking the time to bring us up to speed with Paul John Whiskies and for their generous input to this podcast.
In a market that is crowded with unique characters and eye-catching bottlings, That Boutique-y Whisky Company‘s range still manages to stand out with rare and old sources and illustrated labels by artist, Emily Chappell. We have obtained quite a few Boutique-y expressions to try in recent months but for this podcast, we zeroed in on Blended Whisky #1 35 Year.
We both agreed this whisky had perhaps the finest nose we had ever encountered, an intriguing and complex palette and an agreeable finish, like dinner guests who realise at just the right time when to pick up their things and call a cab.
The podcast also features some exclusive, on location and mostly uninterrupted footage from The Whisky Lounge‘s Newcastle Whisky Festival 2017, where the team were joined by avid whisky fan and all-round good company, Sean and tried a dozen or so whiskies between them, some of which will feature in future episodes.
We were delighted to have some input into this episode from Dave Worthington, Events & Marketing Ambassador at That Boutique-y Whisky Company, who told us about his busy time at the festival.
“I hardly had a moment to spare throughout the show, I was on my own for all three sessions, so wasn’t able to have a run around the exhibitors looking for a highlight dram. I did manage to squeeze in a couple of Whisky Discoveries before and during the interval; a rather tasty Irish Whiskey from The Dublin Liberties with their 10 Year Old Copper Alley, the latest Talisker Distillers Edition, The Spey 18 Year Old, and starting the day with Springbank Local Barley 16 Year Old is the breakfast of champions.”
For the playlist, in honour of the Boutique-y bottle labels a challenge of “songs from albums with great artwork” was laid down. Another broad and wide-ranging theme delivered some of the best of punk, jazz, electronica and two guitar classics from guest Sean (Santana – Samba Pa Ti) and Boutique-y Dave (Led Zepellin – Kashmir).
Our conversation with Dave from That Boutique-y Whisky Company continues…
TIMD: Which is your favourite whisky of the ones TBWC have released?
Dave: Another difficult question! There’s a whisky for every situation and time of the day, so at any one time, my favourite will change! We’ve had some cracking releases from Ben Nevis last year, Batch 3, 4 and 5 were all diamonds in my book with Batch 5 topping this list for me. The single grain releases have been great too, Girvan, Carsebridge, Cambus, North British and of course some gorgeous Invergordons. My current favourites are the Macduff 11 Year Old and the Glentauchers 17, they were hugely popular at Newcastle too.
TIMD: And which is your favourite bottle label?
Dave: The labels are ace aren’t they? Emily Chappell does an incredible job of deciphering the often cryptic design briefs we send her! The Dailuaine label amuses me the most, good sulphur/bad sulphur molecules turned into teddy bears! Oh and just what is going on with the zombie apocalypse on the Auchroisk label?
TIMD: You mentioned at the festival that there may be some new blends on the way from TBWC… can you tell us any more?
Dave: Yes, we’ve got lots of new stuff going on back at HQ, lots of exciting new things. All of our blended whiskies are small batches, so of course there’ll be new batches required to replace the dwindling stocks of the current releases. There’ll be a few new labels to look out for too.
TIMD: Also, we’ve noticed you branching out into other countries recently (Irish, Indian, Bourbon…) Are there any plans to expand your range to include any others soon? Maybe Japanese *Stu crosses fingers*?
Dave: We’re always looking for opportunities to bottle exciting whisky, wherever it is made, and we’re working hard trying to find it! Keep those fingers well and truly crossed, and perhaps one day, your dreams will come true!
So it’s taken us until half way through the second series (that’s over 9 hours of edited audio out there already, folks) to finally get round to reviewing a single malt from Scotland’s most famous and populous distillery region – Speyside. Hey, we’re independently minded guys, just like the company behind this episode’s dram, Gordon & MacPhail. Founded in 1895 by James Gordon and John Alexander MacPhail with a shop located on South Street, Elgin the firm began to specialise in bottling single malts in the early 20th Century, and in an age when few distilleries were bottling singles, may have held the largest range in of single malt whiskies in the world in the post-war years. After almost a hundred years of bottling, the company bought Benromach Distillery in 1993 which opened in 1998. As fans of both whisky and music, we couldn’t resist a nice indie label…
The cask strength whisky is 57% ABV (100 Proof in old money) and impressed us with its rich, sweet nose, spiced fruit palette and oaky, smoky finish. A drop of water revealed another layer of complexity.
For the playlist, we gave ourselves the seemingly narrow parameters of UK independent record labels before realising, to quote Stu, “practically all the music I own was released by UK independent record labels.” As a result, we were essentially free to select some of our favourite tracks in general, adding to the thoroughly pleasant experience of drinking the Benromach. Music released on Rough Trade, Creation, Mute, XL, 4AD and Ninja Tune sprung forth from the tasting room speakers.
Also on the podcast, the exciting conclusion of the battle for Dramier League Table jingle in Jingle Wars, as well as the new feature The Relegation Zone. The idea for this feature came about when we realised we hadn’t reviewed a whisky we hadn’t rated so far and this was skewing the table towards a narrow field of high achievers.
To give a bit more context to the title contenders, the pair resolved to tackle a truly disagreeable dram and it’s fair to say their reaction provides a little more than just context…
The roots of this episode of the podcast run deep. You see, it was Andy’s Great Great Gran’pappy, a Kentucky cattle rancher and renowned inebriate, who was cooking up pot still whiskey on his ranch while at the next farm up, Stu’s Great Great Gran’pappy, himself a wild frontiersman and walking encyclopedia of folk tunes from far and wide, led the old-time hoedown string band. After a time, they’d get together on the porch in the evening sun to drink a drop or two of fine spirit and call out tunes to the band of players. It’s a tradition that we continue to this day with this very podcast...Of course, none of that is actually true but in this episode, This Is My Dram drinks Bourbon and an antebellum origins yarn must be spun.
We were challenged by the illustrious Bourbon Gents to taste some Bulleit Bourbon and they added in a bonus dram of Wild Turkey Rare Breed for good measure. The playlist theme set by the Bourbon Gents was “country music”, which was treated as something of a general guide.
It was agreed there should be no attempts at a Southern drawl during the podcast recording, no Dolly Parton and absolutely no comparative references to Scotch as “proper whisky”. To explain how hideously uninformed that would be, This Is My Dram were joined by the Bourbon Gent’s Mister Pie for an exclusive interview.
On to the bourbon, where Andy and Stu approached the freshly poured drams of Bulleit Bourbon with open minds and open nostrils and found much to like on the nose with honey, orange and oak notes. The palate too was sweet and oaky, with that orange note ever-present. Both found the finish to be a little tame and short-lived. Still, a very enjoyable – and affordable – bourbon whiskey.
The Wild Turkey Rare Breed flew out of its coop with a fantastically rich nose (or beak?) with notes of burnt toffee, mulled wine and oak smoke. The palate unleashed a thick gumbo of sugar and spice flavours that took some time to unpick while a drop of water – this latest barrel-proof release is 56.4% ABV – opened up even deeper oak notes. The finish was again short-lived but all in all a superbly balanced and intriguing glass of whiskey.
For the Spotify playlist, we brought in a range of music styles that tended to scrape the sides of the Country genre rather than going all in with a Rhinestone Cowboy costume. Several Alt-country tracks were joined by earlier blues, creole and folk songs from the likes of Vera Hall, Canray Fontenot and Steve Earle. A thread emerged linking several tracks with the Alan Lomax recordings, which are well worth checking out.
We also launched a brand new feature, the Dramier League Table which ranks all the whiskies tasted so far for nose, palate and finish.
What a way to start the second series of the podcast: being blown away by a smokey peat train as we sat down to enjoy a generous dram of Lagavulin 16. We spend the podcast delving beneath the deep layer of peatiness, to uncover the other tastes and smells that gradually reveal themselves as the peat subsides in this complex and interesting dram.
So what about a musical accompaniment to this peat train? We picked the (rather tenuous) theme of “famous Petes and Peters” for the playlist, to link to the “peat” in the whisky. This led to song titles containing Pete (Boards of Canada, Nils Frahm), artists called Pete (Peter Gabriel, Pete Seeger and Oscar Peterson … no Peter Andre though, sorry!) and bands containing Petes (The Who and the original line up of the Beatles). The latter brought about a discussion about Ringo vs Pete Best… one for the music geeks out there! Hear the playlist here:
Also on the podcast, we have the exciting conclusion of our first ever jingle wars to decide what should be the jingle for our regular “science bit” feature, as well as hearing the efforts of Andy and Stu for the jingle wars feature itself. A jingle for jingle wars in the jingle wars part of the podcast, which doesn’t have a jingle yet… yes, we’re confused too!