PODCAST: S1E6 – Christmas Special

What sort of independent home-recorded podcast series would The Is My Dram be if it didn’t adopt the antiquated conventions of broadcast television and release a Christmas Special?

A slightly different theme this time, loosely based around a the twin concepts of a Secret Santa and a blind taste test, albeit with considerably less drinking and brushes with summary dismissal than the average office Christmas party. In the event, Stu wrapped up with Douglas Laing’s Big Peat and Andy opted to put a festive bird on the table with Naked Grouse. Blind taste testing on tape to be released, in theory, to the entire internet user-base was a daunting prospect. You can listen to the guys stumbling blindly in the dark here:

Andy, faced with an enticing dram of Douglas Laing’s Big Peat, initially veered wildly off in the wrong direction before righting his course into the realms of respectability. The limited edition cask-strength vatted malt contains a drop or more from every functioning and one ex-functioning distillery on Islay.

Stu settled into the provenance of Naked Grouse with relative ease, picking out some of the velvety Speyside notes and Christmas spices from the sherry-cask hue and raising a chuckle at the featherless grouse embossed on the bottle. Plucking impressive!

For the playlist, an attempt was made to spin some Christmas crackers that have sneaked in under the airwaves and avoided the high-street chain store public address system for the months of October, November and relentlessly into December. Offerings from the jazz, funk and indie stables were brought forth from our dram-happy wise men, with inclusions from The Eels, Louis Armstrong, Phoenix and more. The podcast also closed with one of Stu’s own compositions, Hey, What’s That Sound (It’s Christmas), featuring Andy on guitar and Stu on vocals, drums and time-signatures.

Find the playlist embedded below – or find the playlist on Spotify by searching for our username: Thisismydram.

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PODCAST: S1E5 – A Pair of Nikkas

Other than providing the hilarious (hmmm…) opportunity to give our podcast a silly name, our interest in Nikka whisky stretched much further than childish puns (honest!). Stu had spent the Autumn months getting into Japanese whisky, and was trying to get his head around the enigma that is Nikka from the Barrel. A blend, £30 a bottle, readily available (unlike some of the more popular Japanese whiskies), and yet despite all this, an incredibly complex and downright gorgeous dram. Is this the best value reasonably priced whisky you can find? How does it stack up against some of the single malt whiskies we’d sampled on the other podcasts? How does it stack up against another Nikka blends? Have a listen to the podcast to find out!

It’s fair to say Andy & Stu were fairly blown away by Nikka from the Barrel, and they compare it to Nikka Pure Malt Black on the podcast, as well as creating a playlist of Japanese artists and songs that have a link to Japan. This, of course, gave them an excuse to ramble on about the fantastic ‘Lost in Translation’, as well as indulge in a bit of Bill Murray love… what a guy! Please find the playlist here:

Also on the podcast, we find out about the first celebrity follower of the @Thisismydram twitter account, and we accept a challenge from the Bourbon Gents (@Bourbongents). You can get any of our podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, Acast or Soundcloud, just search for This is my Dram.

BLOG: A taste for the inexpensive

– ramblings of Andy

One thing strikes me as we review our podcast episodes so far for this blog, is that we have to a large extent stuck to reasonably well-received and accordingly mid-priced whiskys. Other than the – as far as we can tell – absurdly good value-for-money Nikka From The Barrel, our choices have been £40-60 a bottle or thereabouts and, as a result, nothing much to dislike about them on our beginner-intermediate palettes.

Just this evening, I poured out a dram, taken from a little taster set I received at Christmas of brand-name blends, of Teacher’s Highland Cream. The nose, a little slow to wake up with a little smokiness and sweetness coming through. A malty mouthfeel accompanies my first sip, followed by a hint of peat smoke and liquorice. What’s going on here? This is £15 a bottle and I’m…chewing on a grainy, ash-tray of a finish and my question is well answered.

Still, Jim Murray awards this a more than respectable score of 90/100 in his eponymous Whisky Bible and I was almost with him until the last. Stu has been compiling our own scores for an upcoming ‘Dramier League’ feature, where to take the football metaphor to its obvious conclusion, Teacher’s seems to have blown a promising start to the season and found itself in a relegation battle by the Spring.

After tasting Nikka From The Barrel (Episode 5) for the first time on our podcast, I became a little obsessed with finding a similarly impressive, inexpensive dram from a scotch blend. The Naked Grouse (Episode 6) offered some pleasing Speysidey spice for a similar price-tag but didn’t quite make the grade. Teacher’s took me down an interesting road only to plough us both into a manure truck at the end.  The search continues!

PODCAST: S1E4 – Teeling Single Malt

Episode four returned to regular presenter team Andy & Stu as they turned their attention to whisky with an ‘e’, sampling a celebrated single malt from Dublin’s own banks of the Liffey – Teeling Single Malt. Teeling Distillery is a relative newcomer to the Irish market, having been established in 2015 as the first new whiskey distillery in Dublin in 125 years.

Teeling Single Malt won Best Irish Single Malt (no age statement) at the World Whisky Awards 2016. The bottling is vatted from whiskey finished in a variety of casks (Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon), resulting in a dram that is rich and fruity but perhaps a little hard to pin down. It will be interesting to see what expressions Teeling produce as the distillery ages alongside its unique whiskey.

The playlist threw out music from as many different angles as the cask finishes making up the dram. Stu picked out fine examples of Irish indie, punk and electronica alongside Andy’s nods to blues, art-rock and Shane Magowan completed a mix satisfyingly paired to the Teeling Single Malt.

Find the playlist embedded below – or find the playlist on Spotify by searching for our username: Thisismydram.

PODCAST: S1E3- Laphroaig Triple Wood

In episode three of the podcast Andy & Stu were joined by friend and bandmate Andrew Gardiner to enjoy a dram of Laphroaig Triple Wood and offer up suggestions for a playlist of notable trios…Geddit?

Laphroaig was a brand familiar to all three as Honeymoon tipple, poker-game epiphany and suspiciously avoided poison respectively. Stu had picked up a bottle of this expression after tasting the whisky at Newcastle Whisky Festival in March 2016 and was eager to present it for a “sober” appraisal. It was generally agreed the whisky delivered a satisfying oaky finish on top of the trademark Laphroaig peat smoke. A highlight was when guest Andrew discovered the cask strength ABV% and protested that the risk of hospitalisation would probably diminish the ability for further analysis.

Of course, get three bandmates and music geeks into a room, give them a strong drink and the focus will soon turn to a heavy discussion on music. The playlist featured an array of solid, fiery tracks to rival the mouth-coating dram and more than a few commentary errors that had to be fixed in post-production. The podcast also features an exclusive and in-full track from one of guest Andrew’s bands, FutureLoss.

Find the playlist embedded below – or find the playlist on Spotify by searching for our username: Thisismydram.

PODCAST: S1E2- Flóki young malt

The second episode of the podcast saw Andy & Stu embrace the dramatic landscapes and violent volcanos of Iceland, by trying a dram of Iceland’s only (we think!) malt whisky, and listening to some Icelandic music (though thankfully more of the contemporary stuff than the traditional music!).

Flóki is distlled in a fairly new distillery just south of the capital, Reykjavik, and appealed to us at This Is My Dram as one half of us (Stu) has been to Iceland on a number of occassions, and it’s fair to say he’s somewhat obsessed with the country! From the sparsely populated countryside, to the wide range of eclectic music it produces including Björk, Sigur Rós, mugison, and 15 strong all girl hip hop group Reykjavíkurdætur.

Flóki turned out to be a fascinating whisky to try, so different from what we were used to in Scottish whisky, and it’s young age was notable in the nose and taste. We were blown away by the strong, spice and Icelandic herb flavours, which gave it a very distinct taste. This rawness was powerful, but left the feeling that this whisky could certainly do with a few more years to be refined. We are keen to try the distillery’s first single malt which is due very soon, to see how the flavours have evolved. We’re keen to see what happens next so we can check back in on a later podcast.

The playlist took on an eerie synergy with the whisky, as our choices evolved whilst drinking the powerful and spicy Flóki, so that the more spiky and noisy song choices reflected our reaction to the dram itself. Find the playlist embedded below – or find the playlist on Spotify by searching for our username: Thisismydram.

PODCAST: S1E1 – Caol Ila 12

All the way back in July 2016, the weather was warm and we were all blissfully unaware that Trump was anything more than a bit of short term entertainment in the presidential race. Andy and I sat down and recorded our first ever podcast, choosing a dram of Coal Ila 12 year, and linking it to a playlist themed around Islands, given the location of the Caol Ila distillery on the famously peaty Islay.

Positioned on the North East of Islay, Caol Ila keeps up with the Island’s tradition of producing peaty whiskies, and the output of the distillery has often been used as part of one of the most famous blends – Johnnie Walker. The name is Gaelic for “Sound of Islay” which is fitting given the musical roots of our podcast, and as we listened to songs from Iceland (Olafur Arnolds), Japan (DJ Krush), Cuba (Chano Pozo) and New Zealand (Die Die Die) provided a suitably ecletic musical backdrop to this smokey whisky.

The nose gave rise to some interesting notes, with Andy’s senses keen to remind him of smokey bacon crisps!

Listen to the podcast below through the various podcast apps and channels available, or listen to the embedded soundcloud link provided.

Don’t forget to listen to our Island songs playlist to accompany a dram of the Caol Ila. All of our playlists can be found on Spotify: