PODCAST: S3E2 – Mackmyra 10 Year

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, Andy and Stu review the hot-off-the-shelves Mackmyra 10 Year and create a playlist of songs relating to the pop heaven that is Sweden. To find out what Andy and Stu have to say in full about Mackmyra 10 Year, have a listen to the podcast:

Also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Acast.
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The camera has been drinking, not me.

Andy and Stu were also 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. You can listen here:

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.

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Yellow food colouring not pictured (just kidding, seriously!)

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. 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.

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PODCAST: S2E5 – Paul John Peated Select Cask

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.

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Paul John Peated Select Cask

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.

Andy and Stu 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 This Is My Dram for a virtual tasting and general whisky chat over FaceTime for this podcast.  To find out what they have to say about Paul John and how the Peated Select Cask tasting went down, have a listen to the podcast:

Also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Acast.
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This Is My Dram (top left) shooting the breeze with Sorren and Craig via FaceTime

We were also delighted to have some input into this episode from Shilton AlmeidaUK 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 Andy and Stu 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. You can listen to the playlist here (don’t forget to check out Shilton’s YouTube picks as well at the end of this blog):

Also on the podcast, the finale of Jingle Wars and high scores for Paul John Peated Select Cask on The Dramier League Table. We also consigned a new offender to the Relegation Zone with some unflattering comparisons to soggy breakfast cereal…

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. 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.

PODCAST: S2E2 – Bulleit Bourbon/Wild Turkey Rare Breed

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 Andy and Stu continue to this day with This Is My Dram – The Whisky and Music 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. Now listen here…

Andy and Stu 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.

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Photo: One of the lost episodes of This Is My Dram, perhaps…

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, Andy and Stu 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.

Andy and Stu also launched a brand new feature, the Dramier League Table which ranks all the whiskies tasted so far for nose, palate and finish. Let us know what you think of it on Twitter and Instagram and don’t forget to cast your vote on the choice of jingles for the Dramier League Table Jingle Wars too…

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.