PODCAST: S3E1 – Cù Bòcan 2005 Vintage

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, Andy and Stu review 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)

To find out what Andy and Stu have to say in full about Cù Bòcan 2005 Vintage, have a listen to the podcast:

Also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Acast.

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The beast is loose!
Andy and Stu 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, Andy and Stu will continue to select a few other songs to go on Spotify, for the extra eager music fans.  For this playlist, Andy and Stu selected some suitably spooky tracks featuring ghosts, monsters, hounds and other assorted creatures. You can listen here:

 

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.

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A prize selection
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.

PODCAST: S2E6 – Oban Distiller’s Edition

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 Andy and Stu 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 Finowine 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.

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Spin the bottle?

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!”

To find out what Andy and Stu have to say in full about Oban Distiller’s Edition, Lagavulin & Coke and much more, have a listen to the podcast:

Also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Acast.

For the playlist Andy and Stu 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.  You can listen to the playlist here:

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.

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Caol Ila fudge by iheartwhisky

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.

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: S2E4 – That Boutique-y Whisky Company Blend #1 35 Year

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.  Andy and Stu have obtained quite a few Boutique-y expressions to try in recent months but for this podcast, they zeroed in on Blended Whisky #1 35 Year.

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Andy and Stu both agreed this whisky had perhaps the finest nose they had ever encountered, an intriguing and complex palette and an agreeable finish, like dinner guests who realise on their own when it’s time retrieve their coats and call a cab.  To find out what they thought of the whisky in full – and how pretentiously they put those thoughts into words – have a listen to the podcast:

 

Also available on Stitcher and Acast.

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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 WorthingtonEvents & 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). See the wonderful artworks above, and listen to the playlist here:

 

Also on the podcast, a brand new Jingle Wars and the scores on the doors for the Boutique-y Blend on The Dramier League Table. Vote for your favourite jingle in JINGLE WARS here:

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!

PODCAST: S2E3 – Benromach 100 Proof

So it’s taken the This Is My Dram team 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. IMG_9199.JPGHey, they’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, Andy and Stu couldn’t resist a nice indie label…

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The cask strength whisky is 57% ABV (100 Proof in old money) and impressed Andy and Stu with its rich, sweet nose, spiced fruit palette and oaky, smoky finish. A drop of water revealed another layer of complexity. To find out what they thought of Benromach 100 Proof in full, have a listen to the podcast:

For the playlist, the team gave themselves 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, Andy and Stu were essentially free to select some of their 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. Listen to the playlist here:

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 Andy and Stu realised they hadn’t reviewed a whisky they hadn’t rated so far and this was skewing the table towards a narrow field of high achievers.

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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…

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: S2E1 – Lagavulin 16

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. Andy & Stu 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. To find out what they concluded, have a listen to the podcast itself:

 

So what about a musical accompaniment to this peat train? The lads 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! Here 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!

Here are the two jingles which you can also hear on the podcast:

Don’t forget to vote for your fave! Thanks blog readers and podcast listeners – you’re proper mint, man!

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.

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.

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.