Personal Journals Episodes

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Episode 70 - Oliver Wyss, President of Soccer at Orange County Soccer Club

In a special crossover episode we combine United States of Dramerica and America the Beautiful Game. We talk to whisky lover and soccer expert Oliver Wyss. The former Swiss international youth player, coach, agent and soccer tech is now the President of Soccer at Orange County Soccer Club in the United Soccer League. We talk about the controversial new European Super League, his love of wine and then whisky and the state of soccer in the United States. Oliver tells us about working on Playing for Keeps with Gerard Butler, being sold expensive whisky at Glasgow airport and how much he enjoys work Orange County's partner club Glasgow Rangers. He talks about the transformation of US soccer, its continued shortcomings but also how they might win a World Cup in 2030. And why he wants to share a Bruichladdich Black Art with Michael Jordan.

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Episode 69 - Luke Crosby, martial artist and great-grandson of Bing

We talk to stuntman, fight co-ordinator, martial arts specialist and member of the famous Crosby family, Luke. He talks about his great-grandfather Bing, the extraordinary career of his mother Spice Williams-Crosby and his fascination with martial arts - not surprising given his father Gregory trained with Bruce Lee. We talk growing up in a celebrity family, the community of black belts and why he chose stunts over acting. And Luke tells us about family film night, earning his SAG card playing a ninja and why he wants to share a Japanese whisky with Bruce Lee.

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Episode 68 - Dave Vitale, founder of Starward whisky

We go Down Under this week to talk to Dave Vitale, the founder of Australian whisky sensation Starward. He talks about his company's market positioning, why Starward is perfect for cocktails and as a 'dinner table whisky'. He explains how the pandemic has been tough for a growing brand, why he wanted to start distilling and the growing market in Australia. He talks about the pleasing lack of whisky prejudice against newer markets and why people should embrace new expressions and how Starward are growing in the US. And Dave explains what cuisine pairs best with his whisky, how Two-Fold and tonic is the new gin and tonic and where he expects to see Starward in the next five years.

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Episode 65 - Will Leaf, pro golfer

We share a whiskey with aspiring golfer Will Leaf, who after a tough pandemic year, is selling shares in himself to fund his pro career. Will, who has had three holes in one (including two on par 4s), explains how his PGA Tour Canada aspirations were ended by the border closure, how the share scheme works and how it feels to be a commodity people can buy. He tells us his passion for the game, meeting his hero Arnold Palmer and tells us about the weird world of lower level tour golf - including players turning up for tournaments in their pajamas. Will says he's excited for the grind of tour golf, the terrible hotels, the driving through the night - and how that is a big step down from college 'luxury' travel. He talks about the importance of grit not just talent, backs himself to follow in the footsteps of Zack Johnson and Kevin Kisner (who also sold shares in themselves) and tells us why he wants to share a Woodford Reserve with Tiger Woods at Augusta National.

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Episode 64 - Chris Newlands, founder of Spelfie, the space selfie company

We talk to Scottish entrepreneur Chris Newlands, founder of space selfie company Spelfie. The navy veteran explains the genesis of his company, why he thinks people will want to take space selfies at live events and how clouds are Spelfie's enemy. He talks through the challenges of launching a start up in a global pandemic, the ways his company has adapted and his plans for expansion. Chris talks about his partnership with Airbus, selling space visible advertising and why he wants to share a Macallan with Barack Obama on the beach in Barbados.

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Episode 63 - Gary Gillan, President of North American Rangers Supporters Association

We talk to Gary Gillan, the president of NARSA - the North American Rangers Supporters Association. He talks about his beloved club Rangers, how being further afield brings you closer to the club and the origins of NARSA. He talks about the sense of community that these fan groups create, how tough it has been during Covid and he feels closer to the club in Canada even though he used to have a season ticket. Gary tells us about the excitement around Rangers' season, what it will mean to win the league again after a ten year gap and reminds us all that Rangers are the most successful domestic team in global soccer. He explains the rivalry with Celtic, where Rangers would fit in the English game and the importance of European competition. And why he wants to share a whisky with the Beatles.

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Episode 62 - Ricky Crawford, luxury travel expert and Dram Good Laddie

We talk to veteran whisky and luxury travel expert Ricky Crawford. He tells us about the growing importance of sustainable travel, how it's going to become more important post-pandemic and the genesis of his Amazon Prime show Leave No Trace. We talk about green luxury travel in Scotland, the purity of distilleries and his time as a roving whisky ambassador - including a disappointing trip to the Playboy Mansion. Ricky tells us about his new virtual Scottish corporate tour company - where he is one of the three Dram Good Laddies, what he misses about drinking whisky with friends and his love for the Maldives. And he tells us why he wants to drink a Glenlivet with George Clooney.

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Episode 61 - Dom Madell, New Zealand resident

We talk to Dom Madell, resident of Auckland, New Zealand. He explains what it is like living in a relatively covid-free country, survivor's guilt and the Kiwi view of the rest of the world. He talks about masks on trains - and nowhere else - in his country, the reality of being on an 'island of purity' and the inequity of billionaires of using his country as a safety bolthole. Dom explains his worries about New Zealand for when they re-open borders, he drinks a local Thomson whisky and we share stories of our childhood and our first (terrible) attempts at drinking illegally in pubs. He also talks about his new band, set up during the pandemic, and how Frayed Flag are happily playing gigs in busy pubs.

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Episode 60 - Tracie Franklin, whisky educator and Head Distiller Apprentice

We talk to Tracie Franklin, Head Distiller Apprentice at the Nearest and Jack Advancement Initiative. She tells her story of moving from Broadway to whisky ambassador to the leadership acceleration program run by Jack Daniels and Uncle Nearest whiskey to increase diversity in the whiskey business. Tracie talks about diversity in the industry, her reluctant acceptance of being a role model and tells us the inspiring story of Nearest Green, a freed slave who taught Jack Daniels. We share a virtual Uncle Nearest 1820, talk about the modern dual role of a head distiller as brand ambassador and what she misses about showbusiness. And she tells us why she would want to drink a Glenfiddich 50 with her father.

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Episode 59 - Jon Ryan, Super Bowl winner

We talk to Jon Ryan, the Super Bowl winning punter from the Seattle Seahawks. He tells us about the feeling of being part of a Super Bowl and the euphoria of victory. He also tells us about the feeling of being part of a Super Bowl the following year and the agony of a narrow defeat to Tom Brady. Jon talks us through his Championship game touchdown, the first play-off touchdown ever thrown by a punter. We talk about punters tackling, some of Jon's highlight reel - mostly painful-looking hits - and the under-rated value of the CFL, and why playing in his home country was so important to him. There is also time to cover soccer - including his love for Swansea City and Jordan Morris' transfer there - and his new career as an owner of rugby and baseball teams. We also cover retirement, Brady, Gronk and whisky. And Jon tells us why he wants to drink bourbon with Jackie Robinson in a minor league dugout. A fantastic discussion with one of the game's popular figures.

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Episode 58 - David Balfour, co-founder of LIGHTBLUE and marketing and event expert

We talk to event and marketing expert David Balfour. The Scot living in Dubai with plans to expand in to the US talks events, how the pandemic has changed the industry, what is possible now and what direction he thinks events will go in the future. He tells us how the uneven pace of recovery is creating opportunities, the huge appetite to return to live experiences and how Usher nearly ruined one of his first events in the US. David tells us about his favorite whisky, his sneaker collection and the appeal of life in Los Angeles. And why he wants to share a Wolfcraig whisky with Sir Alex Freguson.

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Episode 57 - Estelle McCartney, Chief Customer Officer Arctic Shores and communications professional

We talk to Estelle McCartney, Chief Customer Officer for Arctic Shores and veteran communications professional. She tells us about how the interface between business and Government has changed, the importance of ‘doing good’ and her first role with Britain in Europe. She talks about her work with Arctic Shores, using technology in recruitment to improve diversity and getting people into the right jobs for the long term. She also talks about watching her father compete in the Whisky Olympics, we debate how to pronounce Glenmorangie and she tells the story of pioneer Gertrude Bell.

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Episode 56 - Grant Pierce Myers, writer of The Maze Runner

We talk to screenwriter Grant Pierce Myers. He talks about the excitement of working on The Maze Runner, his parents organizing a special screening for their friends in his home town and his favorite line from the movie. He tells us how he celebrates movie projects by buying bottles of whisky, his love for the cherry-infused bourbon made by Traverse City Whiskey Company and he tells the story of being fired from the Maze Runner - and how the lead actor didn't even realize he was the writer. Grant tells us how he would pitch a movie about Trump, how the pandemic ruined one of his latest projects and whether his new projects will have masks and social distancing written in to them. He talks about script envy, the Maze Runner being sued for stealing someone else's idea and how he feels about the Maze Runner sequels making less money than the first. And he tells us why he wants to drink any whisky with Ernest Hemingway on a boat - and his favorite cocktail stories.

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Episode 55 - Kayla Drescher, magician

We talk to magician Kayla Drescher. She tells us about swapping science for magic, her dislike of Las Vegas and why the market town of Dunstable is her favorite place. She talks about her Magic in Heels business, the challenges for women in magic and her favorite trick. We share a (virtual) whiskey as she tells us about a magician's life in Los Angeles compared to Boston, how much she enjoys corporate events and travel and why she wants to share a Jefferson's with Celine Dion.

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Episode 54 - David Mackay, Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot

We talk to David Mackay, the Chief Pilot for Virgin Galactic. He tells us his journey from a young boy in northern Scotland watching the moon landing on television to his own flight into space. David, who has more than 15k flying hours, talks about testing aircraft for the British Royal Air Force, his transition to commercial airliners for Virgin Atlantic and then his move to flying spacecraft for Virgin Galactic. He describes the simple joy of his first ever flight, the beautiful vistas he has captured from the cockpit of planes around the world and the thrill of flying into space and the unique experience and view. David talks through what a Virgin Galactic astronaut will experience, the types of passengers who have signed up for space travel and why he enjoys a post-flight Clynelish. And he tells us why he wants to share a whisky with Neil Armstrong.