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United States of Dramerica
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United States of Dramerica

Author: Dan Rutstein

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There is nothing like a dram of whisky to inspire an important conversation. Each week we sit down with a guest from the worlds of entertainment, sport or business and they tell their story over a glass of whisky.
79 Episodes
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We talk to the passionate Michele Kajiwara, SVP Premium at the STAPLES Center.She talks about selling sports experiences in a Covid world, the impact of the social justice movement and how much she missed the thrill of live entertainment during the pandemic.Michele talks passionately about the sports experience, tells the story of being invited to a funeral of one her clients and how all the stories were of shared experiences and what it is like to be in a sports venue when something truly historic happens.She talks about Kobe Bryant, his impact on her and the night he scored 81 points.And she explains why she wants to share a Japanese whisky with Bob Marley in the Seychelles.
We talk to Shaun Robinson, manager of the Hilton Anaheim, California's third largest hotel.He tells stories from his 30+ years in the business including meeting Pele and Muhammed Ali, how we got his start as a waiter in Newport Beach and dealing with power cuts.He talks about having to furlough most of his 1200 staff due to the pandemic, how they dealt with 9/11 and the glitz and glamor of working in Beverly Hills.Shaun talks about why he left Liverpool to work in hospitality, when Stevie Wonder played in the lobby of his hotel and explains the leadership lessons he learned along the way.A fascinating behind-the-scenes take on life in the hospitality business by an entertaining and thoughtful leader.
We talk to the only Scotsman to headline on the Las Vegas Strip, Jimmy Denning.He tells us about sharing limos with Wayne Newton, how Matt Goss mixes his whisky and being sick in one of the most expensive suites in Vegas.He explains the different sides of his adopted hometown, living life there to excess but also what real life  off the Strip is like.Jimmy talks about his serious brush with Covid, when his band will return to the Strip and why he wants to share a Macallan with Garth Brooks.
We talk to Clare Risman, former British diplomat and now Executive Director of the St George’s Society of New York.We talk about the historic charity, their role supporting everyone from Titanic survivors, to creating a 9/11 Memorial Garden to the wide range of support they provide today.We discuss running a charity during a global pandemic, how donors are treated like investors and ways of giving beyond just financial.Clare talks about her time in Government, the adventures supporting the GREAT Campaign including trying to navigate a London Bus around New York, introducing Prince Harry to the Queen of Dragons and her adventures with the Red Arrows aerobatic display team.A fun and interesting discussion about modern diplomacy and charity.
We talk to entertainment lawyer Grant Arnow. He talks about his career as front man of Takota, touring Europe and some of the things he saw while touring with bands.He explains his transition to corporate lawyer then entertainment lawyer, how his background helps him understand clients and the satisfaction he gets from working in the industry.Grant talks about live streaming and how the pandemic will change the music experience, being in a band with Taylor Swift’s bassist and his nagging desire to get back on stage.We talk returning to gigs, being the king of Western-super-Mare and how social media has changed the landscape for new bands.See them here in action - https://youtu.be/4xUZ7e8ct-k
We talk to the lively Neil Strachan of Balvenie. We talk about corporate golf tournaments, the etiquette of drinking whisky and doing business in South East Asia and getting lost during a Manila whisky festival.He explains how luxury whiskys are promoted in Singapore and China, the rarest whiskys he's tasted at the world famous Auld Alliance and why Scottish people are seen as so charming.Neil tells us how friendly that part of the world was (and how quickly they drink), how different it is working in the USA and why he wants to share a Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask with a recently-deceased inspirational friend Ali McDougall on the top of a French mountain.
We talk to the effervescent Nicola Slater, former Scottish tennis professional.We talk playing at Wimbledon, pay equality for women and working with Judy Murray.She talks about the thrill and excitement of the lower level tour, the poor behavior of entitled players complaining about pre-Australia Open quarantine and when is the right time to make the transition to Pickleball.We talk about the all the Murrays - Andy, Judy and Alexander (the whisky Murray).And why she wants to have a whisky with Robert the Bruce on Stirling Bridge.
We talk to the extraordinary Paul Bae, actor, comedian, writer and podcaster.He talks about having his head blown off in the infamous movie the Interview, how the podcast he started because nobody wanted his screenplay has had more than 50 million downloads and how he performed such a horrible stand up set in LA that people wouldn't even let him sit at their table.He explains how he is transitioning from podcasting to TV writing, why he didn't show his giant dog's diarrhea on Instagram and we talk about diversity in Hollywood.And he explains why he wants to drink a Yamazaki 18 with historic Jesus in 1990s South Korea.
We talk to Markus Stripf, co-founder of nutrition data analysis firm Spoon Guru.He explains how his company helps those on food exclusion diets to more easily find products they can eat.Markus explains that two in every three people are on some form of specialist diet, how his wife's issues finding foods due to her allergies was the inspiration behind the company and the environmental reasons behind so many new vegans.We talk plant-based food, personalized diets and lab-grown meat. And we both agree that alcohol should remain in a healthy diet - and helps you live longer (sort of...)And Markus explains why he wants to drink a Jura 10 with Keith Richards in Cuba.
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 with 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.
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.
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.
We talk to British comedian and actor Matt Green. He explains how his viral pandemic comedy videos came about, we compare British and American comedic styles and he talks about 'audience deterioration' and how it is likely going to be worse after the pandemic.He talks about performing comedy over zoom, how to try and avoid offending people and using his wife's zoom calls as inspiration for some of his workplace comedy.Matt explains how he has asked for money during the pandemic despite being British, why best man speeches at comedians' weddings are always tricky and how having 'comedy' in his twitter handle has avoided people misunderstanding his work.A funny and insightful episode about British humor and how it differs from America. 
This week's guest is Martin French, managing director at Berylls Strategy Advisors.We talk the future of driving, mobility, electrification and autonomous vehicles.Martin tells us why range anxiety should no longer be an issue, the joy of electric cars and the psychology of autonomous vehicle adoption.He explains why he doesn't own a car, his favorite driving experiences and the difference between mobility adoption in America and Europe.He also tells us why he wants to share a Redbreast with his grandfather and sharing a gin and tonic with Dame Judi Dench.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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