Scots festival calls to have whisky sold in drams


A SCOTS festival is calling for the measure whisky is served in to be officially renamed as a “dram.”

Those behind the Spirit of Speyside Festival had hoped to sell drams to the thousands of international visitors who are expected to attend the annual celebration, which takes place on Speyside next month.

However, a written request to have the “dram” reinstated as as a legal measurement has been rejected by the London-based National Measurement Office.

Mary Hemsworth, Fesitval Manager
Mary Hemsworth, Fesitval Manager


Since the metric system was introduced in 1995  whisky has been sold in 25ml and 35ml measurements. But, now the team on Speyside would like to see the larger of the two officially recognised as a dram.

Mary Hemsworth, the whisky festival’s manager, said: “If it’s possible to sell bananas in pounds and ounces surely they can allow the Scotch whisky in drams.

“Ever since the introduction of the metric system, beer and cider continues to be sold in pints so we strongly believe there is a case for parity for Scotch whisky and for it to have its own unit of measurement.”

In reply to the festival team’s first letter, the National Measurement Office wrote: “Unfortunately, the ‘dram’ does not equate exactly to one of the existing specified quantities so it would not benefit from being treated as a supplementary indication alongside the metric equivalent.”

However, organisers believe that their drive to have the dram reinstated is important.

Mrs Hemworth said: “Whisky and  the dram have gone hand in hand for centuries, and the very word conjures up images of warmth, hospitality and conviviality.”

However, very few modern whisky drinkers would be happy if they were to be served an old-fashioned dram, which is the equivalent of just 3ml – about a tenth of a modern measure.

The last time whisky was officially sold in drams was more than 50 years ago. Before the change to the metric system in 1995, whisky was sold in specific quantities known as a quarter or fifth of a gill.