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Calls for dram to become official whisky measure

“Dram” has been the Scots word for a measure of whisky since time immemorial. However if you were to walk into a bar in Edinburgh or Glasgow today, it’s likely that you’d be met with blank stares, unless the staff happen to have a good knowledge of whisky history and culture.

This could all be set to change thanks to a campaign by the organisers of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival to have the dram reinstated and for the legal 25ml measurement to bear this name.

Public support for the campaign has gathered some momentum and hope that a final push from the thousands of international visitors who are expected to attend the Festival next month will help them reach a successful outcome.

The Festival wrote to the National Measurement Office to ask for the dram to be reinstated so that revellers would be able to walk into any bar and ask – legally – to be served a dram. But when officials said alcohol could only be sold in metric measurements and they could not support a dual measurement system, organisers launched their bid to have the 25ml and 35ml measurements renamed a dram and large dram respectively.

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival manager Mary Hemsworth says the campaign has sparked an important debate about a word which is synonymous with Scotland and Scotch whisky.

An international issue

“We have had messages of support for what we are trying to achieve from as far afield as California and Australia. People do genuinely feel a huge affinity for the dram and they are telling us that they would like to see the dram gain official, legal recognition.

“It has been clear from the debate being generated that people have very different ideas about what size a dram should be. Some people are saying the 25ml measure should be a nip and the 35ml measure should be a dram, while others are telling us that to limit the dram to a 25ml measure may seem a little stingy.

“The people who visit the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival come from all over the world, but they all have one thing in common – an incredible passion for Scotch whisky. We intend to listen to their thoughts during the Festival and if they truly do support this campaign, we will go back to the National Measurement Office to ask them to listen to the will of the people.”

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes place from May 2-6 and is a celebration of everything connected to Scotland’s national drink.

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