THE organisers of one of Scotland’s largest whisky festivals are launching a new campaign to bring back the term “dram” as a legal measure for the first time in 50 years.
The traditional dram has been outlawed as a measure for Scotland’s national drink for more than half a century. And the gill also ceased to be a legal measure for whisky in 1995 when the move to metric brought in 25ml and 35ml measures for all spirits.
The team behind the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival had hoped to begin selling drams again to the thousands of international whisky fans due to descend on the area next month for the annual celebration of Scotch. But their request to have the dram reinstated as a legal measurement has been knocked back by bureaucrats.
Mary Hemsworth, manager of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, has now set up a Facebook campaign, dedicated to the revival of the ancient measure for spirits. She pointed out that European Union commissioners have already ruled that butchers and greengrocers can sell goods in both imperial and metric measurements.
Mrs Hemsworth said: “If it’s possible to sell bananas in pounds and ounces, surely they can allow the Scotch whisky industry to sell whisky in drams.
“Even 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.”
She continued: “It seems silly that Scotland’s other iconic food and drink products like haggis and shortbread can be sold in weights other than metric, but the same rules do not apply to the most iconic of all Scotland’s products.
“Whisky and the dram have gone hand in hand for centuries, and the very word conjures up images of warmth, hospitality and conviviality.”
The fluid dram is defined as 1⁄8th of a fluid ounce – equivalent to 3.551ml, but dates back to a time when whisky was a rare luxury, hence the tiny volume. Nowadays, the term “dram” would simply be applied to a whisky served in a standard 25ml or 35ml measure.
Ms Hemsworth added: “The National Measurement Office appears set on the prescribed limit of 25ml and 35ml, so we feel that the only way forward is to press to have these measures officially named a dram and a large dram so long as they are used exclusively for the sale of Scotch whisky.”
A spokesman for the National Measurement Office said it would be “difficult” to prescribe the use of the dram within the new metric regulations. He added: “The intention of this regulation is to ensure that consumers can easily compare quantities and prices and can keep track of their intake more easily.”