How much is a dram of Scotch?

Dram of ArdbergIf you do any reading about Scotch, or whiskey in general, you’ll often read people talk about having a dram of Scotch. Intuitively we know it’s some measurement, that we pour a bit of the golden (or amber or whatever, depending what you prefer!) elixir, call it a dram, and go about our merry way enjoying it.

But, what exactly is a dram?

Historically, a dram was a coin, a unit of mass, and a unit of volume.

For volume, it’s an eighth (1⁄8) of a fluid ounce.

If you’re using a speed pourer, like they have in bars, you get about an ounce and a half in three seconds. For a dram, that’s a pour of a quarter of a second. If you think of it in those terms, it’s really not that much. (please don’t use a speed pourer on your scotch!)

For all practical purposes, a dram just means “a wee bit” when you talk about Scotch. No one is holding a measuring spoon when they measure out their drams!

(Photo: stephangeyer)

About Jim

Jim is the founder of Scotch Addict and one of the many fans of whisky in all its forms. Connect with me on Google+.
This entry was posted in General and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to How much is a dram of Scotch?

  1. Cory says:

    But in practice, nobody drinks that small of a glass. A normal pour in the UK is 1.25 imperial fluid ounces, so by definition, 10 drams. When you’re at home, you pour whatever you’re comfortable with. I think mine are typically 1.5 to 2.0 imperial fluid ounces.

  2. Hoose Mcnosin says:

    So, I will presume you are familiar with a Scotch tasting. How much is typically poured in a nosing glass at a tasting?

  3. Joe Crow says:

    …I always wondered whether I was over- or under-measuring my wee drams, bearing in mind that I live in Ireland where fractions of a Gill are the accepted measure (or at least they were, when I did bar work as a student).

    So now I know that my drams are just that: MY drams.

    Which leads on to my other long time question: how much water should I add? My favourite whiskies are Laphroaig; Lagavulin; and Caol Ila (in that order), although I can also be tempted by the (4?) other Islay malts, and I like a 50:50 malt:water mix, which I achieve either by eye or with a small measure – whatever is to hand – a shot glass, for instance.

    I’m not really a fan of other Scotches, although I admit that once I tasted the peaty/smoky Laphroaig I didn’t look much further!

    Slainte.

    Joe

    • Larry Brown says:

      Me too! In that order: Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Caol Ila. I am planning a trip to Islay at the end of May and will be in Port Ellen for their annual Islay Fest. Can’t wait to visit those distilleries and take the tours.
      -Larry
      P.S. – On the other scotchs – my wife ordered a bottle of 25 year Macallan for me for our Anniversary last year ($775). Wow, what a scotch! I will need to make that bottle last my lifetime, though!

    • Darren says:

      I agree about Laphroaig! I always come back to it.

  4. Rod McIntyre says:

    Good Day Joe,
    I am Rod McIntyre in Boulder Colorado and I have been enjoying fine scotch for many years. I prefer Macallan and have had the pleasure to try most others including your favorites. A very good friend of mine once ask me how I drank my scotch and I told him straight up. He suggested that I put in one single ice cube in to open the the flavors of the scotch and by God it sure did and also gave it a nice little chill which was perfect for me. Thought I might just pass that on for your review.
    Continue to enjoy the great spirit of scotch and I will toast to you in Ireland.
    Rod

    • Larry Brown says:

      Rod,
      I live in Baltimore, but a couple years ago I visited a friend in Denver. We went to Boulder for the weekend and I discovered Johnny’s Cigar Bar on 13th Street. They have a great scotch collection! Denver also – Pints Pub on West 13th Avenue.
      -Larry

  5. Dean says:

    So technically a dram of Scotch is a sip.

    I drink my Scotch straight up as well but I prefer to add a little bit of water to open up the flavor. Ice tends to dull the nose and flavor of the Scotch. But to each his own.

    I drink The MaCallan 12 and Glenfiddich 18.

    Enjoy.

  6. Rick Camp says:

    Having lived in Scotland (Edinburgh) for a year, I was told, “a dram is a measure of Scotch determined only by the generosity of the pourer”… which is exactly the way it seems to work out in reality!

  7. Steve says:

    For about thirty years I wouldn’t touch alcohol. But in a restuarant hanging over the Roaring Forks River in Glenwood Springs, CO, my wife ordered the house whisky. I picked up her glass to see what it smells like…..wow!!! Do I like the smell of The Glenlivit! To me a dram is that little bit I pour in a snifter, and it lasts for hours. I would love to experience 25, but 12 is still wonderful for an evening. My dram is probable about 1/2 an ounce.

    • George Thompson says:

      This restaurant had The Glenlivet (probably the 12 year old) in the well? The best scotch I ever tasted was a Glenfiddich single malt 22 year old. I do not like adding either ice or water as those dilute the experience. Back in the old days, folks would gather stream-chilled stones (not too big, not too small, just right – had to fit in a glass you know) and pour their whisk(e)y over those. Why added ice is called ‘on the rocks’. Here in the states Kentucky Bourbon is big. Many of those distilleries now sell stones for chilling purposes. I keep mine in the freezer. However, I prefer my nightly dram neat at room temperature.

  8. Merciful Fate says:

    Dram it! Don’t ya hate being disillusioned by a “special” sounding word. To me it always sounded like a decently sized glass with which you could get your nose in and enjoy the fragrance and taste, unfortunately it is a tiny unit of measure. So sorry all ya wee bonnie lasses but a “wee dram” would be a small small bit, and no educated person talks thus. I digress (and digest) for why drink it by the dram when you can drink it by the tun.

  9. Charlie Noble says:

    A Dram in Scotland can be the following: When you say, “Can I have a dram?” 1. If at a pub you can expect a basic shot of whisky. 2. If you’re at a neighbor’s or friend, you can expect a portion that they feel is of their generosity. So a dram, although may have some technical history or even a traditional history – A Dram of Whisky is shot. The amount of that ‘shot’ is determined by the owner of the whisky. A “wee dram” is usually just the beginning of a Tall one. Had you not a drink earlier, a wee dram is to get your windpipe ready for the taste of a good drink. Be sure it is real Scotch Whisky – Single Malt – and never spelled with an ‘e’ in Whisky. Otherwise it can’t be from Scotland.

  10. Merciful Fate says:

    A dram is exactly 3.696716 cubic centimeters (centimetres) which is exactly 3.696716 milliliters (millilitres) (same), 0.1250008 of an ounce (oz), 0.1301062 of an ounce (oz UK), 0.003906276 of a quart, 0.007812553 of a pint, 0.006505314 of a pint (UK), 0.2500018 of a tablespoon, 0.750005 of a teaspoon.

    I had this program called “Convert” on my computer the whole time and only just decided to look for dram under “volume” and sure enough there it was.

    3/4 of a teaspoon wouldn’t really impress someone or quench a thirst so maybe we should just have a glass of scotch?

    “They speak of my drinking, but never think of my thirst” ~ Scottish proverb.

  11. Barnabis Stinson says:

    I’ve always put 3 to 5 drops of water, enough to just open the aroma of the scotch

  12. The Great Gordini says:

    A dram is just what you want it to be. It’s referred to as “a wee bit” so that when you said you were having a dram of whiskey it made it not sound like you just drank a lot of whiskey. it’s all in how you spin it! And I’ll drink to that! A dram of course.

  13. Old MacDonald says:

    A wee dram of Scotch is a pour that both the host and the guest believes to be an honorable amount.

  14. voodoodoc says:

    I’ve tried all of the afore mentioned spirits, but through the generosity of a lovely lass of a wife, I’ve also had the opportunity to sample the 30 year old glenfiddich, am saving the 40 year old glenlivet for an extra special occasion.

  15. Dwayne says:

    There are so many great scotches out their! Laphroig is a top favorite, I used to buy a 30yo bottle of Glenfiddich each year and sip on it and finish it off New Years Eve. Such a smooth finish to a mature scotch!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>