How Much is a Dram of Whiskey? And What is it Exactly? (2024)

By Timo Torner/ Last updated on May 23, 2023

If you enjoy sipping good whiskey, you might be familiar with the term dram - a somewhat loosely defined measurement for whisky. And what that means, I will explain now.

How Much is a Dram of Whiskey? And What is it Exactly? (1)

A dram of whiskey equals one-eighth of a fluid ounce (3.7ml), less than one teaspoon (5ml). That means a regular serve of whiskey (1.5 ounces) contains about 12 drams. But that's not what you get when you order a dram of whiskey in a bar. In Ireland, you get 35.5ml, in the UK between 25ml and 35ml, and in the US you typically get 45ml or 1.5 fluid ounces.

The termdramoriginates from Scotland and is a synonym forone serving of whiskey. However, a dram ofwhiskeyis a very flexible unit to measure the amount of liquid.

Initially, it referred to a small amount, less than 5ml: 3.69ml or 1/8 of a fluid ounce. However, in daily use, that would be pretty impractical. Today, ordering a dram of whiskey will get you way more than that. How much depends on the region and your bartender.

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What is a Dram of Whiskey?

How Much is a Dram of Whiskey? And What is it Exactly? (2)

We previously established that a dram is a unit of measurement that equals 1/8 of a liquid ounce or 3.7 milliliters. The official definition of the word is a bit looser.

Renowned English dictionaries like the one fromCambridgedefine a dram as asmall amount of a strong alcoholic drink. While that is pretty much what it is, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

In real life, the term dram stands for one serving of whiskey. The size of said serving depends on the country and the bartender. Some values serve as orientation, but most bartenders measure the measure dram with feeling and eye and not with a measuring cup or jigger.

How is a Dram Measured?

You can measure a dram with the help of theUnited States Customary Systemor the guidelines of theUK National Measurement and Regulation Office.

TheUnited States Customary Systemmeasures units in foot, miles, pounds, inches, and ounces. In this system, one dram representsone-eighth of a fluid ounce.

TheUK National Measurement and Regulation Officeuses the metric system to measure units, like kilometers, kilograms, and milliliters. The switch to the metric system in the UK, however, did not occur until the 1970s; before that, standard beverage sizes were measured in gills.

A quarter gill was a common size for spirits, especially in Scotland and Ireland. In Ireland, therefore, the drama is still a quarter gill. In the rest of the UK, measurements changed, and today a dram size of25ml to 35mlis common.

Whiskey Drams - Types & Sizes

The size of a dram of whiskey may vary depending on location. Here are some of the most common dram sizes around the world.

Irish Dram

As the UK and Ireland adopted the metric system in the 70s, the measures were standardized and converted to milliliters.

Ireland decided to stick to 1/4 imperialgill(English measure for one-fourth of an imperial pint, not to be confused with the US Gill), converted to35.5ml as standard dram.

UK Dram

In the UK, it's up to the pub or bartender to choosebetween serving 25 or 35ml per dram.

Scottish Dram

TheScots started ordering their whiskyby the dram. It always had been an unofficial measurement, best described asthe amount of whisky you can swallow at once.

However, in most cases, the size of one dram equals the amount of the UK dram, as both are the UK National Measurement and Regulation Office. That means you either get 25ml or 35ml when ordering a dram in a Scottish bar.

US Dram

The American dram holds even more than the Irish and evidently adjusted to the alleged fact that Americans like their drinks in larger sizes. Thus, in the United States, ordering a dram usually gets you1.5 oz of whiskey - that is just short of 45ml.

Wee Dram

The term "wee" stands for small or little, and in the context of dram, it simply describes a smaller-than-usual serving without being too precise in terms of measurements.

Dram sizes in other countries

Ordering a dram of whiskey in Germany can get you a serving of 20ml or 40ml. Most of the time this will be 40ml, but you can't be sure unless it says so on the menu.

Ordering a dram of whiskey in France will most certainly get you a serving of 30ml. And the list goes on.

There are different amounts for almost every country. And that is not exactly making it easier to understand the dram size. Read on to learn how the various measurements came about.

So, what does dramming mean?

Dramming describes the act of drinking a dram, mostly in company. For most of us, dramming in company tends to be on the stiffer edge. - And even awee dram (wee means a little in Scotland and Ireland) can turn out quite a lot when dramming with your best friends.

When you pour for yourself, a dram is just the amount of whiskey you feel comfortable with at a given time. You see, that may vary.

Therefore the Scottish are using some additional terms to specify the amount further: The size ranges from awee dramover ahealthy dramto astiff dram.

How Much is a Dram of Whiskey? And What is it Exactly? (3)

Evolution of the dram in the British measurement system

The Brits could have left it at the free interpretation of a dram. However, while this certainly makes sense when poured at home, it does not so much when you intend to sell whiskey by the dram. Then you will need a more precise definition.

Dram, as a unit of measurement, exists in two ways. One is a weight measure, the other thefluid dramwe know from drinking whiskey. It initially equaled the above-mentioned 1/8 oz of the spirit.

However, as mentioned briefly, the British Empire decided that from 1973 on, the Anglo-American measurement system should gradually be replaced by the metric system, making a dram of 3.55ml and a hard thing to measure with the new system.

In this case, dramming would not have been much fun, as this is barely enough whiskey to moisten our tongue. So adjustment was inevitable.

To understand that, we introduce another measure: the unit of choice in British pubs once was gill. A gill is the same as a quarter pint (568.26 ml) - too small for a beer and too much for a high-proof liquor.

Therefore, spirits got served in quantities like 1/6, 1/5, or 1/4 of a gill. That converted to shots with 23.7ml, 28,4ml, and 35.5ml. So over time, these common parts of a gill were often called a dram.

So the size of a dram still varied regionally, but now there was a smaller range. As a rule of thumb, you can apply theDistance to London rule:The further away from London, the more whiskey a dram.

History of the Word Dram

Dram - a term for a weight measure - originates from the ancient Greek termDrachma. A Drachma had been the currency, a coin, actually, of Greece until 2002. Then it was replaced by the Euro.

How Much is a Dram of Whiskey? And What is it Exactly? (4)

Its Latin translationDragmawas adopted by the French and continued the journey from there into English-speaking countries. That was when it became a dram and was used to measure the physical weight of objects.


Even though a dram is now somewhat standardized for pubs and restaurants, it still widely varies for private events or whiskey distillery tours. Some serve less, some more.

By the way, should you be looking for distillery tours serving drams on the stiff end of the scale, I recommend visiting distilleries on Islay and getting into good graces with the guide. Because, as a Scottish quote says:

"A dram is a measure of Scotch determined only by the generosity of the pourer.”

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How Much is a Dram of Whiskey? And What is it Exactly? (2024)


How Much is a Dram of Whiskey? And What is it Exactly? ›

A standard pour of a dram, otherwise known as a large jigger, is often 1.5 ounces, equivalent to just over 44mls.

How much whisky is in a dram? ›

In Ireland, a standard dram remained at 35.5 ml (the same as a quarter gill) however, in the UK, publicans can choose whether to serve a dram of either 25 ml or 35 ml. Some people to say 25 ml should be a 'dram' and 35 ml should be a 'large dram'.

Is a dram equal to a shot? ›

Is a dram the same as a shot? No a shot is a standard unit of measurement while dram (in relation to alcohol) has never been an officially served quantity. Although the terms shot and dram are often used interchangeably to refer to a small serving of whisky, typically served neat (without ice).

Why is whisky called a dram? ›

A 'dram' originates from the term 'drakhme', the Ancient Greek name for coins or treasure. The word later evolved to 'dragma' or 'dragme' in Latin during the Roman era, describing the weight of the coin, before being translated through Old French and Old English.

What is a dram equal to? ›

Dram came from French through Latin and ultimately from the Greek word drachmē, meaning “handful.” As a unit of weight, a dram is 1/16 of an ounce (and an ounce is 1/16 of a pound). As a liquid measure, a dram is 1/8 of an ounce.

How much is 1 dram of whisky? ›

A standard pour of a dram, otherwise known as a large jigger, is often 1.5 ounces, equivalent to just over 44mls.

Is a dram of whiskey good for you? ›

The polyphenols in whiskey have been shown to decrease “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increase “good” cholesterol (HDL) levels, and reduce triglycerides, or fat in your blood. Bad cholesterol and triglycerides can clog your arteries, while good cholesterol helps to keep them clear.

What do you call a glass of whiskey? ›

There are lots of names for a measure of whisky. They include: a nip, a toot, a tot, a snifter, and a wee dram. But the most common name for a measure of whisky is a dram.

What is a nip of whiskey? ›

“Nip is short for nipperkin. This was a small measure for wine and beer, containing about half a pint (285ml) or a little under.” So, while dram is perhaps the best known Scottish term for a drink of whisky, it certainly isn't the only word on the block.

What's the value of a dram? ›

AmountToday at 6:21 pm
1 DRAM₹83.42
5 DRAM₹417.10
10 DRAM₹834.19
50 DRAM₹4,170.96
4 more rows

What is a pour of whiskey called? ›

Ah, the dram. This delightful term emanates from Scotland, where it's used to refer to a single serving of whisky.

Is whiskey really aged for 12 years? ›

Scotch whisky must be matured for a minimum of three years. If a bottle of Scotch whisky shows an age statement, e.g. "12 Years Old" means that the youngest whisky in the bottle is at least 12 years old. Scotch is bottled at a variety of ages, from 3 years to 50 years.

How much is a nip? ›

Nip. The alcohol bottle size known as a nip is also called a mini and contains 50 ml of alcohol. That's about 1.7 ounces and approximately one 1.5-ounce shot. Nips are commonly sold in grocery and liquor stores.

How do you measure a dram of whiskey? ›

A fluid dram equals one-eighth of a fluid ounce (the equivalent to two average-size thimbles), so there would be 128 drams per pint and 1,024 drams per gallon.

What is a gill of whiskey? ›

A gill is 4 ounces , it's used for spirits .

How many drams is 1 oz? ›

Overview: Glass & Plastic Container Size Conversion Chart
Container SizeDramMilliliter
1 oz.8~ 30
2 oz.16~ 60
4 oz.32~ 120
6 oz.48~ 180
9 more rows

Is a dram of whiskey a shot? ›

The measurement of a dram can vary by country, typically ranging from 25ml to 35ml. This contrasts with a standard shot, usually about 45ml. Understanding these differences enhances your appreciation of Jameson Irish Whiskey, whether you're savouring it neat as a dram or mixing it into a whiskey co*cktail.

How much does a dram hold? ›

One dram is equal to 1/8 of an ounce, or 3.697 milliliters.

What is a single whiskey measure? ›

Spirit measures and wine glass sizes

Pubs and bars used to commonly serve spirits (like vodka, gin, rum or whisky) in 25ml measures - that's about one unit of alcohol per measure. But these days many pubs and bars have switched to 35ml or 50ml measures – meaning you might be having a lot more alcohol without realising.

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