A Guide to Understanding Whiskey Drams 

Everything you need to know about this whiskey term

Many whiskey drinkers have their terms to describe what they’re drinking. Dram is the most unusual term; however, it’s the most common among whiskey drinkers. 

The term comes from Scotland and refers to a single serving of whiskey. 

We’re here to help you understand what a whiskey dram is. Also, we’ll give you information on how much whiskey is in a dram. 

What Is Dram in Whiskey? 

A dram in whiskey refers to the measurement of whiskey you can swallow at once.

A whiskey dram is how you can order a serving of whiskey in specific pubs worldwide. 

Dram size varies based on where you are in the world. A standard dram can be small enough in some countries to barely get the glass wet. 

Here are the top four countries that have varying dram sizes: 

In addition to the countries, there are many phrases that people use to refer to a dram, including “wee dram,” “healthy dram,” “stiff dram,” “tot,” and “nip.” 

Most whiskey drinkers order a dram of whiskey to ensure they get the flavors on their tongues. Usually, a dram contributes to a small amount of whiskey or scotch.

It’s normally neat or on the rocks instead of in mixed drinks or cocktails. 

Dram comes from the ancient Greek word drachme. The drachme were coins, and people would believe that you needed to use those coins to pay the ferryman to enter the Underworld. 

Also, in the bible, a drachme is a unit of measurement to identify treasure. 

In addition, William Shakespeare uses the term dram in his play Romeo and Juliet. When Juliet talks about taking a dram of poison, people translate the term to a shot of poison. 

Also, a dram comes from Ancient Scotland. In ancient times, the term was used to measure any liquid, especially apothecaries. 

Here are a few reasons why dram is a term used around the world: 

  • An aesthetically pleasing word
  • Convenient measuring unit 
  • Small tastable amount 

During ancient times, people didn’t enjoy drinking mixed drinks. Instead, they liked having plain whiskey or scotch in a glass because they could leisurely sip or take the drink as a shot

How Much Whiskey Is One Dram? 

Throughout history, one dram used to be equivalent to ⅛ of a fluid ounce of whiskey.

However, that amount barely fills your glass, and you won’t get the overall taste of the strong alcohol. 

A dram has a different definition according to the United States Customary System. Unfortunately, America is one of the only countries that don’t follow the metric system. Therefore, ⅛ of a fluid ounce is equivalent to less than four milliliters of whiskey

In perspective, this amount of whiskey is less than a teaspoon. That’s why American bars use jiggers to measure whiskey and other alcohols specifically. 

British bars serve alcohol, according to the National Measurement and Regulation Office.

One dram of whiskey in British bars is between one fluid ounce and a quarter fluid ounce. In American measurements, it’s about twenty-five milliliters. 

India uses a “peg” as the standard measure of whiskey

In American measurements, one peg of whiskey in India is equivalent to fifty milliliters of whiskey. However, one dram in India equals half the fluid ounces of a “peg.” 

The term dram has been widely popular in Scotland for centuries. So, one dram in Scotland is similar to a traditional serving size. Scotland is the original country for whiskey.

Also, scotch become the most popular variant among whiskey drinkers in Scotland. 

On the one hand, a Scottish dram measures fifty-three milliliters. On the other hand, however, people speculate whether or not the measurement has increased since ancient times. 

The Scottish dram measures one and a half fluid ounces. You can also measure one dram to equal 1/13 of a pint in the United Kingdom. 

In addition to measurements, many bars don’t use specific measurements to make their drinks. Instead, they eyeball the alcohol in a glass and use their judgment to determine the size. 

Ultimately, the bartender has the final say in measuring one dram. 


Now that you know the physical weight and standard size of one dram. Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions you may still want answers to.

Is a dram the same as a shot? 

In some countries, a dram can be equivalent to a shot. It’s measured as the amount of whiskey a person can have. However, the standard dram in America barely fills a shot glass.
On the other hand, a dram is less than a fluid ounce, which means it’s not the same as a shot.

How many drams of whiskey are in a bottle? 

An American bottle of whiskey contains under seventeen American drams. 
A British bottle of whiskey contains exactly twenty-seven British drams. 
An Indian bottle of whiskey contains approximately thirty Indian drams. 
A Scottish bottle of whiskey contains less than seventeen and a half Scottish drams. 

Final Thoughts 

So, while the original word originates from ancient Greece, the term dram has been used and changed for centuries. 

Over the years, a whiskey dram has become a measurement to enjoy your whiskey. However, the ancient Scottish term refers to your enjoyment of whiskey. 

You can enjoy a whiskey dram neat or on the rocks at bars worldwide. It’s all about taking your time and savoring the delicious flavor

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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