News / What Exactly Is A Wee Dram

10/11/2015 What Exactly Is A Wee Dram

Fancy a wee dramSo I've been asked this question a multitude of times by a great many people... "what is A Wee Dram?" But to answer that question properly there are a multitude of answers.

The folks behind the Spirit of Speyside festival were behind a campaign to have " a dram of whisky" recognised as an official measurement of whisky in the weights and measures act.

I've also had a good number of people tell me they thought a wee dram translated into the literal a small dram or a little dram but to be honest that isnt accurate either.

To explain lets look at the term "wee", if you ask just about anyone what "wee" means in Scotland you will generally be told "small" but like almost everything in Scotland there are many many meanings to every word.

For example someone in Scotland may go for "a wee walk" or tell you that they will be with you in "a wee while" and although they could mean a small walk or a little moment they also may not.

In Scotland we use the term "wee" as an infinite measurement of time, space, distance or anything else we want to measure. So in the cases above a wee walk could mean a 96 mile journey over the west highland way, and a wee while could be 2 hours time, or tomorrow or next week.

So when it comes to "a wee dram", as I explained to Glen at Under the Tartan Sky (listen to the podcast here) A wee dram is used as an infinite measurement of whisky.

So when i say to a friend "Ye'll awa' in fer a wee a dram" what i'm really saying is "will you come into the house and avail yourself of my hospitality" or in other words come in and drink whisky until we don't want to drink anymore.

Now that may jst be one or three whilst we chat over everything or nothing or it may be lets have a bit of a session.

To give a bit of context about how this works I always recall a story my Mum told me of visiting relatives in North Uist back in the mid 1950's, when asked into the house of any of the neighbours you were always asked "you'll have a wee dram?" now this wasn't so much a question as a statement!

It would be an insult to refuse and then when the dram arrived it would be an insult to not at least put it to your lips and pretend to have a sip, but the highlanders in those days certainly took the expression "the generosity of a man is measured in the size of his dram" to heart and the dram would more often than not arrive in a half pint glass filled as high as they could.

So next time you're asked if you want "A Wee Dram" you might want to check your schedule before you reply.