A bid to have the dram legally reinstated as a measurement for the sale of Scotland’s national drink has been thwarted by bureaucrats. Now a rallying call is being sounded across the spiritual home of Scotland’s malt whisky industry to demand that the dram is officially recognised as a measurement for the sale of the amber nectar.
The bid is being led by organisers of one of the world’s biggest Scotch whisky festivals, who claim that being forced to sell the drink in anything other than a dram is discriminatory.
The team behind the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival had hoped to sell drams to thousands of international visitors when the annual celebration takes place on Speyside next month. But their request to have the dram reinstated as a legal measurement has been knocked back by bureaucrats who insist that alcohol can only be sold in 25ml or 35ml measures.
Now they say that if they can’t have the dram brought back into use, the current metric measurement should officially be renamed as a dram exclusively for the sale of Scotch whisky in Scotland.
Mary Hemsworth, manager of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, points out that European Union commissioners have ruled that butchers and greengrocers can sell goods in both imperial and metric measurements.
“If it’s possible to sell bananas in pounds and ounces, surely they can allow the Scotch whisky industry to sell whisky in drams,” says Ms Hemsworth. “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.
“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.
“We feel that this is an important stance for whisky in Scotland. Whisky and the dram have gone hand in hand for centuries, and the very word conjures up images of warmth, hospitality and conviviality. The First Minister has just announced details of key events for Homecoming 2014 – surely these are the qualities that should embody Scotland as a nation as we prepare to welcome the world?”
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival contacted the National Measurement Office to ask for the dram, which has not been in use for 50 years, to be reintroduced as a measurement so that people could legally ask to be served a dram. Thousands of visitors attend the Festival every year in Speyside, which is home to more than half of all Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries.
The National Measurement Office states that the vast majority of businesses and consumers favour the current measurements of 25ml and 35ml.
Ms Hemsworth adds, “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 in Scotland.
“Whisky enthusiasts in Scotland and elsewhere feel very passionately about the word ‘dram’ and its relationship with whisky. We hope that they will join us in pressing for the dram to be legally recognised as a measurement by lending their support. They can do so by joining the conversation on our social media channels, and by posting photographs of menu boards and bars which clearly support the use of the dram.”
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has been running for the past 13 years and is a key event in the Homecoming 2014 calendar. The Festival has a packed programme of over 370 events aimed at celebrating everything connected to Scotland’s national drink, from distillery tours and whisky tastings, to ‘drambles’ – guided walks across the Speyside countryside – and the unique Spirit of Speyside Whisky School. Tickets for this year’s Festival are on target to break records, with a huge rise in the number of visitors coming from the USA, Canada and Scandinavia. Further information about the programme and where to get tickets are available at www.spiritofspeyside.com