Why is it called dram?

Answered by James Kissner

The word ‘dram’ has an interesting history that can be traced back to its origins in Ancient Greek. The term ‘dram’ is derived from the Ancient Greek word ‘drachme’, which was used to refer to a unit of currency or weight. In fact, the word ‘drachme’ appeared in the Bible as a unit of treasure.

Over time, the word ‘drachme’ evolved and was adapted into different languages. It made its way into Latin as ‘drachma’, and from there, it entered Old French as ‘drame’ and Old English as ‘dram’.

In Old English, the term ‘dram’ had multiple meanings, including a unit of weight, a coin, or a small amount of liquid. In the context of whiskey, the word ‘dram’ came to be associated with a small measure or serving of the spirit.

The use of the word ‘dram’ to describe a small measure of whiskey can be seen in various historical contexts. For example, in Scotland, where whiskey has a long and rich tradition, the term ‘dram’ was commonly used to refer to a small portion of the spirit. This could be attributed to the Scottish Gaelic word ‘dram’, which means a drink or sip.

Additionally, the idea of a ‘dram’ of whiskey is often associated with the idea of a medicinal or restorative drink. In the past, whiskey was believed to have certain health benefits, and it was sometimes prescribed as a remedy for various ailments. The concept of a ‘dram’ as a small dose of a potent substance may have influenced the use of the term in relation to whiskey.

It’s worth noting that the term ‘dram’ is not exclusively used for whiskey. It can also refer to other distilled spirits, such as brandy or gin, and even to non-alcoholic beverages in some contexts.

The term ‘dram’ for a small measure of whiskey can be traced back to its origins in the Ancient Greek word ‘drachme’. Through linguistic evolution and cultural influences, the word ‘dram’ came to be associated with a small portion or serving of whiskey. Whether it be the historical usage in Scotland or the idea of a restorative drink, the term ‘dram’ has become firmly entrenched in the world of whiskey.