Measured Drinking



In front of my whisky shelf lies a line of measures.  Why you ask?  I admit on occasions I have seen my friends look slightly askance as I carefully measure out our drams.   To be clear although by birth I am an Aberdonian a breed famed for caution and thrift, neither of these qualities has anything to do with my using measures.

I share the best of my whisky indeed I find that the greatest of pleasures whisky brings is a dram shared with friends which is always is a tastier dram. No one is missing out and my friends will confirm that I have no issue with offering several drams of an evening. i.e. we always have a few.

My reasons for measures are several and in no particular order:

I like to know how much water I have added or to repeat my preferred amount in future which clearly requires the use of a measure.

By using a measure I know how many units of alcohol I have consumed and indeed how many calories.  It is ironic that since moving from being a wine ‘expert’ to appreciating whisky, I have consumed less alcohol by unit and lost weight! Look for a future Blog ‘the health benefits of drinking whisky’ which will require a disclaimer I fear.

Finally there is something about the ritual of the measure and the use of old measures which are ‘objet d’art’ in themselves which I enjoy.

Ok in  my youth we have ‘ersed’ a bottle or several in quick order and now as I savour each sip the joys of excess are things of my past.  ‘ersed’ our Scottish word of the week means finished in its entirety rapidly and with vigour.

I actually have 4 measures.  I originally bought a double sided 25ml/50ml modern measure.  the  current UK pub single and double. 

I then bought a 35ml which is almost a quarter gill, the measure of my grandfather and fathers era the demise of which caused such heartache in pubs the length of Scotland as metrication replaced these whisky drinker standards – clearly  a way for manipulative pub groups to sell less whisky at the same price.   I remember the uproar in my youth and feel it a personal campaign to return the quarter gill to its rightful place.

My quarter gill antique measure source on eBay when it arrived turned out to be a quarter pint – a full gill and a bit to much of a measure to drink in one sitting.  I will in time source and fit a 35ml glass vial inside this wonderful old measure.

Now to be frank , 25ml is just not enough to properly savour and taste a dram.  Unless it is perhaps 60% ABV which could be drunk with water.

50ml is about what I would most naturally regard as a good sized measure or as one of my friends calls it a ‘gentleman’s measure’.  Most ladies I know have no issues with this measure.

A quarter gill 35.5ml is a good amount for proper tasting, I personally think but that is just me.  Sure, I might have a couple of these on a quiet evening drinking by myself or with a friend.  25 ml is one unit of alcohol.  I  aim to to drink responsibly do I drink 4 nights a week occasionally 5 so 2 quarter gills each night is either 280 or 350 ml a week both within the 14 unit recommendation which is 350 ml a week  for a man which I roughly try to adhere to. Actually, when the medical profession enquire how much I drink a week.  I say “About the same as my Doctor” that usually ends the enquiry.

35ml also has the benefit of giving 20 quarter gills from a 70ml bottle which if nothing else is tidy, except if I buy a litre bottle which gives 40 25ml or 20  x 50ml.   Just for the sake of completeness I would not consider buying optics – I rarely drink the same whisky more than 2 evenings in a row and the changing of bottles and cleaning of optics would not be worth the hassle.

I have been known to pour direct from the bottle but try hard to equate this to a quarter gill.  Most of my friends pour about 60ml I estimate after some short (not compulsive) observation. 

In truth I do want to know what I drink and I do enjoy the ritual.  I have bought an Angel Share Water Dropper, highly recommended which will add to the ritual and they are based quite close to me, the other side of Black Grange.  Of course I only drink from Glen Cairn glasses.  Ritual is important but not as much as the company I drink with and the occasion, or the quality of the whisky enjoyed.

In case you all rush out to buy old measures, I ought to warn that several of these risk adding inadvisable elements to your dram.  Very old pewter from 17th and 18th century  was made from a tin alloy and it sometimes had lead added as a hardener.  In late 18th century Britannia metal became used and is held to be safe – albeit it is made from an alloy of  tin, antimony and copper.  So research your antique measures before using them.

I am sure many if not all will agree with me and indeed I encourage you to enjoy your own approach and I say Slainthe!  Enjoy your way and I will enjoy mine as

‘Freedom and Whisky gang the gither’. 

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