What is a Quaich?

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

For centuries whisky has played a pivotal role in Scottish society, both as a social lubricant and ceremonial aid. A dram is taken to toast the birth of a newborn, to commiserate the death of a loved one, to see in the new year and to celebrate a wedding, or any other special occasion for that matter. In truth, the Scots have never needed much encouragement to pour a drop of the amber nectar.

A common feature of ceremonial occasions is a bowl-like cup known as a Quaich. This two handled drinking vessel is believed to have originated in the clan culture of the Highlands, possibly inspired by the scallop shells that were once used to hold a dram. The Quaich (from the Gaelic "cuach" for cup) was used to welcome visitors, passing from host to guest. Since each man had to use both hands neither could hold a weapon, making the humble Quaich the ultimate symbol of trust and friendship, although some were said to prefer a glass-bottomed version, so they could keep an eye on the other whilst drinking.


Today the Quaich is most often used at weddings, Bride and Groom sipping from the same cup as a metaphor for their union, a tradition believed to have begun in 1589 when King James VI presented one to Anne of Denmark on the occasion of their wedding. They are also sometimes used as an alternative to trophies. During the Glasgow Commonwealth Games of 2014 for example, bronze, silver and gold medal winners were presented with a specially designed commemorative Quaich as a Scottish alternative to flowers.

Traditional Quaichs were carved from a single block of wood but they are now more commonly made of pewter or silver, with ornate Celtic designs carved into the handles. Their purpose now seems predominantly decorative, but it is in their traditional use and the spirit of welcoming friends and strangers alike that we have created The Quaich Podcast, an audio equivalent to the "cup of friendship", where acquantainces old and new meet over a drink. A virtual fireplace, where drams are shared and tall tales told. Where a lack of knowledge is never judged and differing preferences are celebrated. Where whisky and friendship come together.

Fàilte gu Podcast Quaich.

#History #Quaich #QuaichPodcast

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