A Quaich is a Scottish drinking cup that resembles a shallow bowl with two or three handles and The Quaich is a Scottish Whisky bar at the Craigellachie Hotel that is located in the heart of Speyside’s Whisky territory.
I know which one I prefer.
1. First things first, it’s not just about the drinkFrom the roaring fireplace to the handcrafted wooden furniture, everything in this bar seems to breathe a different flavour of Whisky.
Long day outside in the Scottish highlands? Curl up next to the fire for a game of chess or a casual read of coffee table books that teach you how to combine Whisky and jazz music.
More of a social type? Get yourself a spot at the bar and let the bartenders take you through the Whisky collection and share stories from the night before.
And when you need a break? The balcony beckons for a cigar with other visitors who have travelled from far and wide to be in the heart of Scotland’s Speyside region. This really is the place to indulge in anything and everything associated with drinking Whisky.
2. But it kind of is just about the drinkNow of course ambience is key but we all know why we would go here. Every wall is lined with the bar’s unique collection of over 900 single-malts, including some of the rarest and most sought-after Whiskies in the world.
Take the 13th edition Port Ellen as an example. In the past, releases of this 34 year-old single malt from the closed Islay distillery have sold out within a day of launch. Even if you can find one, a bottle from this edition is unlikely to set you back anything less than a cool $2500.
Like every other Whisky in the bar, it’s available by the dram for one and all to try.
3. Order your Whisky a la carteThe Quaich does however offer more than just an opportunity to try rare Whiskies so make the most of all the information and details that have been put into the menu. A few moments reading and you quickly realise that it’s been meticulously designed to celebrate Whisky’s past, present and future. Be ready to feel like a kid in a toy shop!
Innovative cocktails such as “The Fly Cup” with Aberlour 10, double cream, Disaronno and Kahlua are served alongside traditional single malt tasting trays that celebrate different regions and flavours.
Fancy learning a bit more about grain Whisky or new cask finishes? Name that Whisky query or flavour that has intrigued you over the last few months and four drams will appear to take you on a Whisky journey to remember. You will be impressing your drinking friends with some serious knowledge after an evening in this place.
4. Bar staff do a lot more than just pour drinksIt really is the staff at the bar that bring the whole experience together. More drinking companions than bartenders they passionately join your Whisky experience, smelling each bottle after they pour and occasionally tasting with small pipettes to ensure their advice and opinions are still accurate.
When you then make your drink selection the staff will always present the bottle alongside the glass in order to let customers read, contrast and take pride in their personal tasting selections.
Whether you’re a beginner or aficionado, there really is no better place to learn about Whisky so make the most of their knowledge.
5. Leave with new friendsAfter all, the bar is named after a Scottish drinking bowl with two or three handles often presented to others as a symbol of friendship.
I first visited the bar with my closest friend a few years ago. After a day visiting Aberlour and Glenfiddich distilleries (two of the several distilleries within a few mile radius of the hotel) the bar was recommended to us as a great place to keep the drams flowing. Had it just been the two of us we would have probably had a few drinks then headed home.
At the end of the day though any Whisky tastes better when it is enjoyed with people who share a passion for the drink—something The Quaich is never short of!
And if 900 Whiskies aren’t enoughWhile the location definitely makes this one of the most iconic Whisky bars in the world, it can certainly be beaten for volume of Whiskies…
Check out Boisdale’s in London which is home to over 1,000 Whiskies and plays host to the Cigar Olympics—an event focusing on matching cigars with Whisky.
With a similar number of bottles Flatiron Fine Spirits Parlor in New York provides guests the opportunity to store bottles in the bar and watch bar staff climb ladders to retrieve certain Whiskies in their collection.
Or take things a step further at Jack Rose Dining Saloon’s in Washington DC. Here you can order from their list of 2,390 Whiskies and also order some drams on draft.
But the title of the bar with the most Whiskies in the world goes to Devil’s Place at Waldhaus Am See hotel in St. Moritz. Here you can find over 2,500 different types of Whisky from all over the world. Enough said.
PS. If you do find yourself at the Quaich and need a bit of fresh air then pop across the road to the Highlander Inn, a smaller bar with just 400 different malts to choose from.