The Scottish quaich is first mentioned in medieval times but its origins probably extend back even further in time. Traditionally the quaich bowl would be filled with whisky to offer welcoming or farewell dram to guests. The word Quaich derives from the Gaelic "cuach" meaning shallow cup. Originally the unique Scottish two handled cup was made of wood but by the 1660's silver quaichs were becoming increasingly popular. Fine examples of both wooden and silver quaichs can be found in the collections of Marischal museum in Aberdeen, Inverness museum and at the National museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
The mispronunciation of the quaich as 'quake' is perpetuated on numerous websites and on antiques shows such as the BBC's Bargain Hunt and Flog It! In Scotland, we pronounce quaich with the use of the Scots velar fricative 'ch' sound, as in loch, dreich, and dicht.
Non-Scots can find this sound difficult to produce, with a hard 'k' used in place of the 'ch' which leads to mispronunciations such as 'quake' and 'lock'.
In 1589 King James VI of Scotland, who later became James 1 of England, gave a quaich as a loving cup to his young bride, Anne of Denmark. In the early 1700's the infamous beggar's benison club gifted a quaich to one of its members on his wedding day. Sir Walter Scott's custom was to serve "a small libation of the genuine mountain dew" to guests from his collection of fine quaichs. Scott's personal glass bottomed quaich was originally part of Bonnie Price Charlie's canteen. To this day the quaich is used to raise a toast at special occasions such as weddings, Burns Night, christenings and family celebrations.
So many quaichs are being made abroad nowadays, but we make a point of stocking a range of high quality Scottish and Cornish made pewter and Edinburgh hallmarked sterling silver quaichs. Our quaich cups are available in a variety of popular designs, to suit every event and occasion. Quaichs make unique gift items, loving cups, friendship tokens, wedding favours and household or office display pieces. If you are looking for a Scottish gift you won't go far wrong with a quaich!