What is it?

The Scottish quaich (pronounced “quake”) is a small, shallow drinking cup that has a rich history and cultural significance in Scotland. It is often used for ceremonial occasions, such as weddings and important gatherings, and has become a symbol of Scottish hospitality and friendship.

The Origins

The origins of the quaich can be traced back to the 16th century when it was used by the Scottish Highlands as a way to share a drink and seal a bond of friendship or alliance. The word “quaich” comes from the Gaelic word “cuach,” which means “shallow cup.”

The quaich was originally made from wood, but as the popularity of the cup grew, it began to be made from other materials such as silver, pewter, and even stone. The wooden quaichs were often decorated with intricate carvings, while the metal quaichs were often engraved with symbols or phrases that held significance to the owner.

One of the most famous quaichs in Scottish history is the “Loving Cup,” which was gifted to King James VI of Scotland by the Earl of Atholl in 1603. This quaich was made of silver and was intricately engraved with symbols of the royal family. It was used during important state occasions and was even used to toast the union of Scotland and England in 1707.

The quaich also played a role in military history, as it was often used as a way to celebrate victories and honor fallen soldiers. In the 19th century, quaichs were often given as gifts to soldiers returning from battle and were often inscribed with the names of their regiment or unit.

In modern times, the quaich is still a popular symbol of Scottish culture and is often used in ceremonial occasions, such as weddings, graduations, and other important events. It is also a popular gift for tourists visiting Scotland and can be found in many gift shops and souvenir shops throughout the country.

Wedding Ceremony

The quaich is often used in weddings as a symbol of togetherness and trust. It can be held by the bride and groom, with each taking a drink from it to symbolize their union.

The contents of the quaich can vary, with a traditional choice being single malt whisky, and then all participants can drink from the mixture to symbolize the new union. If either the bride or groom does not drink alcohol, or if the quaich will be shared more widely, a soft drink can be used instead.

Another option is for the parents of the bride and groom to participate by passing the quaich to each other as a way of welcoming each other into their respective families. All of these options serve to strengthen feelings of love and trust and allow everyone to feel included in the celebration.


There are several different styles of quaichs available, ranging from simple and traditional to more elaborate and decorative. Some quaichs are made from wood, while others are made from metal or other materials. Some quaichs have intricate engravings or carvings, while others are plain and simple.

Regardless of the style, the quaich is a symbol of friendship and hospitality in Scotland and is a beloved part of the country’s rich cultural history. It is a reminder of the importance of sharing and community and is a symbol of the strong bonds of friendship and loyalty that have long been a part of Scottish culture.

In addition to its cultural significance, the quaich is also a practical and functional item. It is perfect for serving and drinking whisky, as well as other spirits. The two handles make it easy to hold and pass around, and the glass bottom allows easy viewing of the contents. It is a versatile and practical item that is perfect for any occasion.

Whether you are a collector, a whisky enthusiast, or simply a lover of all things Scottish, the quaich is an item that you will treasure for years to come.

  • Steven Trotter is a graphic designer (UX/UI, web & branding), photographer, and maker living and working on the Oregon Coast.