one for the whisky drinkers

I have just finished this rather fine quaich for a special order from a customer in Sweden.

It may look just like the normal quaich on my website untill you see it alongside the one I use myself. It is a big brother quaich.

Although I have been making quaiches for a couple of years now I only really started to understand them more recently.

The quaich is a special vessel for drinking whisky but what is interesting is that it is a communal drinking vessel designed to be passed around in a sociable manner. This sort of comunal drinking was the norm from Viking times up to the 19th century and is well recorded in Pepys who wrote of sharing a drink from a wooden mazer to Thomas Hardy who often has folk sharing a vessel of ale in the pub. It still continues in various livery companies and Oxbridge colleges at special dinners. I wonder when and why we started to drink from individual vessels, it changes the experience completely, it’s impossible to imagine a group of friends sitting smoking individual joints, how antisocial it would seem.

The reason I had never really understood this communal drinking aspect of quaiches was that I have never really been a whisky drinker, until that is we were visited by our German carpenter friends last year. On completion of our timber frame building there is a traditional ceremony involving the drinking of spirits. It seemed right that it should be a British spirit and the time right to try out my quaiches. We had some of the most wonderful evenings with the Germans and then with a wider gathering of woodworking friends in Wales sitting round in a warm cottage in front of a fire passing round a small quaich of whiskey, sharing stories and song. It felt so right, part of such a long tradition and at last I understood the quaich.

3 Responses to one for the whisky drinkers

  1. Jude March 26, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    Thank you, very interesting post.What type of wood is that?My husband and I have been discussing how they are turned..We decided they were turned on inside and up to the bottom of handles then chipped/carved? Nearly right? No?I agree sharing from a vessel like that would be a wonderful experience with friends.

  2. The Village Carpenter March 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm #

    I love the shape, Robin. Did the original quaich have a silver rim or is that your own personal touch?

  3. Robin Wood March 26, 2009 at 8:56 pm #

    Hi Jude, yes pretty well spot on, the rim is turned as well ready to fit the silver.Kari many original quaiches had silver rims, some were turned and some were stave built. They are still a common wedding present in Scotland but mostly they are pewter ones now.Scots will tell you that they are medieval in origin but I have not seen any evidence for them before the 17th Century. I have wondered if they were descended from a type of stave built drinking bowl which is found all round the Baltic and occasionally in Scotland during the medieval period.