After a hard day visiting, or for that matter working in a Speyside distillery, what else would you rather do than retire to the fireside and enjoy some of the region’s liquid produce? If so, there’s nowhere better than The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s partner bar The Quaich, which you’ll find on the first floor of The Craigellachie Hotel.
The hotel, and the bar, date back to 1893, but underwent an extensive modernisation and makeover under new ownership in 2014, reopening at the end of that year. During winter you can cosy up by the open fire, while summer visitors may have the opportunity to sit out on a replica of the original balcony from the hotel’s foundation, overlooking the River Spey and its iconic Craigellachie Bridge.
As well as an ever-changing shelf of Society bottlings, The Quaich stocks around 800 whiskies, all on display across one of the most impressive back bars you’re likely to encounter anywhere.
When the Unfiltered team stop by, head bartender Angus Bryce-McVay is stoking the fire, mixing whisky sours for a group of visitors from the US and somehow finding time in between to chat about what makes the bar special.
“You’d think it might be relatively quiet and secluded working in a rural place like Speyside, but actually it’s the epicentre for the Scotch industry and there’s always something interesting going on, whatever season it is,” he says.
SMWS ambassador to the Netherlands Hans Offringa is such a regular visitor that he has bottle number one in the “Friends of the Quaich” corner of the bar – membership allows you to purchase your own bottle and keep it handy for the next time you return.
“The Society bottlings have been a very welcome addition and have become quite a talking point,” says Angus. “Even for visitors who already know a lot about whisky, it can be a bit of a curveball, serving them something from one of the green bottles without a distillery name on it. I like to think of it as whisky in its purest form.”
We’ll drink to that…
OUR PARTNER BAR NETWORK
The Quaich Bar at The Craigellachie Hotel is one of almost 100 of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s partner bars around the world, where you can receive a discount on drams by producing your member card. We’re adding new partner bars all the time – for a complete list, visit smws.com