We close this collection with a modern piece commemorating the final act after finishing a dram. A quaich has become the honored prize in many solo piping events. It is the ceremonial vessel for serving a dram of whisky. The word quaich derives from the Gaelic word cuach, meaning simply, “cup.” Legend goes that it is based on large scallop shells, which are believed to be the traditional way the “water of life” was consumed in the ancient Highlands. By the time of the seventeenth century, the quaich was in common use as a means to share whisky during formal occasions. Major greetings in the Highlands were often begun with a shared taste of whisky from quaichs as a gesture of fealty. Later Scottish military tradition demanded that the regimental piper be given a dram in a quaich after final mess. It was, and is still, customary for said piper to flip over the quaich after drinking and kiss the bottom as a sign that no whisky was left behind and wasted. This ritual is observed each night at the start of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle throughout the month of August, as the lead piper greets the night’s guest of honor with the traditional toast, which is a fitting parting salute to finish this year-long collection of tunes: “Slainté.”
The entirety of the “Whisky Tunes” collection will soon be available in print! If you’ve enjoyed this year-long, weekly serial release of tunes, watch this space!