Whisky Traditions at Abbotsford

15th February 2022

Sir Walter Scott was a great lover of whisky. The quote “I wish for a sheep's head and a whisky toddy against all the Champagne in the world”, taken from his personal journal, showcases his fondness of the drink. Walter Scott is thought to be the very first novelist to mention specific Scotch whisky distilleries in his work. He was partial to Speyside and Highland drams with a little water and when relaxing privately, he would have a whisky toddy before bedtime.

Scott enjoyed whisky from the Glenlivet area, Speyside as we know it today, and this seems to have been the whisky he encouraged King George IV to drink during his 1822 visit to Scotland’s capital. Scott described it as the only liquor fit for a gentleman.

Sir Walter Scott was a great host and has shared whisky with many of his famous guests using the traditional quaich – Scotland’s cup of friendship.

Sharing a drink using a quaich is a symbol of camaraderie in Scotland. It has two handles, known as lugs, to represent trust and, in many cases, has beautiful carved elements in the design. Originally, they were fashioned from wood, but in Scott’s day they could also be made of various metals, particularly silver and pewter, and this remains their most popular medium today.  

The Jacobite quaich displayed in our free exhibition belonged to Walter ‘Beardie’ Scott, Sir Walter Scott’s great grandfather, who fought tirelessly for the Jacobite cause and famously vowed not to trim his beard until a Stuart monarch regained the throne. While visiting Abbotsford, we highly recommend going to see the free exhibition in the Visitor Centre where you can find many fascinating collection pieces as well as in depth information about Sir Walter Scott’s life and legacy.

As part of the Walter Scott 250 celebrations, we are delighted to have launched the Abbotsford Whisky. Produced in collaboration with Holyrood Distillery, this Blended Malt Scotch Whisky has been created with a finish that Sir Walter Scott would have enjoyed in his day. The tasting notes of the Whisky include rich dried fruits, spices, vanilla and oak with a well balanced finish. This limited edition whisky has been named after Sir Walter Scott’s novel Waverley.

In our Visitor Centre Shop, alongside the Abbotsford whisky, we also have pewter quaiches available for purchase. They make a great gift for a loved one or a souvenir for your own use with friends. Start your own tradition!