Festival homes-from-home

If you’re fortunate enough to be travelling to this month’s festivals across Scotland, be sure to visit the Society’s fantastic partner bars for a warm welcome and discounted drams



After a hard day of festival fun, there’s nowhere better to recuperate 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. If you’re lucky, you might even 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.

SMWS honorary ambassador 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 Quaich Bar is in The Craigellachie Hotel, Victoria Street, Craigellachie, Speyside AB38 9SR. Tel: 01340 881 1204.

The Quaich Bar



The Ardshiel Hotel was built in 1877 for the Greenlees family, one of Campbeltown’s distillery families. Marion MacKinnon and Flora Grant bought it in 2008 and over the years have carried out extensive renovations and improvements, highlighting many of the original features.

When Marion and Flora bought the hotel, the bar stocked fewer than 80 malts. This has drastically changed; the bar and ground floor areas have been designed to showcase their ever-growing selection of malts, with over 700 currently on display.

“We noticed that there were few bars or hotels in the area that had a strong whisky connection and we wanted to expand our collection to attract both locals and tourists and to share our passion by providing the world’s best whiskies,” says Flora.

Some of the drams offer the last chance to taste whisky from a closed distillery or possibly the first chance to sample from a new distillery. Working closely with local distilleries, Ardshiel are also currently bottling their third cask.

“We are proud to be a partner bar of the SMWS and have over 30 bottles available at any one time, rotating stock regularly allowing guests to experience many unique SMWS bottlings,” says Flora.

The Ardshiel Hotel is on Kilkerran Road, Campbeltown, Argyll PA28 6JL. Tel: 01586 552133.

The Ardshiel bar



The Society’s partner bar on Islay is at Islay House, the biggest, grandest country house on the island – a historic 35,000 square foot mansion in Bridgend that looms over the head of Loch Indaal. Its origins date back to 1677, during the reign of Charles II, as a tower house built for Sir Hugh Campbell of Cawdor. That structure has been expanded over the years, most notably in the 1760s with the addition of its twin stair towers and Palladian windows. William Playfair, a leading architect of the Scottish Enlightenment era, brought his influence to bear in the 1840s.

As a category A-listed property, owner Steven Haag is conscious of the need to stay true to the character of the building in its latest incarnation as hotel, restaurant and with the Peat Cutter whisky bar.

“We have kept it traditional and understated, and that’s in line with what Islay House should be and what the island is all about ,” says Steven. The Peat Cutter bar has a range of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s whiskies, the only bar on Islay to do so.

“We are independent, with our own tasting room, and as part of that the Society is a perfect fit for us,” says Steven.

Islay House is at Bridgend, Islay, Argyll PA44 7PA. Tel: 01496 810287.

The Peat Cutter bar at Islay House