Back in 2009, our Senior Brand Ambassador, Martin Markvardsen, was honoured with the title ‘Keeper of the Quaich’ in recognition of his outstanding commitment to the Scotch Whisky industry. In October 2021 he was distinguished even further and is now ‘Master of the Quaich’ – a position that is ‘a rare and revered privilege.’
But who are the ‘Keepers of the Quaich’, and what do Martin’s honours mean? Well, the Keepers of the Quaich is an international society established by the Scotch Whisky industry in 1988 to celebrate the outstanding commitment of those involved in the production, promotion and protection of the world’s ‘finest distilled spirit’. The society takes its name from the traditional two-handled drinking cup known as a ‘cuach’ or ‘quaich’ in ancient Scots Gaelic, a vessel long associated with friendship and the enjoyment of Scotch Whisky. Today, the organisation is represented in over 100 countries and has welcomed over 2,800 members. Before you rush to sign yourself up, however, it’s worth pointing out that membership is by invitation only and based on recognition of your contribution to the Scotch Whisky industry through working, writing or speaking on its behalf.
In fact, only a very limited number of individuals are inducted as Keepers, at private ceremonies held twice a year in Scotland. The robust selection process sees potential Keepers (who must have worked in the industry for seven years) being nominated by existing Keepers or Masters or founder members. Only a very select few, of which Martin is now one, are subsequently recognised as Masters, having been elected as Keepers.
Martin became Highland Park’s Senior Brand Ambassador in 2006 and his job involves travelling the world (he’s delighted to be able to start doing that again!) educating and entertaining beginners and connoisseurs alike about Highland Park whisky. He has been published widely on the subject of whisky and was awarded Scotch Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year in 2018. Of his new title, Master of the Quaich, Martin is typically modest: “I’m hugely honoured and proud. To be Master of the Quaich not only shows my many years in the industry, but that I must have done a few things right over the years too. This can only be done if I have a great team to work with and I honestly think it’s the best team in the world.”
Martin received his honour on 4th October 2021 at a ceremony and banquet held at Blair Castle in Perthshire, the spiritual home of the Keepers.