The first and most obvious answer to this question is, or at least should be, whisky! The real question here is, does it matter what kind of glass you use to drink whisky? There are many considerations to take into account when choosing a whisky glass, but the first and most important thing to note is that appreciation is key. You can appreciate whisky from a coffee mug in your office, from a hip flask on a hillside, or in a fancy crystal glass at a high-end whisky bar. But, to get the most out of your whisky, there are a few things to consider.
How do you want to drink your whisky?
f you like to drink your whisky with ice and soda or ice and water, one of those tiny little tasting glasses is just not going to be helpful. To make whisky into a long drink, you need a larger glass, which generally means a classic ‘rocks’ glass or tumbler, or a highball glass. They hold enough liquid for a long drink and they feel good in the hand. Not all rocks glasses are equal, however, there are a few tips that will enhance your drinking experience:
1.A rocks glass with a heavy base feels more satisfying to the hand and makes a nice solid “thunk” on the table
2.Clear glass enables you to see what’s inside, whether you’re interested in the colour or how much is left
3.Straight sides can get a bit slippery in the hand, particularly when the glass is wet with condensation and you’ve had a few glasses already, so get a glass with a patterned side for better grip.
If you’re drinking your whisky neat or with just a few drops of water, a rocks glass or highball glass just won’t do. Try pouring the same whisky into a rocks glass and a tasting glass, then smell the whisky. You’ll find the whisky in the rocks glass smells thin and volatile, while the whisky in the tasting glass smells more rich, round and full. For whisky served neat, you need a whisky tasting glass. There are many on the market, but anything with a tulip-shaped bowl will do the trick nicely. The tulip shape is important, as the tapered top helps to hold the aromas of the whisky.
Stemmed or Stemless?
Once you’ve opted for a tasting glass, this is the next big question. Whisky tasting glasses can largely be broken down into two types – stemmed and stemless glasses. Which you choose is largely a matter of personal preference and each has different benefitsStemless glasses are more robust and less likely to be knocked over in a busy bar when your gesticulation becomes more liberal. For those drinking at home, they are also less likely to be broken when you are washing and drying them.
Stemmed glasses, on the other hand, allow you to keep your fingers and fingerprints off the bowl. This in turn enables you to see the subtle colours more clearly and ensures your hand does not warm up the whisky through the glass
And of course, you may feel that one just looks better than the other. Stemless glasses look elegant to some people but too delicate to others. At the end of the day, the stem is up to you, so long as the glass has the tapered tulip shape.
Some tasting glass options
There are many whisky tasting glasses available on the market today, so it is worth reviewing a few of the more notable options:Glencairn. The Glencairn has become probably the most popular single whisky glass in the world. Designed by whisky industry insiders specifically for whisky, it is a perfect size, has the right shape and as a stemless glass is quite stable and durable. It’s hard to go wrong with a Glencairn unless of course, you like a stem.
Neat. Scientifically designed to optimise aroma and minimise volatile alcohol notes, the Neat glass is intended for all spirits rather than being purely for whisky. While less common than the Glencairn, it has strong advocates who love what it does for aroma. Detractors on the other hand find the highly flared rim difficult to drink from.
Norlan. The double-walled Norlan is a tumbler on the outside and a stemless tasting glass on the insight. Designed specifically to unlock the flavours and aromas of whisky, fans love the way it looks and points out that the double-wall prevents your hands from warming your dram. Others find the rim too thick on the lips and the weight strange in the hand, as it looks heavy and feels light.
Vinum. Riedel does extensive taste testing on all its glassware, and anyone who has been to a taste test of the Riedel Vinum whisky glass will swear that it does the best by the whisky. The glass has struggled to gain popularity as it looks and feels rather strange in the hand.
The Gràn Collection. New to the market, this range of four stemmed glasses has taken a different approach. Each of the glasses is optimised to different styles of whisky, specifically Classic, Delicate, Sherried and Peated. The logic behind the design is that there is a vast array of whiskies with different aromas and flavours so one single glass will not be the best for all whiskies. Beautiful and practical, The Gràn Collection is a superb choice for anyone who prefers a stemmed glass over a stemless glass.
Ultimately, there is no magical right answer in choosing the perfect whisky glass. It depends on how you want to drink and a range of personal preferences. As with anything whisky-related, the best option is always to try as many as you can.