The importance of the whisky glass

Your choice of glassware is arguably the most important decision you’re going to make when pouring a whisky, unless you’re adding water, ice or mixer.

What is the best whisky glass?

The glencairn is widely considered the best all rounder whisky glass and the one most commonly found in your average whisky bar. With a wide bowl, tapered nose and stubbed base. Raymond Davidson the designer derived the shape of the glass from the sherry copitas used by a number of whisky blenders. Ultimately the best glass depends somewhat on the liquid you’re drinking. We caught up with the London whisky meetup recently for a glass off. The results are below : TABLE HERE

What whisky glasses are available?

  1. Sherry copita
  2. Glencairn
  3. Society glass
  4. Riedel whisky glass
  5. Norlan glass
  6. Cognac glass
  7. NEAT glass
  8. 1920s’ Blenders glass
  9. The quaich

The sherry copita

The sherry copita is still the go to standard for a number of blenders and tasting panels, it works wonderfully for lighter drams and blends. Unfortunately it tends to build up alcohol vapours, long sherry cask finished whisky & peated expressions can be overpowering.

The glencairn

Although not living up to its reputation as the all rounder, the glencairn whisky glass fares better than the copita for peated and sherried whiskies. Alas it suffers from alcohol concentration on higher ABV expressions.

The society glass

By far the groups favourite, the society glass only falls short on the older, more gentle blends. The society whisky glass is the gold standard for grain whisky, peated expressions and heavily sherried.

The Riedel whisky glass

The Riedel glass is a little more obscure but well worth inclusion, especially if your lean towards lighter or more medium sherried whiskies.

The Norlan glass

The Norlan came in dead last in every category except for look and feel. A bit of a surprise given the level of effort that seems to have gone into its production, and the pedigree of those involved.

The cognac glass

Although not a whisky glass these are more common in bars than any of the others but worth inclusion. A solid alternative coming in behind the society and the glencairn glasses as an all rounder

The NEAT whisky glass

The NEAT (Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology) is one of the newest on the market and the most tumbler like of the mix. It does well for peated, sherried and higher ABV expressions and had the least alcohol burn off all glasses tried. Unfortunately the glass let’s far too many vapours to escape from lighter whiskies.

1920s’ Blenders glass

The 1920s’ glass is beautiful but ultimately far too fragile for day to day use (we broke two of them during our tasting). It performs heroically on gentle drams, old blends and brains. This glass does nothing for peated or heavily sherried whiskies.

The quaich

The quaich is more ornimant than whisky glass, it has fewer redeeming features than a tumbler. Leave it with whisky cubes, source water and the rest of the tourist guff.