We’re the first to admit that we’ve sampled and enjoyed whiskey in all kinds of vessels from cut crystal to Flintstone jelly jars, but in the context of appreciating fine spirits, you get a real leg up from choosing quality glassware.
Naysayers who can’t imagine that glass style can make a difference should simply do a side-by-side comparison between one of the vessels named here and a brandy snifter (admittedly the worst possible whiskey delivery device). You’re apt to be amazed by the difference. And a large part of the reason is your nose, not your mouth. Whiskey necessarily has a large amount of alcohol and taking in great whiffs of it will numb your taste receptacles before the joys of the juice even meet your palate. Next in importance is directing the liquid throughout the mouth.
The glasses shown here deliver a pleasing mouthful of whiskey. The Glencairn glass (right) is based on a Sherry tasting copita and built for endurance. It’s also the glass of choice of Whisky Advocate magazine, our sister publication. The Riedel Single Malt glass (left) is a more delicate instrument, but its thin lip controls whiskey flow. Riedel has now discontinued its Small Batch glass, but according to Maximilian Riedel, we can expect a new Bourbon glass, developed in conjunction with Woodford Reserve. The Villeroy & Boch glass (center) is, however, specifically designed for Bourbon. The latest wrinkle is the Neat Glass from Arsilica (not shown), which takes a different shape tack. It’s more like a small Old Fashioned glass, but with big hips, a slim waist near the top and a wide mouth. It was built especially for enjoying cigars with your whiskey.
A word on vessels made for other ways to enjoy whiskey: We counsel smaller sizes on highball and cocktail glasses. Not because we’re prudish, but because they’re better at temperature management. The ice will melt out in a 16 oz. high ball glass and that birdbath Martini glass will warm up in your hand over time. Conversely, a double Old Fashioned glass that accommodates huge ice balls may be just the thing.
Whatever you use to hold your drink, remember what Mother said: “Don’t drink out of the bottle.”
Visit glencairn.co.uk, riedel.com, theneatglass.com and villeroy-boch.com.