Ok, so maybe “best whiskey glass in the world” is a little exaggerated.
But, drinking whiskey is as much about the experience as it is the whiskey itself.
The smell of the whiskey and the feel of the glass in your hand all contributes that experience as much as the flavor of the whiskey.
Determining which are the best whiskey glasses in the world is a very subjective thing. However, there are certain factors that you should look at when choosing a whiskey glass.
Appearance Of The Glass
Your go to Whiskey glass should reflect your personality, the decor of your bar if you have a home bar, and even the feeling you want to convey to your guests when you share a drink with them.
Remember that your whiskey glass will likely spend most of its time on a shelf or display in your kitchen or home bar area. So some consideration should be given to conveying a good appearance.
This may be the most important factor.
Drinking whiskey is about the experience. that experience should be very different from chugging a beer so a red Solo cup just won’t do.
Whiskey Glass Size and Shape
A good whiskey glass should not be too large. although it should have some weight to it, similar to a good thick pint glass.
Part of the feel is the glasses drinkability.
For this, you want to consider the shape of the glass, especially the lip of the glass where you will be drinking from. Some prefer a straight edge glass with others enjoy a curved glass. We will talk about the variations more below.
Nosing (The Ability Of The Glass To Convey Aroma)
Probably the most important functional aspect of the glass is its ability to let the drinker enjoy the aroma of a good glass of whiskey.
This is where you must make a trade-off.
The narrower the opening of the glass the more it allows the aroma of the whiskey to funnel and concentrate near your nose as your drink. However, many people prefer a more classic or traditional straight edge glass which does not allow this.
Of course, when you’re ordering whiskey at a bar you don’t have much of an option. but for enjoying whiskey at home you can select a glass that gives you the best experience.
So What Is The Correct Glass For Whiskey?
Of course there is no “correct” glass, but there are some great options if you are looking for the best glasses for whiskey.
Old Fashioned Tumblers
The tumbler is the most versatile of the popular whiskey glasses and the one you are most likely to see at your average bar or pub. These glasses can be used to drink whiskey neat, on the rocks, or even with a mixed cocktail like the Old Fashioned (hence the name).
If you are stocking your home bar and need some whiskey glasses, then this is where you should start. Every home bar should have some old fashioned tumblers. You can use them for more than just whiskey and they round out your basic glassware collection.
I recommend these Old Fashioned Tumblers. They are good quality, have a good weight to them, and are not too pricey.
You can also look for more creatively designed tumblers. Given the basic shape and function of a tumbler, they can be found in all kinds of variations.
Originally designed by a Scottish crystal company, the Glencairn glass was the first style of whiskey glass to be endorsed by the Scotch Whisky Association.
This glass gives you a great experience of tasting and smelling the whiskey at the same time. Many whiskey connoisseurs will tell you that this is the proper way to drink whiskey neat (no ice).
However, some Glencairn glasses have a significant enough curvature to them that they make it rather difficult to sip the last half of the drink. You might have to tilt the glass almost vertical to get the last of the whiskey from it. While of course this is not exactly impossible, it does hinder sipping and, in my humble opinion, detracts from the whiskey drinking experience.
I recommend this Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass. It is not too narrow at the top as to affect drinkability yet still provides for good nosing of the whiskey. It is also relatively inexpensive to try out.
The snifter glass is somewhat similar to the Glencairn except that it curves inward without flattening out at the top like the Glencairn.
This kind of glass is generally associated with cognac but it can also be used to drink whiskey. It has a wider base than most Glencairn glasses which allows for swirling of the drink and warming with your hand. The warmth helps to evaporate a small amount of the liquid which releases more of the aroma which is then concentrated by the narrow opening in the glass.
Some drinker prefer this over the Glencairn glass for whiskey. I can’t hurt to have a small set of snifter glasses hanging around whether it is for whiskey or just the occasional cognac.
I like this set of Amici Bartender’s Choice Footed Snifter Glasses to get started.
This is a variation on the snifter glass that is relatively narrow throughout. It is very good at concentrating the aroma of the whiskey.
Where the nosing glass falls short, though, is the fact that it is narrow at the base as well. This prevents most of the whiskey in the glass from being exposed to air and releasing the aroma. So while it may be well concentrated, you are losing some of the nosing experience with this glass.
The NEAT Whiskey Glass is a relatively new variation on the whiskey glass.
The makers of the glass claim that the shape of the glass minimizes the nose burn. Nose burn is when you get a big hit of the alcohol taste so much so that you miss out on the flavors of the whiskey itself.
The NEAT glass is designed to condense the aromas with the narrow opening like the glasses above. But then the glass widens quickly which, according to NEAT, seperates the alcohol smell from the aromas that are more characteristic to the particular whiskey that you are drinking, thereby allowing you to enjoy the drink more.
This video from NEAT explains it quite well…
So ultimately it all comes down to personal preference.
This guide should help point you in the right direction but follow your own enjoyment and what you like to drink out of. Don’t take these things too seriously. Whiskey is best when enjoyed among friends and paired with good conversation (and maybe a cigar).
So try all kinds of whiskey and try it in all kinds of glasses.
Let me know your favorites in the comments below so everyone can benefit from your whiskey experiences.