Which whisky glass should I use?
No one likes being a pain in the glass. We wouldn’t send back our venison even if, upon closer inspection, it turned out to be chicken. If our rare stake looks like it survived Hiroshima, it’ll be fine. A fly in the soup can be easily eaten around. If our lady fingers were actually a lady’s fingers we’d politely pay our bill and leave the restaurant. We’re gentlemen.
But, we cast our English sensibility aside if our whisky served in the wrong glass. You could drink wine from a mason jar, straight from the bottle of from a bathtub. But you wouldn’t. Why not? Because you’re a glass act. Whisky shouldn’t be any different. If you really want to appreciate a whisky, you drink it from a glass that, like a wine glass, curves inwards towards the top.
The iconic whisky glass is a cut crystal tumbler, which is how most bars will server you your dram. The problem is that a tumbler doesn’t hold and focus the aromas. But there is a time and a place for all the different types of glassware.
What’s a lowball glass?
Typically called a tumbler, this is the most common whisky glass. It’s perfect if you order an Old Fashioned or like your whisky on the rocks. This glass is terrible for nosing, which is why we don’t like when a bar serves us a whisky in one. It’s made for being filled with ice and the wide rim and base makes it great for heavy spirts. This glass is a must have if you want a classic whisky cocktail because the simple and cool design lets the drink speak for itself.
What’s a highball glass?
This is what you call a guy who can still hit a High F. No, seriously, it’s the glass for that most laudable of cocktails: the whisky and soda. It allows for plenty of ice, whisky and mixer. As you’d expect, this glass is all over Japan where a whisky and soda is more popular than neat whisky. The size and shape of your highball doesn’t matter (at least that’s what our mothers told us), but you should avoid dimpled glasses, which makes the carbonation go all funny.
What’s a snifter glass?
Designed so you can practically hold it sideways and the spirt won’t drop out, these glasses epitomise refinement. If you picture Winston Churchill, we bet you’re imagining him either holding a cigar or one of these. Probably both. Usually used for brandy, it’s becoming more common to see any dark aged spirit in these bowl-like glasses. But as is so often the case, this is a failure of style over substance. The snifter’s ludicrously wide body and narrow rim encourages the release of harsh ethanol that overpowers the whisky’s more subtle aromas. No one will every look cooler than when they are sitting in a wingback chair with one of these glasses in their hands, but the snifter is better for photo-ops than genuine whisky appreciation.
What’s a copita glass?
The copita glass is primarily used for technology-enabled business process management and outsourcing. Oh, wait, that’s the Capita glass. The copita whisky glass is tulip shaped and is based on the traditional Spanish sherry glass. You can see why we’d get them confused. The glass is popular with master distillers and blenders because the bowl shape concentrates smells through the narrow rim. The long stem keeps the drinkers hand away so its smell doesn’t come too close to the nose. Washing your hands after you use the toilet, however, can alleviate this. Evidently mater blenders
are too busy for that. Washing their hands, that is. The glass was originally used by merchants who used it to smell spirts after they came off the boat, which is why it is also known as a dock glass. The design lets you easily cradle the glass for warming and it is well suited for whisky appreciation.
What’s a NEAT glass?
Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology or NEAT is a forced anagram if we’ve ever heard one. But nonetheless, this is a brilliant glass for the technically inclined. Amongst Velcro, pacemakers, microwaves, and Play-Doh; the NEAT glass joins ranks of the greatest scientific advances discovered by accident. The wacky design is perfect to direct harsh alcohol vapours away and tease out the more alluring ones. It’s a particularly good glass for people who are new to whisky and might be put off by the harsh ethanol smell.
What’s a Glencairn glass?
The Glencairn glass is made by Glencarin Crystal and we think it’s the gold standard of whisky vessels. Of course, that isn’t just out opinion. It is the first style of glass endorsed by the Scotch Whisky Association and it won the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2006. The shape is similar to the copita glass, but it’s shorter and has a more solid base. It’s also made of more thicker glass makes it feel more substantial in your hand. The size makes it easy to swirl the whisky to open it up and it’s a bit less flashy than the copita glass. It’s also easier to cradle in your hand to warm the dram. Our flat is stocked mostly with Glencairns.
If you go to a distillery and buy a Glencairn glass with their logo on the side, don’t put it in the washing machine. After a few washes, that cool souvenir will be indistinguishable from your other Glencairns. Trust us on this one.