Drinkers, Pick Your Glass(es)!

Chances are some of your first instances of whiskey drinking involved a shot glass. Mine certainly did! However, like in the world of wine, there are actually many options for whiskey glassware, each with their own unique look and purpose. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most common whiskey glass options and their uses, shall we?

Shot – small, stemless, round or square, pretty basic and used for ingesting alcohol as quickly as possible. Great for getting shwasty faced at bars when you’re 21; leaves much to be desired when actually drinking to enjoy the spirit.

Rocks – also known as a Tumbler, Lowball, or Old Fashioned. This glass is a workhorse for the drinker, being used for neat sipping, adding ice (great for showing off those fancy spheres), or holding classic cocktails, which can be built right in the glass. They range in style from simple, lightweight, and unadorned to very heavy, cut crystal glass pieces, excellent for adding a world of ambiance and sophistication. Depending on your personal style, it can really elevate your enjoyment and overall drinking vibe, but it isn’t ideal for nosing.

Highball – similar to the Rocks glass, but taller. This is a glass connected to that classic drink, the Scotch and Soda. It’s taller stature allows for plenty of ice, spirit, and mixer, encourages sipping over a longer period of time, and is actually quite popular in Japan.

Snifter – along the lines of a cut crystal rocks glass in terms of possible pretentiousness, the Snifter has its roots in the Cognac and Brandy world, but is now a common favorite for those who indulge in a cigar as they sip. The large bowl with short stem is ideal for indolent swirling, but the characteristics that make this a great show off piece also encourage the release of harsh alcohol vapours which can overpower the more delicate aromas in the whiskey.

Copita – now we’re getting into tasting glasses proper. This tulip shaped glass is preferred by industry professionals, particularly when on site (such as when tasting directly from the barrel or the spirit safe). The Copita has a thin stem and the bowl is a simple tulip shape, allowing for concentrated aromas, swirling, and holding the bowl of the glass to warm the liquid.

Glencairn – While a seeming staple of the whisky connoisseurs glassware cabinet, it only appeared on the market as recently as 2001. It is similar to the Copita glass, but instead of a stem it has a rounded pyramid-esq base and the bowl shape has more curves. This is a robust glass, great for learning to swirl, and often used for professional tasting events.

NEAT – standing for Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology, the NEAT glass, as the name suggests, was engineered for ideal aroma appreciation. Its peculiarly flared out top directs harsh ethanol aromas away from the nose, leaving behind the heavier and more desirable aromas in the squat bowl. While excellent for nosing, actually tasting the whiskey can be a bit tricky.

Túath – if a Copita, a Glencairn, and a NEAT all had a wild night of whiskey together, the Túath was the result. It has a fancy base, a very slight stem, and the bowl is almost a tulip shape but then has that sharper flair out reminiscent of the NEAT. Created to be used with Irish whiskey (its unique base was inspired by the Irish landscape of Skellig Michael), the glass allows for seamless transition from nosing to tasting, with the bowl concentrating the aromas while the opened top facilitates harsh ethanol notes to dissipate.

Norlan – some are calling it the New Age Glencairn, the Norlan was designed to capture whisky’s complex aromas and flavours and “deliver them to the senses like never before.” While its square bottom and rounded sides are vaguely reminiscent of a candle holder, this “nature inspired, digitally crafted” glass has 2 hand-blown walls; the outside is aesthetically pleasing and the inside is said to be scientifically performing, making for a perfect whisky drinking experience. It even comes with a microfiber polishing cloth. 

Denver and Liely – created to combine the best elements of a tumbler and a snifter, this glass was ranked by Forbes as the best whisky glass in the world (2019). Its squat but fluid handmade crystal design provides accurate aromas and flavours due to its airflow, temperature control, and palate delivery. They also have a specially designed Bourbon glass.

So there you have it; there’s a whiskey glass for any and all occasions. No matter which glass or glasses you prefer to utilize, I hope you’re enjoying whatever’s inside them. Cheers!


Published by juliamenn

Performer. Artist. Author. Lover of food and travel. Animal enthusiast. Avid reader. Globe-trotter.

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