A Guide To Whiskey Glasses – A Quick Overview

Introduction to whiskey glasses

Only with the right whiskey glasses, the tasting of whiskey will be a real pleasure. The glasses come in different shapes and sizes. Choosing the right one depends not only on the whiskey itself but also on the chosen drinks like on the rocks, pure, mixed or cocktails. The glasses are influencing the taste and smell. So this guide should give an overview of the glass types and how they make the difference. The most common whiskey glasses are listed below:


The whiskey tumbler

A Guide To Whiskey Glasses - The whiskey tumbler

The whiskey tumbler is the classic and the most common of all whiskey glasses. The tumbler glass is also known as the old-fashioned glass, the lowball or the rocks glass. Common to all tumbler glasses are their compact shape, often they are almost the same width as they are high. The opening of the glass is wide: no comparison to a nosing glass, which is curved more like a tulip and thus only slowly reveals the aromas.

A good whiskey tumbler is almost always characterized by its thick glass base: this stores the coldness of the ice cubes contained in the glass and thus ensures that the drink stays cool longer. Now, of course, a spirit can also be enjoyed from a tumbler glass with a thin bottom, but the cooling effect lasts longer and the ice melts faster. A good tumbler glass is not too small: Many copies have a capacity of around 300 ml – this is perfect because, in addition to the whiskey, a good amount of ice also fits into the glass. Even those who want to mix cocktails or drinks will appreciate the extra space.

The whiskey tumbler is not for single malt fans who want to organize a tasting. It is for everyone who likes to enjoy a nice cool after-work drink, a drink with friends in a sociable group, at a celebration or party. The tumbler glass is a welcome guest there and can be used in a variety of ways.

The highball

A Guide To Whiskey Glasses - The highball

The highball glass is the taller version of the tumbler glass, which is also known as the lowball glass. It is used to serve highball cocktails and other mixed drinks. It is most commonly used for cocktails served on the rocks, often with a high ratio of non-alcoholic mixer to spirit. The name is derived from the classic Highball cocktail, which is a simple combination of scotch whiskey and soda water.

The snifter

A Guide To Whiskey Glasses - The snifter

This glass is also known as the cognac glass, the brandy bowl or the balloon. The snifter is a large, bulbous glass with a thick stem that enables it to stand firmly. At the top, the glass does not taper as sharply as a nosing glass. This type of glass can often be seen in old crook films in which the protagonist delicately drinks cognac, Armagnac or brandy from a giant swivel. You don’t hold it on a stick, but with the whole palm of your hand on the bowl. So you can quickly temper the glass content correctly to perceive aromas even more clearly. It is mostly used to serve aged brown spirits such as bourbon, brandy, and whiskey.

The tulip-shaped glass

A Guide To Whiskey Glasses - The tulip-shaped glass aka copita

This glass is also known as the dock glass or the copita-style glass. It is based on the old traditional Spanish glass, the copita, that is used for tasting sherry. It is commonly used for cognac, brandy, and single malt whiskey. The flowing shape is designed to help you smell the whiskey better. The bottom is slightly wider and narrows near the top to help push the scent to the top.

The smelling of the whiskey is supported by the optimized tulip shape, which keeps the flavors of the whiskey in the glass for as long as possible and then slowly releases them. The long stem has the purpose to keep the hand further away from the nose so that no additional scents will disturb the smell of the whiskey. The glass can be easily warmed by hand if desired. This helps further to get all the nuances of a single malt whiskey.

The Glencairn whiskey glass

A Guide To Whiskey Glasses - Glencairn whiskey glass

The Glencairn whiskey glass uses the same principles as the tulip-shaped glass. It is probably the most famous among the whiskey glasses. It is often described as the perfect whiskey glass and hailed “The  Official Whiskey Glass”.

The Glencairn Glass was designed by a host of Master Blenders in Scotland. It is a tulip-shaped tumbler with a foot. The aroma is captured in the bulbous area and transported to the nose, but the foot, which acts as a handle, does not change the temperature of the whiskey. The short and thin stem is perfect for swirling the whiskey in the glass, allowing it to get some oxygen and to release the flavors of the whiskey for the fullest appreciation.

The NEAT whiskey glass

A Guide To Whiskey Glasses - The NEAT whiskey glass

The name for the NEAT glass is actually an acronym that stands for “Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology”. The idea of the NEAT glass is to separate the harsh smell of alcohol from the finer flavors. So it eliminates nose burn and numbness and allows one to smell the true aromas of the whiskey. The unusual shape can make it more tricky to hold and drink from it though.

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