There’s no two ways about it. The best whiskey glasses enhance the whiskey drinking experience. I’m not heaven forbid, suggesting that if you don’t have one available you should forego the glass or two you were about to have. Whiskey drunk out of a paper cup is better than no whiskey at all. I’m merely pointing out that those conditions are less than optimal and that using the best whiskey glasses possible is the route to the perfect way to drink whiskey.
The reason why you need to ensure you use the best whiskey glasses possible is that without them you only have the taste of the whiskey. With them you also have the flavor. And if you thought the two were the same thing, then you’ve been missing out in your whiskey drinking. Let me quickly bring you up to speed with a little equation that will change your life forever:
Taste + Texture + Smell = Flavor
You’re welcome. If you want to show your appreciation, it should be obvious how to do so.
Nosing your whiskey before drinking it is important. It helps you sense aromas and flavors that you would have missed without it. The best whiskey glasses have a narrower shape to concentrate the aromas and let them accumulate rather than dissipate. If they’re really good they may start off wider at the bottom and then become more narrow so that the larger surface area and any subsequent swirling that a wider area naturally lends itself to, will let more air get to your whiskey, which increases the amount of ethanol that evaporates. This means that there will be less ethanol and more of the whiskey’s aromas reaching your nose and you’ll taste more of its flavor. The wide-then-narrow glass may widen again at the rim so that the flow of whiskey onto your tongue will be broader allowing you to taste more in one sip.
But these are only the best whiskey glasses if you want to get the most out of the whiskey’s dominant flavors. If you prefer your whiskey with ice to temper its intensity and calm the burn of the alcohol so that it becomes a bit more palatable, the best whiskey glasses for you will be those with a wider rim. The aromas will dissipate quickly but you’ll have enough room to fill your glass with ice cubes and reduce the temperature of your whiskey. Some people also like the fact that the taste of the whiskey changes as the ice cubes melt, because the water that’s now added to the whiskey will open up new and more subtle flavors. A large rimmed tumbler is best for enjoying this as you can fit one or two large or giant ice cubes inside, which, having less surface area than many smaller ice cubes will melt slower, adding only small amounts of water to your whiskey and giving you plenty of time to finish your drink before it becomes unreasonably diluted.
These whiskey glasses are heavier and more robust which is necessary if you prefer a whiskey cocktail and need to muddle the ingredients against the side of the glass.
And of course, for some people, the look, feel and design of the whiskey glasses is more important than anything else. You might think that the best whiskey glasses are of the finest, handblown, intricately designed, cut glass crystal that will look good both in your hand and as an item to be prominently displayed.
And so we arrive at the greatest conundrum of all time. If different people look for different things in their whiskey glass, or if one day I want to taste all the flavors and another I want a whiskey on the rocks, then what is the best whiskey glass for me?
Fortunately, the greatest conundrum has the greatest solution and it takes an example from whiskey itself. You don’t limit yourself to one type of whiskey, do you? So why limit yourself to one type of whiskey glass!
With all that in mind let’s look at some of the best whiskey glasses available.
Best Whiskey Glasses for Enhancing the Whiskey’s Flavor
The NEAT Whiskey Glass
The NEAT whiskey glass may look slightly odd, but it’s perfectly shaped with a bulbous body, which narrows before widening again at the opening, so that the lighter and harsher ethanol molecules are squeezed out of its opening while the heavier and desired whiskey molecules are left behind. It’s the official glass of 27 spirit competitions for over eight years and the choice of professional judges, so one of the best whiskey glasses for bringing out the most in your whiskey. The irony is that the NEAT – Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology – whiskey glass is not quite the feat of natural engineering its name suggests but in fact the happy result of a glass blowing mistake.
The Glencairn Whisky Glass
Another award-winning whiskey glass – the Queen’s Award for Innovation 2006 – the Glencairn whisky glass has a tapered mouth so that the aromas can be channelled to a narrow rim. The short base and stand is perfect for those who don’t like stems, but what really stands out is its simple elegance. There’s no denying, it’s a beautiful looking whiskey glass. Unless you don’t like simple elegance, in which case you can deny its beauty!
The Norlan Whisky Glass
The Norlan whisky glass combines a scientific design which brings out the best in your whiskey and an aesthetically pleasing look. It does this with a double wall so that the modern design of the outer wall is not dependent on the inner wall which is shaped to focuses the aromas to the nose while diffusing the ethanol away from your face. There are also protrusions at the bottom of the glass which create a wave shape when you swirl your whiskey for more surface to air ratio, so a higher rate of oxidization and more ethanol evaporating. This brings out the flavours and improves the taste of your whiskey. There’s a lot going on in this whiskey glass.
Taylor’d Milestones Whiskey Glass
The Taylor’d Milestones Reserve whiskey glass is similar in appearance to the Glencairn whiskey glass but it’s wider and shorter. The extra width means there’s more room for air to get to the whiskey and more room for swirling. There may even be room for ice. Being shorter gives it a more sturdy and less delicate appearance.
The Riedel VINUM Whiskey Glass
The elongated, thistle-shaped body of the Riedel VINUM whiskey glass helps to ensure the aromas don’t dissipate too quickly, but one feature it has that many other whiskey glasses do not, is a slightly out-turned lip for a broader flow of whiskey onto your tongue. This means you’re drinking more in one go and if you find yourself filling this whiskey glass up more often than others, you’ll know why. But you can pretend you don’t.
The Libbey Signature Whiskey Glass
The Libbey Signature whiskey glass has a number of the features seen in the previous whiskey glasses, but in addition, the company has innovated a unique ‘ClearFire’ glass formula which means the glasses they produce are stronger and clearer. This is perfect for admiring the rich colors of your whiskey and getting a good look at the whiskey’s legs – the post-swirl drips on the inside of your glass – which according to some experts can tell you about the strength and character of the whiskey you’re drinking.
The Schott Zwiesel Tritan Whiskey Glass
The Schott Zwiesel Tritan whiskey glass has a sculpted bowl that will bring out the aromas of your whiskey and a finely edged rim so that when you drink, you taste more of the whiskey than the glass. Additionally, the glass is made with titanium to make it stronger and zirconium for crystal clear clarity. A beautifully designed and stylish whiskey glass.
Best Whiskey Glasses for Adding Ice
The Bavel Whiskey Glass
The Bavel whiskey glass has a wider rim for when you want your whiskey with ice. It’s stemless, with a heavy base making them sturdy, durable and easy to hold. The clear glass with straight lines means you can see your whiskey perfectly. A simple and uncomplicated whiskey glass, it’s nonetheless as elegant as any – except for those that aren’t elegant at all.
The Venero Whiskey Glass
The first things to like about the large 10oz Venero whiskey glass whose size allows you to hold more whiskey in one go, is that it’s a large 10oz whiskey glass whose size allows you to hold more whiskey in one go. It also has thick walls which means your drink is insulated at your chosen temperature for longer. Since the point of any rocks glass is to cool the whiskey with ice, the ability to maintain that temperature for longer is a great feature. The thick sides and base also mean they’re less likely to break. Also, there’s also a unique twist to its design. Namely, that it has a unique twist design.
Red Rocks Whiskey Glass
Also 10oz, this whiskey glass from Red Rocks amazingly has a square base and round rim. Great for pretending everyone else has had too much to drink! They come with granite chilling stones so that you don’t have to use actual ice cubes and run the risk of unduly diluting your whiskey as they melt.
Mofado Whiskey Glass
Mofado make a premium oversized whiskey glass. They can hold 12oz (a very good argument for suggesting they’re a better whiskey glass than a 10oz whiskey glass) and are wide enough to hold oversized ice cubes. It’s a heavy glass with a thick weighted bottom. It’s handblown from lead free crystal so that the glass has maximum clarity and brilliance.
Best Designed Whiskey Glasses
Now obviously people will have different ideas about what should be considered the best-looking whiskey glass, but I think we can all agree, that every whiskey glass looks better when you put whiskey in it.
Maketh The Man Whiskey Glass
This Maketh The Man whiskey glass has sweeping lines in a style that blends a timeless design with a contemporary twist, so that you can sense the old-fashioned quality without being … well old-fashioned. Importantly the design of the glass does not obscure your view of the whiskey itself. The glass is made from brilliantly clear crystal causing them to sparkle.
The Circleware Tiara Optic Whiskey Glass
The Circleware Tiara Optic whiskey glass has an innovative design, style and form. The glass is thicker particularly at the flat base which makes it solid and sturdy, but still clear enough for you to see your whiskey. It also has a fancy name and a gold rim. Yes, you read that right. It has a gold rim. Oh, and by the way, it has a gold rim. Now I know that technically speaking the last two points were the same, but I thought it was so important that I ought to mention it twice.
The Cibi Blade Runner Whiskey Glass
This is a version of the whiskey glass used by Deckard in Blade Runner. No idea what I’m talking about, then you’ve got some catching up to do ASAP. Don’t read on. Go and watch blade runner. No, it’s not more important than whiskey itself. It has a square design with diagonal cuts at the angles, so even without knowing their 80’s sci-fi movie significance, they look gorgeous.
The Waterford Lismore Whiskey Glass
The Waterford Lismore whiskey glass is a glass by Waterford with their best-selling Lismore crystal pattern – an intricately detailed diamond and wedge cut. Crafted from the finest leaded crystal it combines a brilliant sparkle with clarity. It’s a great size and weight so that not only does it look stunning, it feels great in your hand. Without a doubt one of the best whiskey glasses out there.
The Marquis by Waterford Markham Crystal Whiskey Glass
This Marquis by Waterford Markham whiskey glass uses classic Waterford cuts on lead free crystalline. This means they are moulded out of the glass rather than cut out of the crystal, for those who want to avoid lead. Nonetheless, it’s a high quality, large glass with amazing clarity, and substantial weight. They look great too.
These are my picks for best whiskey glasses. But don’t take my word for it. Test them for yourselves. Thoroughly. It might seem like hard work at first, but with each test, you’ll find the work becomes increasingly pleasant.