Believe it or not, holding your whiskey glass the right way will enhance your drink, while holding it the wrong way could ruin it. Not only that, but the right way to hold your whiskey glass can change depending on what you want it to do and the type of whiskey glass you’re using. So here are all the ways to hold each type of whiskey glass and when to do so.
Whiskey nosing glasses should be held by the stem when you want to smell your whiskey, by the bowl when you want to warm your whiskey and by the base when you want to swirl your whiskey. Whiskey tumblers should be held by the base, and whiskey highballs and shot glasses should be held by the body.
The following table shows all the ways to hold each type of whiskey glass in a nutshell:
|Type of Whiskey Glass||How to Hold|
|Nosing glass||Stem, bowl or base|
In the rest of this article, I’ll explain each of these ways of holding a whiskey glass in more detail, and when to use them. And why holding them properly improves your drink whereas holding them in the wrong way could ruin it.
(As a side note, I wrote an article that explains the different types of whiskey glasses in more detail, which you can find here.)
The Proper Way to Hold a Whiskey Nosing Glass
As mentioned, there are actually several ways to hold a whiskey nosing glass and the right one will depend on what you want it to do. Let’s go through each of them one by one.
How To Hold a Whiskey Nosing Glass by The Stem
The way to hold a whiskey nosing glass by the stem is by placing your thumb on one side and two or three fingers on the other, depending on its thickness. The rest of your fingers can rest on the foot of the glass or hover gently in the air.
There are a few reasons why you should hold a whiskey nosing glass by its stem.
The first is because it keeps your hand and any accompanying smells (even nice ones) from coming too close to your nose and interfering with your ability to smell the whiskey. This is important because flavor is smell as well as taste – which is why people like to smell their whiskey. Picking up the wrong smells will, therefore, negatively affect the flavors you taste.
The second reason to hold a whiskey nosing glass by its stem is because it keeps your hand off the body of the glass. That way heat isn’t transferred from your hand to the glass causing the whiskey inside to become warm.
It also keeps any fingerprints off the glass so that you can see the whiskey inside. This is important because it’s possible to tell several things about a whiskey from its color, which will be more difficult to do if it’s distorted by smears on the glass. Even if you’re just admiring your whiskey’s beautiful golden, you’re not going to want to do so through a smudged and blurred glass.
Also, holding a whiskey glass by its stem makes everyone else think you know exactly what you’re doing.
Now you know the importance of holding a whiskey glass by its stem, it’s time to find the right whiskey glass for that. I wrote an article about some of the best whiskey glasses out there, which you can find here.
How To Hold a Whiskey Nosing Glass by The Bowl
The way to hold a whiskey nosing glass by the bowl is by placing your middle and ring finger under the bowl of the glass with the stem in the middle and gripping the bowl with your fingers.
Now I know what you’re thinking. This will cause heat to be transferred from your hand to the glass and warm up the whiskey inside, which is why you’re supposed to hold a whiskey nosing glass by the stem! However, if your whiskey has for some reason fallen below room temperature you will want to warm it up.
That’s because at lower temperatures flavor molecules are prevented from evaporating, which will cause your whiskey’s aromas and flavors to become muted. And if your whiskey is not chill filtered, it’s natural fatty acids, esters and proteins can undissolve, clump together, and make your whiskey cloudy.
Holding your whiskey glass by the bowl so that your hand warms your whiskey until it reaches room temperature, will cause its aromas to start evaporating and any clumps to redissolve in the alcohol, so that your whiskey is returned to its proper flavor and color state.
How To Hold a Whiskey Nosing Glass by The Base
The way to hold a whiskey nosing glass by the base is by placing your fingers underneath it and your thumb on the top. If when holding your whiskey glass this way you feel that your grip is a little loose, you can use a variation where your thumb and forefinger hold the bottom of the stem instead.
The base is the best place to hold your whiskey glass when swirling your whiskey. Swirling your whiskey lets more air get to it so that it can breathe, and some of the alcohol can evaporate. This is important because otherwise the alcohol will keep many of the flavors of the whiskey closed up and overpower any flavors that aren’t.
The lower your grip the bigger the swirl, so more air will get to your whiskey and more alcohol can evaporate. It also makes you look very cool indeed.
The Proper Way to Hold a Whiskey Tumbler
As mentioned, the way to hold a whiskey tumbler is by the base. To do this curl your four fingers around the base – you can even let your ring and little fingers slip underneath it, and with your thumb at the opposite end grip the glass.
There are a few reasons for holding a whiskey tumbler this way. The first is because whiskey tumblers are relatively heavy, so it’s easier and more comfortable to hold them by the base than anywhere else.
Whiskey tumblers are heavy because they’re made for drinking whiskey with ice cubes. Since putting ice cubes in glass can easily lead to the former breaking or scratching the latter, whiskey tumblers are made with strong walls and thick, weighted bottoms. This also insulates the contents of the glass from the heat coming from your hand or surface the glass is resting on, so that you don’t warm it up while trying to chill it.
Since the weight of a whiskey tumbler is not evenly distributed throughout the glass but instead disproportionately in the base, holding it by the body would make your grip somewhat unbalanced, and since there would be more downward pressure, less secure.
Another reason to hold a whiskey tumbler by the base is so that it doesn’t block your and other people’s view of the glass. Whiskey tumblers don’t have to be a specific shape and so have a lot of design flexibility. And although you can get plainer looking ones, you can also get very stylish whiskey tumblers, that gives the person holding them a certain amount of class and sophistication.
As long as everyone can see it.
The Proper Way to Hold a Whiskey Highball
As mentioned, the way to hold a whiskey highball is by the body. To do this curl your four fingers around one side of the body of the glass and your thumb around the other. It doesn’t matter if your palm is away from the glass or against it.
The reason for holding a whiskey highball glass this way is because of its height. Although like tumblers, the highball has strong sides and a thick, weighted bottom so it’s relatively heavy, there’s no need to hold it by the base as its height makes up for the unevenly distributed weight.
In fact, the opposite is true. Holding a whiskey highball by the base would make it unbalanced because it’s height would cause it to be top-heavy.
The reason why it doesn’t matter if your palm is away from the glass or against it is because highballs are used to drink whiskey cocktails and they usually have lots of ice, so you’re less interested in examining the color of your whiskey and don’t need to worry about warming the contents inside.
The Proper Way to Hold a Whiskey Shot Glass
As mentioned, the way to hold a whiskey shot glass is by the body. To do this curl your four fingers around one side of the body of the glass and your thumb around the other. You can even let your ring and little fingers slip underneath it if that’s more comfortable. Since whiskey shot glasses are so small, your palm should not be touching it.
The reason for holding a whiskey shot glass this way is because the point of drinking shots of whiskey is not to smell and taste all its aromas and flavors (so you don’t need to worry about the position of your hand and its effect on your whiskey), but to get alcohol into your body as fast as possible. That’s why shots are drunk quickly and in one gulp, and any other way of holding a whiskey shot glass will only slow that down.