This Norlan whisky glass review is divided into two sections. The first will look at the improvements these glasses are designed to have and whether they actually work (spoiler alert: yes, there is improved appearance and nosing – the last improvement, however, is completely unnecessary). The second will look at other issues and their impact (spoiler alert: negligible apart from the price, as is the case with most things).
Norlan Whiskey Glass
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Norlan Whisky Glass Review: Do the Improvements Actually Work
The three improvements are:
- They merge the look of whiskey tumblers with the function of nosing glasses.
- They defuse the ethanol vapors better and reveal more notes, so making the whiskey taste better.
- They reduce social isolation – yes, I had the exact same, ‘what on earth are they talking about’ reaction you’re having right now.
Let’s take a closer look.
They Merge the Look of Whiskey Tumblers With the Function of Nosing Glasses
The two main types of whiskey glasses serve different purposes. Nosing glasses are essential if you want to get the most out of the whiskey’s aromas and therefore its flavour, whereas whiskey tumblers allow you to add ice to cool your drink. The downside to nosing glasses is that their tulip-shape is not as cool as the shape and look of the heavier, straight sides and flat-bottomed, whiskey tumbler.
Norlan whisky glasses solve this problem by essentially putting a nosing glass inside a tumbler.
Two separate molds are blown from borosilicate glass, and one is inserted into the other creating a transparent double walled whiskey glass where one wall is a completely different shape to the other. The shape of the inner wall is conducive to bringing out the whiskey’s aromas while the shape of the outer wall is designed to be aesthetically pleasing.
Problem solved. Norlan whisky glasses do indeed have the form of whiskey tumblers while also allowing you to nose your whiskey. They are simple and beautiful whiskey glasses, and most definitely as cool as almost any whiskey tumbler.
Because while they might have the look of whiskey tumblers, they lack their heft and weight. This is due to the space between the inner and outer glass being hollow, which makes the whole glass lighter and more delicate. This is not a major problem in and of itself as most nosing glasses are lighter and more delicate. It’s just that they’re not the heavier and more durable whiskey tumbler and shouldn’t be treated as such. In replicating whiskey tumblers, the Norlan whisky glass succeeds in looks but not in weight or durability.
This will be a problem if you love the weight of whiskey tumblers. It also means when it comes to how you treat them, that you’ll need to be a bit more careful than if they were actual tumblers. If you want to use ice cubes, you’ll need to place them inside very carefully and you should definitely not use whiskey stones. To be safe I would only use Norlan whisky glasses for drinking whiskey neat. And despite being somewhat dishwasher safe, it’s probably better to only ever handwash them. This is Norlan’s own recommendation.
They Improve Nosing Glass Performance
Of course, exciting as a whiskey glass that merges the functionality of a nosing glass with the looks of a whiskey tumbler is, an improvement in aesthetics is nowhere near as important as an improvement on the ability to nose a whiskey and enhance its flavor.
As mentioned, Norlan whisky glasses are essentially two glasses, one inside the other. A nosing glass inside a tumbler. But the inner nosing glass has two design elements intended to improve the nosing and therefore the taste of your whiskey.
The first are the fins or protrusions at the bottom of the glass which causes a wave shape to form out of your whiskey when you swirl it. This increases the surface to air ratio and rate of oxidization. The upshot of this is that more ethanol evaporates than in other nosing glasses allowing you to more easily pick up the desired whiskey aromas.
The second design element that’s intended to improve the nosing is the shape of the inner glass. Like most nosing glasses, Norlan whisky glasses narrow as they rise but unlike most nosing glasses they also widen out at the top. This diffuses the ethanol away from your face so that it doesn’t, “punch you in the eyes, burn the nose and numb the taste receptors”. It’s obviously a lot easier to pick up the whiskey aromas when using nosing and tasting equipment that still functions due to not being attacked in the manner just described.
As for whether Norlan whisky glasses improve the nosing in practice and are better than other nosing glasses, the most accurate answer is that this varies from person to person and whiskey to whiskey. For many (people and whiskeys) it does seem that Norlan whisky glasses do a better job of dissipating the ethanol and letting you pick up the whiskey aromas than other nosing glasses, although some maintain that’s only true for higher proof or better quality whiskeys.
They Reduce Social Isolation
This is the claim: when you drink from a whiskey tumbler, its wide opening allows you to maintain eye contact with the people you’re socializing with when taking a sip, whereas a narrow nosing glass means you have to tilt your head up and back, forcing you to break eye contact with your companions. Nosing glasses change what should be a social drinking experience into an anti-social activity.
Norlan whisky glasses have eliminated this problem by not being quite as narrow as other nosing glasses. This way not only will the ethanol not hit you on the nose neither will the glass. (Well I thought that was funny.) Just as with a tumbler, you’ll be able to get your nose inside the glass and therefore not need to tilt your head as far back as you would with regular nosing glasses, and eye contact will not be broken.
When I first heard this, I thought it was ridiculous, but after much contemplation I came to realize that it was actually just as silly an idea as I had originally believed.
Now maybe I’m just nose-ist. Maybe it’s just me and my petite yet manly nose that doesn’t have a problem with more narrow nosing glasses. Maybe due to a lack of awareness I’m completely unsympathetic to the difficulties and indignities the more larger-nosed members of our society suffer when using narrow glasses as they are forced to resort to desperate head-tilting measures if they are to successfully drink their whiskey.
Or maybe we’re all capable of drinking normally from narrow glasses despite our differing nose sizes, and we live in a world where my nose is not particularly more compact than anyone else’s.
And even if I’m wrong and underestimating the severity of the issue, I’m not convinced that it’s anti-social to break eye contact with fellow drinkers for the amount of time it takes to sip your drink. In fact, the opposite is true and breaking and re-establishing eye contact repeatedly in social situations is a must, otherwise what you’re doing is called ‘staring’ and you’re just plain creepy. Breaking eye contact while taking a sip of whiskey is not anti-social but the perfect time for an eye contact break – even for those of us capable of maintaining eye contact while taking a sip of our drink.
Now there is one situation where it’s imperative that you don’t break eye contact when you take a sip of your drink, and that’s when you’re talking to someone you’re attracted to. This is not because you need to maintain continuous eye contact for the duration of your conversation (this has the opposite of your intended effect as I discovered to my dismay on several occasions) but because there’s something very flirtatious and intimate about maintaining eye contact in a moment when ordinarily you would break it. It is for these moments that this unique aspect of Norlan whisky glasses would come in handy for those who need it.
So while the loss of eye contact problem is indeed solved and you won’t have to tilt your head back at all when you use a Norlan whisky glass, I’m not convinced about the problem in the first place. l am pleased however, to have discovered, for those who need it, a dating tool.
Norlan Whisky Glass Review: Other Issues
Now let’s look at four other issues:
- The glasses seem fragile
- The glasses have a thick lip
- The double wall changes the look of the whiskey
- They’re more expensive than other whiskey glasses
The Glasses Seem Fragile
As explained earlier Norlan whisky glasses look like tumblers but lack their heft and weight. Not only that but they can appear fragile and look like they may easily break, which is a problem especially in light of the soon-to-be-discussed fact that they are more expensive than other whiskey glasses.
On the other hand, they do feel solid in your hand and it may be more a matter of appearance than real fragility. Either way it’s not as if you weren’t going to be more careful when handling glasses than say … something that’s not made of glass.
The Glasses Have a Thick Lip
Norlan whisky glasses have a thicker lip than other nosing glasses. This is due to the double wall created by having one glass inside another. It’s not necessarily a problem, after all whiskey tumblers also have a thicker lip and these glasses are attempting to imitate their look. On the other hand, a thin lip is preferable as you taste the whiskey rather than the glass, and as improving taste is also a function of the Norlan whisky glass there may be a slight issue.
The Double Wall Changes the Look of the Whiskey
There’s one more point to bear in mind regarding the double wall construction that’s both a positive and a negative. Since you’ll be looking at your whiskey through two walls, it will look darker and richer. On the one hand that’s great because your whiskey will look more attractive, but on the other hand it will be a problem if you want to use the color of the whiskey to judge its age. It’s not an insurmountable problem that can’t be overcome by simply lowering the glass and looking inside from above, but it’s an extra thing you’ll have to remember to do.
They’re More Expensive Than Other Whiskey Glasses
In fact, twice as expensive.
Although it may be worth it, to enhance the even more expensive liquid you’re placing inside them.
I suppose one could argue that since each Norlan whisky glass is made up of two glasses, a nosing glass inside a tumbler, they’re actually the same price as every other whiskey glass. On the other hand, one could also argue that at the end of the day it’s one glass that’s costs twice as much as a regular whiskey glass, and one can take one’s clever little smarty pants ideas and place them in a sun deprived area.
Norlan Whisky Glass Review: A Final Verdict
Now I know that I’ve been a bit harsh about the social isolation issue, but the truth is the other two improvements are more than enough to make these first-class whiskey glasses.
After all, any glass that improves the taste of the whiskey is a must for someone that … wants the taste of the whiskey to be improved. And yes, there may be variations where for some people and some whiskeys other glasses may be better, but once you find which whiskeys taste better for you in a Norlan whisky glass, you’ll never want to drink them from anything else.
And if you’re like me who was always disappointed that I had to choose between functionality and my preferred look, these hybrid glasses are a fantastic answer.
Norlan Whiskey Glass