There are several types of whiskey glasses, some of which have several different names. Fortunately, the reason behind each name makes sense, which makes it fairly easy to remember them all. Here are the different types of whiskey glasses and all the names by which they’re called.
A whiskey tasting glass is called a nosing glass, a snifter, a tulip glass or a copita. A whiskey glass for adding ice is called a tumbler, a rocks glass, a lowball or an old fashioned. A tall glass for drinking whiskey cocktails is called a highball and a short glass for drinking whiskey shots is called a shot glass.
The following table shows all the names of each type of whiskey glass in a nutshell:
|Type of Whiskey Glass
|Whiskey tasting glass
|Nosing glass, snifter, tulip glass, copita
|Whiskey glasses for adding ice
|Tumbler, rocks glass, lowball, old fashioned
|Tall glass for whiskey cocktails
|Short glass for whiskey shots
Each name refers to a different aspect of the whiskey glass, which is why they’re called by so many different names. In the rest of this article, I’ll explain them all.
(As a side note, I wrote an article that explains the different types of whiskey glasses in more detail, which you can find here.)
What A Whiskey Tasting Glass Is Called and Why
As mentioned, a whiskey tasting glass is called a nosing glass, a snifter, a tulip glass, or a copita, and here’s why.
Why A Whiskey Tasting Glass Is Called A Nosing Glass
A whiskey tasting glass is called a nosing glass because it helps you smell your whiskey. Smelling or nosing whiskey is important because flavor is smell as well as taste, so without smelling your whiskey and picking up all its aromas, its flavors will be somewhat muted.
Whiskey nosing glasses help you smell your whiskey through its shape – a wide bowl and a long narrow neck. The wide bowl provides room for air to get to the whiskey so it can breathe. This allows some of the alcohol to evaporate – so it doesn’t numb your nose and plate preventing you (temporarily) from smelling anything at all. Less alcohol also means more of the whiskey’s flavors opening up and more aromas to smell.
The long narrow neck causes the whiskey’s aromas to concentrate towards the narrow rim where they can accumulate – instead of dissipating, and you can easily pick them up.
The most popular whiskey nosing glasses are:
- The Glencairn Whisky Glass
- The Norlan Whisky Glass
- The NEAT Glass
I have written a more detailed article about the best whiskey glasses out there, which you can find here.
Why A Whiskey Tasting Glass Is Called A Snifter
A whiskey tasting glass is called a snifter for pretty much the same reason that it’s called a nosing glass. According to some, the obsolete Scottish verb ‘snift’ means to sniff and is borrowed from snuff-taking and how it’s inhaled, which has something to do with smelling – something that as explained, is very important when it comes to drinking whiskey.
The difference between snifters and other nosing glasses is that they’re wider so that when they’re held horizontally their contents don’t spill out, and shorter for more sturdiness.
Why A Whiskey Tasting Glass Is Called A Tulip Glass
A whiskey tasting glass is called a tulip glass because its shape is similar to that of a tulip. That means – like all whiskey tasting glasses, a wide bowl and long narrow neck, although the bowl of some tulip glasses is not as wide.
Of course, the reason for the tulip shape is so that some of the alcohol can evaporate and the whiskey aromas can accumulate – only the name ‘tulip glass’ refers to the shape of the whiskey glass, whereas the name ‘nosing glass’ refers to what you do with it.
Why A Whiskey Tasting Glass Is Called A Copita
A whiskey tasting glass is called a copita because it’s the traditional, Spanish, tulip shaped sherry glass that whiskey nosing glasses are based on.
What A Whiskey Glass for Ice Is Called and Why
As mentioned, a whiskey glass for adding ice is called a tumbler, a rocks glass, a lowball or an old-fashioned and here’s why.
Why A Whiskey Glass for Ice Is Called A Tumbler
No one really knows why a whiskey glass for ice is called a tumbler. However, one theory is that originally, tumblers had a round bottom so when placed on a table they would fall or tumble over and spill their contents.
Although it may seem like a huge design flaw to make a glass for containing liquid in such a way that it guarantees it’s spilt, the point of it may have been to ensure the drinker had finished the contents of his glass before putting it down. Ironically, it seems that using a glass that will definitely spill your drink is the best way to prevent it from happening.
One of the amazing things about present day tumblers is the variety of their designs. You’ll find plain whiskey tumblers and whiskey tumblers with a diamond and wedge cut. You’ll find round whiskey tumblers, square whiskey tumblers, oval whiskey tumblers and twisted whiskey tumblers. You’ll even find tumblers with a round bottom that tilt from side to side!
Tumblers can be some of the most unique whiskey glasses out there, and I wrote an article with 15 of my favorite ones which you can find here.
Why A Whiskey Glass for Ice Is Called A Rocks Glass
A whiskey glass for ice is called a rocks glass because you can put ice cubes or rocks in them. Obviously, you can put ice cubes in any glass, but it best to put them in a rocks glass for the following reasons.
Their wider (than the narrow-necked nosing glass) opening allows you add one or two large or even giant ice cubes which, with less surface area than many smaller ice cubes of the same volume, melt slower, so you don’t have to worry as much about your whiskey becoming diluted quickly.
Rocks glasses are also less likely to be damaged. Their stronger sides and thicker bottoms prevent the ice cubes from breaking or scratching the glass – something that can easily occur with the more delicate and fragile nosing glasses.
Their thicker sides and bottom also insulates the contents of the glass from the heat coming from your hand or surface the glass is resting on. That way, you don’t also warm your whiskey while you’re trying to chill it.
Why A Whiskey Glass for Ice Is Called A Lowball
A whiskey glass for ice is called a lowball because it’s a shorter version of the highball (which we’ll get to in a moment). Some whiskey cocktails are smaller than others and don’t need to be served in a very large glass.
They do, however, need to be served in glasses with a strong side and thick bottom. That’s because many of these cocktails are served with ice cubes and as mentioned, the sides and bottom of the lowball are strong enough that they won’t be damaged by them and thick enough that they’re insulated from any extra heat.
They’re also strong enough that if the cocktail is built inside the glass, you can muddle the ingredients against the base without worrying about it breaking.
Why A Whiskey Glass for Ice Is Called An Old Fashioned
A whiskey glass for ice is called an old fashioned because of the most famous drink to be served in them, namely the old fashioned. The old fashioned is a whiskey cocktail made by muddling sugar with bitters and water, adding ice and whiskey, an orange slice or zest garnish and a cocktail cherry. An old fashioned is traditionally served … in an old fashioned (see what I did there).
What A Whiskey Glass for Cocktails Is Called and Why
As mentioned, a tall glass for drinking whiskey cocktails is called a highball and this is because of the most famous drink to be served in them, namely the highball – a mixed drink composed of an alcoholic base spirit and a larger proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer, for example a Scotch and soda.
What A Whiskey Glass for Shots Is Called and Why
As mentioned, a short glass for drinking whiskey shots is called a shot glass. That’s because a ‘shot’ refers specifically to a small drink of spirits that you drink quickly and in one gulp. Shot glasses are the small glasses used to contain them.