The best glass for whisky
When you Google for 'Whisky glass', you get a whole batch of whisky sets for sale. Most often a set with a decanter and 4 big, heavy glasses with an intricate pattern etched on the sides. Or, if you add the word 'tasting' to the search query, you get a whole selection of Glencairn glasses. With, or without a lid. But then, when you start scrolling, there are so much more glasses that claim to be a whisky glass.
But what is the best glass for drinking whisky? I decided to do a test.
Battle of the whisky glasses
A small disclaimer before we start: I think and truly believe anyone should be able to enjoy drinking whisky in the way they prefer. So this test is not about choosing the best whisky glass in the world, it is the best whisky glass for the single malt snob. But you might find my way of testing useful and it might help you select the right glass for you.
I've selected 6 glasses for this test. These are just the type of glasses I had available for this test. There were two styles more, but they are very small glasses, meant for doing small tastings. Since they are not for daily drinking, I decided to leave them out.
On the picture are the competitors. From left to right:
A tumbler, a small wine tasting glass (Although it was used for whisky.), a copita glass, a Glencairn glass, a "little vase" and a cognac sommelier glass.
I did not know what type the fifth was, so I call it a little vase. (If you know the name of this type of glass, please let me know.)
Now, the test needs to be a fair one. So I'm using the same whisky in the same amount. I'm pouring a dram (25ml) of Morrison Black Label in each glass. This way the whisky does not influence the test. And, since this bottle scored so high (cough), I'm not hesitant to experiment with it.
The glasses can score 5 points, based on the following requirements I devised:
The ability to waltz your whisky around.
I like to do that to so I can see if the whisky leaves a line on the glass and if it gives me some tears to look at.
Handling / holding
The way the glass feels in my hand. The way it drinks.
Sniffing, guiding the aroma's
A double pointer to earn here: one for the smelling soon after the pour, and one point 15 minutes after the pour.
Easy to clean
Since I messed up some of my favorite glasses by using a dishwasher, I now hand wash my glasses to prevent dishwasher damage.
The tumbler - 2.5/5
The most famous whisky glass. You see it in series, movies and everywhere on the web if you search for whisky glass.
But right from the start things went downhill for this glass. The 25ml is barely visible in the glass. Never mind waltzing it around the glass. It felt like shaking a smoothie. And thanks to the carving on the sides, I could not spot the line at all.
Holding the glass feels nice, made me feel like Harvey Specter from Suits. But the amount of whisky felt miserable and I missed the clinking of ice cubes.
The first sniff on the glass gave me some aroma's, but mostly air. After 15 minutes, I got even less. Big plus: I just put the glass in the dishwasher when I was done!
Conclusion: I'm going to keep this one for a whisky on the rocks or for an old fashioned. Not the best glass for me for enjoying a dram.
Small wine tasting glass - 3.5/5
I found this glass somewhere and knew I had to add it to this test. I never used it for whisky before this test, but it was initially meant for it. (With the Classic Malts selection logo.) It might not show on the photo, but it is actually quite large.
It got the full point for waltzing the whisky around the glass, although it did feel like drinking wine. I had a good view on the line and tears. No argument, the first part went ok.
Drinking from this glass was pretty easy and it felt ok. However, something was not adding up. It felt like drinking whisky from just the wrong glass. Sniffing was ok, for the first one, but I lost many aroma's in the second after 15 minutes.
This glass survived the dishwasher afterwards, so it does get the point for easy cleaning as well!
Conclusion: Although it did get close on many aspects, I could not give it full points on everything. It just did not feel right. So, with apologies to this glass, it is never going to be used for whisky again.
The copita glass - 4/5
After the first two glasses in this test, this was the first glass that gave me some spirit on the nose. I forgot that could happen, so I needed a small pause after my first, rather enthusiastic sniff. The copita is actually one of the most common glasses you encounter when you visit a tasting or event. It has this great tapered shape that makes it ideal for swirling the whisky in the glass and sniff. It is also maintained some aroma's after 15 minutes of open air.
I like the way it feels and handles, although it feels like the glass could brake. While drinking, I realized the tapered opening is smaller than the previous glasses. I had to sip, not drink.
After drinking, I decided not to put this glass in the dishwasher. I had some bad experiences with that. Because this meant I had to wash it by hand, I found it not so easy to clean. It lost that point.
Conclusion: Great glass for tasting! I can see why it is used for many tastings. It stays.
The Glencairn glass - 4/5
Now, most readers must be some kind of whisk(e)y enthousiast and will be familiar with this glass. Developed to be the ultimate glass for tasting whisky, it has a bulbous belly and an inward tapered top. Like a chimney for all the aroma's. Not the first with the inward tapered opening in this test, it is the first with a small inward curve between belly and opening.
Although giving the whisky a twirl in this glass, the broad foot is very different to a stem like the copita has. I think it is just trying to find the right grip. It did give me the line and tears that I wanted to see. But holding it more horizontally made me hold the glass instead of the foot.
I like the way it drinks, and enjoyed the way it guides the nosing after the pour and a while after.
Now, I already knew what would happen with cleaning, since you cannot put this glass in the dishwasher. I did it previously and managed to give three of my glasses some serious damage to the glass. So handwash it is. And I do not enjoy doing that.
Conclusion, great glass. On an even place with the copita for me. Love the shape, the foot not so much.
The "little vase" - 1.5/5
To be honest, I thought this glass would score high in the test. It had the bulbous belly, tapered curve and then a wide rim. But it scored very poorly.
First of all, giving the whisky a twirl was me holding the glass from the top and tryin to make the right motion. I did get a nice line, but because I did not manage to waltz it in one motion, I shook it around rather than twirl it. The bottom of the glass, rather then being a bowl, is actually rather flat. Like the tumbler.
Secondly, the aroma. Full point for the first sniff, but where I thought the curve would hold some in, the second was gone.
Third: Maybe it is my fat nose, but the rim was uncomfortable on the tip of my nose. It made me press the rim in my nose and tilt my head backwards to drink, rather then tip the glass.
And finally cleaning: I placed the glass in the dishwasher, but the flat bottom kept waterdrops in some way. So taking it out, I had water spots. Could not reach it properly cleaning by hand.
Conclusion: Would not recommend, unless your nose is smaller than mine.
Cognac sommelier glass - 4.5/5
Now, As you can see on the photo, this is the smallest glass in the test. Look how big that dram looks! The glass itself has the same shape as the Glencairn, but smaller. Bulbous belly, inward curve and tapered opening. But is has a stem instead of a chunky foot. I got this glass somewhere and it has a faded logo of Joseph Guy Cognac on it. And I like it a lot.
First of all: Great lines and tears after an easy twirl holding the stem.
Aroma's great after pour and like the Glencairn and copita also great for the second time. Although I cannot put it in the dishwasher, I can easily clean this one by hand. Where I had trouble reaching the bottom with the Glencairn and the little vase, this one was easy because of its size.
Conclusion: I think we got my winner. I really like this glass for tasting whisky!
Maybe I should do this test again in the future. With more points to earn and even more glasses to test. Already I know I missed at least 2 different kinds to try. And doing it was quite fun. It took me a while, had to be hard and honest about glasses I really like and found it funny to see myself being inept with twirling some glasses.
For now the big winner is the cognac tasting glass. I like the smaller size en shape and the fact that is has a stem to hold. I know some whisky drinkers like to warm their dram a bit, but since I also have a set of Glencairns to use when that is needed, I can always switch.
If you have any questions about these glasses or want to suggest a different type or brand of glass, do not hesitate to reach out to me. Details can be found below.