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Raise a glass – but which one for which whisky?

Raise a glass – but which one for which whisky?

Whisky glasses are as varied as the whiskies they are designed to serve. The shape of each glass is tailor-made for a specific style, allowing you to savour the aromas, palate and flavour of your favourite whisky.


In this article, we’ll explore the different types of whisky glasses and how they enhance your whisky-drinking experience.

The copita-style glass

Based on the traditional Spanish copita sherry glass, this type of whisky glass was often referred to as a ‘dock’ glass, because merchants used it to taste whiskies at the docks, and it is still used today by connoisseurs of whisky who appreciate its unique shape.

This tulip-shaped vessel is perfect for capturing and concentrating aromas, making it ideal for enjoying single malts and blended whiskies. The reason is that the bowl and narrow lip funnel the aromas upwards, making it perfect for ‘nosing’, which is the process of swirling whisky around in the glass before smelling it.

This allows you to detect delicate aromas that you may not otherwise be able to pick up.

The Glencairn glass

Shorter than the copita glass but with a similar shape, the Glencairn glass is becoming increasingly popular for whisky tasting, due to its more robust base and thicker glass.

Designed by a group of five master blenders in 2001, this glass was created to allow all the flavours and aromas of whisky to be appreciated. It features a wide bowl which concentrates the aroma and a tapered mouth which directs the whisky onto the tip of the tongue.

The snifter glass

Traditionally used for cognac and brandy, the snifter glass has become increasingly popular for whisky tasting. Its wide bottom helps to aerate the whisky, releasing its aromas, while its narrowing top captures them simultaneously.

The short stem and large bowl also mean that the drinker’s hands warm up the whisky, while its wide brim allows room to swirl the liquid around.

The downside to the snifter is that the wide body and the heat of the drinker’s hands can release harsh ethanol vapours, which can mask the whisky’s delicate aromas and flavours.

The rocks glass

More commonly used for whisky cocktails than neat spirits, the rocks glass is a thick, heavy tumbler. Its large bowl helps to open up whisky flavours and aromas in cocktails made with ice and other ingredients, while its broad mouth allows for easy sipping.

However, when used for neat whisky tasting, the rocks glass does not provide enough aeration. It often results in an inferior tasting experience, so it’s best to avoid using this type of glass for neat whisky. 

The highball

The highball and its cousin the Collins glass, are the most common glasses used for whisky mixes like scotch and soda.

The highball’s cylindrical shape also encourages fizz and bubbles to remain suspended, meaning your cocktail will stay refreshingly carbonated for much longer than when in other types of glass’

The Collins glass is very similar to the highball, but it’s taller and narrower. This makes it ideal for drinks that contain many ingredients and need to be well-chilled, like the Tom Collins cocktail.

The NEAT whisky glass

An evolution of the effort that went into creating the Glencairn glass, the NEAT whisky glass is specifically designed to enhance your appreciation of straight spirits.

The unique shape of the NEAT whisky glass helps to trap and concentrate alcohol vapours while also controlling swirling. This provides an even distribution of aromas with every sip and allows you to really appreciate the finer points of a single malt.

The NEAT whisky glass is perfect for enjoying your favourite whiskey neat, straight or with a few drops of water.

Getting the right glass

In conclusion, the choice of glassware you use to enjoy your whisky will impact the drinking experience. For savouring single malts, the Glencairn and NEAT glasses are ideal for capturing the spirit’s aroma and letting you appreciate the flavour profile of your dram.

If you’d really like to spoil the whisky lover in your life this Christmas, then The Gran Collection of whisky glassware by luxury crystal maker Lucaris Crystal is a great gift. 

The Gran Collection glass set comes with four different glasses, each designed to enhance the tasting experience of whisky from different regions. They also look gorgeous on display in your home bar!

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