The Glencairn whisky glass today and tomorrow – part two

let’s begin

In part one I spoke about the humble beginnings of the Glencairn whisky glass forged in the opinion that whisky was to be enjoyed from appearance to nose to palate and finish, rather than just held in a tumbler and sipped. Today I look at the Glencairn business of today and the future of the whisky glass.

A business, sure, but a family too – that’s what the backbone of the Glencairn whisky glass has been forged on.

“It’s amazing that people seem to collect them… we are the same, we have a sample of every one that has gone, especially from the early days but now we have run out of space! But our showroom has everything going back from the start with a wall of Glencairn glasses and packaging combinations” – Scott Davidson, Glencairn

Davidson tells me that “Glencairn started as a family business and now there are sixty people in the company, we are growing steadily as the industry grows and we feel that if we are not growing at the same rate as the whisky industry we would be doing something wrong. A big part of that is looking after our staff; we plan for people to be with us for the long term with a ‘jobs for life’ attitude with staff staying for many years and only leaving if a dream job comes up that they’ve always wanted to do. Some go thinking their dream job has just come up but come back as they were not having as much fun!”.

Glencairn currently has five designers, it is fundamental and core to their original values, as Raymond felt that they should always create things at Glencairn, not just put a label on something. They are not just a production facility, but always make sure a product is good enough for their customer, and, in turn, for their customers so design is key to everything they do, that creativity.

Scott Davidson, New Product Development Director told me that:

“[Raymond] started the business to improve the family’s quality of life, we had no idea it would go as far and wide as it has now. He would not have thought that we’d travel all around the world and have people knowing our brand and owning hundreds of what we have produced. We feel an immense pride to have created something influential in the whisky industry and we were lucky that it came out at the same time as whisky hitting the big time so it got our name out there. It also had the bonus of making lots of whisky companies who had headquarters in England stand up and taken notice of who we were which got the glasses into all the distilleries in Scotland”

But what is the future of the whisky glass industry 

Scott told me that “[they] have been making custom glassware for whisky companies for years, including non-Glencairn glasses such as bespoke glassware for Johnnie Walker Blue and Glenmorangie, and it was a really uninteresting industry for glassware until we released the Glencairn whisky glass but now I think it is wonderful to see people getting backing and financial support to create new glasses for people to drink whisky in different ways”.

“It is great to see others taking new approaches to aroma and whisky enjoyment. It really is a creative experience with lots of innovation going into concepts and design, it is mad what some of them are doing but it is fascinating for us and lovely to see. The crystal industry declined significantly in the 90s and early 2000s, but there has been a massive boost to the industry in recent times which is only great for everyone involved”.

“Counterfeiters are less interesting! I wish they would come up with their own ideas, but that’s the downside and thankfully is not too prevalent”, he laments.

So where next then for the Glencairn whisky glass?

“I think Glencairn has done really well, and we have been very fortunate to have seen this success but the glass is only one product in our portfolio. We have spent forty years designing and decorating glassware and decanters for the whisky industry and we think the name will be around for a long time to come. All the other areas of the business are growing at a similar rate to the glass, as well as working in other categories such as vodka and tequila so we continue to be on a fantastic journey with new innovative products. It is quite mad; most people just see the glass and think it is 90% of what we do, whereas it is not the case at all… in America for example they still want the traditional crystal tumblers we supply Woodford Reserve and others”.

Long may their brilliance and their growth continue; I’m a huge fan of the Glencairn whisky glass, which happens to be the Official Whisky Glass of GreatDrams too.

How many Glencairn whisky glasses do you have, and what’s the most unique or most random?

Tags: GlencairnGlencairn Whisky Glasswhisky glass
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My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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