Whisky Glassware – What’s it all about and just how important is glass shape to taste?

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What whisky glassware do you drink out of? More specifically, what do you drink whisky out of? Before writing this article I had never thought about the way I drink whisky, but as it turns out, there are many different options of whisky glassware and each has a different affect on the drink. It is worth investing in a good set of whisky glasses as it enhances the flavour of the dram itself, as well as creating an all round more enjoyable experience. Here is list of the various glasses I found and what each does for your whisky.


This is the most common glass used for drinking whisky and is usually what is used in bars and restaurants. These are most likely to be heavy based with straight walls and a wide rim. While they are comfortable and easy to hold, tumblers do not do anything to enhance the nose of a whisky. They are completely open and do not hold any of the scent and therefore do not allow for a full whisky tasting experience. However, they keep the whisky well oxygenated due to their openness and are good for their ease of use when in a busy bar.


This glass is used by the professionals in the whisky industry, as well as by those who consider themselves whisky connoisseurs. The snifter has a short stem that allows the user to swirl their whisky, releasing all the various flavours and smells into the air. The nose of the whisky is trapped in the tulip shaped wall, allowing drammers to get a good scent of their whisky of choice. The circumference is also usually very wide, which allows for oxygenation as well as for the whisky to breath. This is a good glass for those who seek an in depth whisky tasting experience.

The Glencairn whisky glass sets the standard for all others. It is used in distilleries across the world and has become the unofficial tasting glass of the single malt. It has a shorter, thicker stem than the Snifter, giving the user a firm grasp and a better swirl. It also has similar tulip shaped walls to the Snifter, but these extend further and become straight. This works to focus the aromas of the whisky. The nose of the liquid is gathered in the body of the glass and then pointed straight through an opening that narrows to bring the different elements together. This glass is perfect for true appreciators of whisky who want to taste the good stuff like a professional.

One of the most common ways to drink whisky is in the form of a highball. This is basically a mixer with whisky as the spirit of choice. Ice is also an important component of the highball, and this tall glass allows for all the ingredients to mix well with each other and the ice. The size of the highball glass means it is best used for mixing as it holds a lot and provides an ease of use as it is comfortably held. While this glass is definitely not for appreciating whisky on its own merits, since it provides no nose and is most commonly used for cocktails, it does allow a good dram to be appreciated as part of collective mix.

The Shot Glass. This is the mascot of students and partiers everywhere for an instant fix of their favourite tipple, and of course, whisky is no exception. Found in bars, nightclubs and Students’ Unions all around the country, it is hard to say how the shot glass changes the taste of whisky. Except for that it doesn’t. It is a simple straight walled glass that fits only a small amount of whisky and does not leave any room for a nose. Although to be honest if you choose a shot glass as the best way to appreciate whisky, I don’t think a good dram is really what you have in mind!

What is your favourite whisky glassware?

Tags: DrinkWirewhisky glasswear


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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