The 10 Best Whiskey Glasses
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in January of 2017. If you've been sipping your scotch or whiskey out of plastic cups, you're missing out. A proper set of drinkware designed for your spirit of choice can bring out complex flavors and aromas you never knew were there, whether you're enjoying a fine single malt or a bargain blend. From basic, no-frills options to fancy crystal glasses, there's something on our list for everyone. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 14, 2021:
Whiskey glasses come in all shapes and sizes, as evidenced by the wide variety of designs in our recommendations. And the truth is, that the type of glass someone prefers is often just as personal of a choice as which particular liquor they like to put inside of it. With this in mind, we made sure that there is something here for everyone, whether you like a basic, no-frills option like the Schott Zwiesel Basic Bar, or something with a bit more fanfare, such as the lavish Waterford Lismore Double Old Fashioned.
With the goal of introducing a bit more variety, we decided to eliminate the Ashcroft Twist, which, while quality glassware, was just a bit too similar to the Whiskoff Gift Set. We chose to keep the former because it is paired with chilling stones, coasters, and tongs, which are items every aficionado can appreciate, and it comes in a beautiful wood box.
During this update, we also removed the Sagaform Rocking. Though an interesting option, we find that the unbalanced design that allows for the motion in the name can make many people a bit nervous to set them down, and for some, overly tempted to spin them, which often results in a spilled beverage. In their place we have added the Dragon Glassware Diamond. These offer a similar experience in that they sit at an angle, however they are considerably more stable. Plus, they have the added benefit of an angular shape and two small protrusions on the inside that help to aerate the liquor as it is poured inside, releasing more depth of flavor and smoothing out that harsh edge some whiskeys have.
May 20, 2019:
Many glasses claim to enhance the flavor and aroma of spirits, but few do it as well as the Set of 4 by Glencairn. Unlike most traditional nosing glasses, it has a tapered mouth that's easy to sip from, but still captures all the underlying notes in the bouquet, and the thick, solid base is comfortable to hold. The Riedel Vinum has a similar shape, but its rim is flared outward to help direct the contents onto the tip of your tongue in order to better taste the sweetness of high-end whiskeys. The Waterford Crystal Lismore is a pricey, but very well-made, option from one of the most famous names in glassware. It has a classic shape that fits well in the hand, along with an intricate pattern that gives you a better grip.
The Schott Zwiesel Basic Bar has a simple, minimalist look that will fit in with any style of decor, and it's made from high-quality Tritan crystal that won't scratch or become cloudy from being cleaned in the dishwasher. For those who like their whiskey chilled, the James Bentley Luxury and Peugeot Impitoyable are both designed to keep beverages cool for longer, and the Whiskoff Gift Set comes with a set of chilling stones that won't water down your drink like ice.
Steuben Tortoise Old Fashioned The Steuben Tortoise Old Fashioned has an intricate design and each one is meticulously cut and polished by hand to ensure the utmost quality. It has the heft you only get from pure crystal, and is available in a single or double option. steuben.com
Suisei Kiriko Whiskey Glass Handmade in Japan by craftsman, the Suisei Kiriko Whiskey Glass is a beautiful addition to any connoisseur's bar. It has an unusual uneven rim that gives it a character not found in many others, especially when paired with the interesting swirled texture of the exterior. luxygoods.com
A Drink For All The Senses
Perhaps fraternity life would get a boost in perceived class, but the rest of us would suffer.
Good whiskey is a complete sensory experience. Obviously, taste is paramount, with the bouquet of a given pour pulling up a close second. The way it feels on the palette, its gentle thickness, is as unmistakable as its welcome bite. Even the sight of the spirit, its deep amber color gently filtering the warm light of your study or your favorite whiskey bar, is enough to make an aficionado weak in the knees.
What about sound, though? You could listen for the hushed thud of the cork as you unstop the bottle. Perhaps the sound of the pour pleases you. More than these, however, few sounds in the human experience convey smoothness and satisfaction like the clink of an ice cube in a glass of whiskey. While the finest among these dark, complex spirits are often consumed neat, a glass of scotch on the rocks carries with it a kind of cultural weight that neat whiskey does not.
The likelihood is that this cultural significance comes to us from our media. Foley artists and sound designers seem to have as much fun creating beautiful, crystalline ice sounds in characters’ drinks as they do filling action movies with unrealistic and unnecessary gun noise. It’s not because these sound designers don’t know what the real world sounds like; it’s because they use sound to help build the parameters of their worlds.
If characters drank all their whiskey out of red plastic disposable cups, there’d be a lot less sound and a lot less romance around it. Perhaps fraternity life would get a boost in perceived class, but the rest of us would suffer. Thankfully, a world of whiskey consumption — both on screen and off — has provided us with a litany of available glasses that can accommodate orders neat, on the rocks, or otherwise.
A Glass In The Hand
The act of choosing a whiskey glass is an intensely personal one, as your style will have a lot to do with your selection. There are ornate crystal glasses on the market, as well as simple rocks glasses and others with innovative shapes and artistic flourishes. There’s nothing wrong with picking a set of glasses simply based on its aesthetics. If you’re a discerning whiskey drinker, however, it might be worth considering the intentions behind the design.
Let’s start out by looking at the more traditional rocks glass.
Let’s start out by looking at the more traditional rocks glass. These glasses comfortably hold a few ounces of your favorite whiskey, with ample room for the addition of ice or other ingredients. Their walls tend to be very thick, and their bottoms tend to be rather heavy. This heavy-bottomed design will come in handy if you get a little overzealous in your spirit sampling, as it makes it more difficult to accidentally knock over the glass.
You’ll also notice glasses on the market that have more bulbous bottoms and rims that taper inward toward the top. These glasses sometimes have stems, and they aren’t intended to serve anything other than neat whiskey. It’s their tapered shape that gives these glasses their advantage, however, as any movement of the whiskey in their wide bases will funnel aromas upward to the rim. There, you can take them in in their full, concentrated complexity.
For drinkers who prefer their whiskey on the rocks, there are glasses available to help you with your swirling action. Occasionally, ice cubes can stick to the bottom of a more traditional rocks glass, which can cause your swirl to get out of control and send some of your drink flying out of the glass. To prevent this, some glassmakers will mold a peak of glass into the serving area. This peak keeps your ice off of the glass’s floor and at an angle that better facilitates clean and effective swirling.
Knowing how you like your whiskey will go a long way toward telling you which category to explore more deeply. If you’re anything like me, it varies. I like my Irish on the rocks in a tumbler, my bourbon and rye neat in a rocks glass, and my scotch in anything crystal, with a few drops of water. More objectively, scientists Björn C. G. Karlsson and Ran Friedman concluded that certain spirits take specifically better to water than others, and you're welcome to peruse their study and make use of their findings. Of course, if you’ve got to have that drink, but your glasses haven’t arrived yet, remember that whiskey always comes in a nice big glass all its own — one that just oozes high class: the bottle.
A Brief History Of Whiskey
Modern humanity is exceptionally good at finding ways to have fun. There doesn’t seem to be an invention in recent history that hasn’t been adopted for the purposes of tomfoolery. Whiskey is notorious among these inventions, as its predecessor was never intended as a party favor.
In Ireland, where whiskey was born, the first historical mention of the glorious drink is a sad one.
Early distillations of alcohol grew out of the wine making process in Europe around the 13th century C.E. The product of this distillation was known as aqua vitae, and it was used primarily for medicinal purposes. Of course, humans being humans — and given the knowledge that the spirit originated as a wine —, it wasn’t long before people began drinking the stuff for recreation.
In Ireland, where whiskey was born, the first historical mention of the glorious drink is a sad one. It seems that the death of a chieftain in the early 15th century was credited to “taking a surfeit of aqua vitae” at some point during the Christmas holiday.
From there, the popularity of the drink never waned, though it was forced underground by a number of laws and taxes throughout the centuries. Thankfully, the meritocracy that is free-market capitalism has given us some of the tastiest, most inviting whiskey to date, with no sign of any restrictions on the horizon.