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Which glass should you drink whisky from?

October 5, 2022

Glassware is an important factor in whisky enjoyment, a great choice of whisky glass can enhance your drinking experience by not only changing your perception of the liquid and its palette, but also by being stylish to look at. Let’s start with how the shape of the glass affects flavour.

Whisky is an alcoholic drink, produced with peated or unpeated malted barley, fermented, distilled in copper stills and matured in oak barrels, this lengthy production process creates chemical compounds, which we will call “aromatics” that define the profile of each individual single malt.

The aromatics are tiny volatile, and non, particles that along with ethanol are perceived when enjoying the nose of your favourite whisky. The shape of the glass chosen can play a big part in the reception of these aromas, as the particles will travel differently depending on the size of the glass and its rim, and could travel quicker in a bigger tumbler than in a nosing glass, resulting in two very different experiences while sampling the same dram.

Whisky Glasses

Choosing a whisky glass is a complicated task, with more shapes and designs available, so what should you focus on?

Material: glass and crystal are the perfect materials to consider in the choice of your new whisky vessel, the clarity of these will allow no flavour contamination if cleaned correctly, and the transparency will enhance the colour of your dram, because the eye also wants its part!

Size: the base of the glass will increase/ decrease the aeration, pouring spirits from the bottle into a larger vessel exposes the alcohol to air both during pouring and while it sits in the glass. Spirits such as blends, bourbons and brandy are served as a small amount in a large glass to allow the drinker to swirl the alcohol around in the glass without spilling. Usually, single malts are preferred in smaller glasses to allow gradual aeration and enjoy the development of the spirit with a slower exchange, but the swirling in glass allows oxygen to come into contact with more liquid and release a little more of the aromas of the alcohol, to enhance the drinking experience.

Style: with more designs and styles to choose from, there is a glass for every whisky drinker. And with whisky being a versatile drink, which can be enjoyed in many ways, the first question to ask yourself is, how do I enjoy my whisky?
If the answer is with ice, “or on the rocks”, the selection is streamlined to only a couple of options:

Kilchoman tumbler whisky glass

Tumblers:  The large neck of this glass allows multiple ice cubes to be added to your favourite drink, and one of the biggest ones in terms of capacity – varying from 200ml to 400ml, but it can vary, so make sure you have a pourer on hand! This is one of the few options without a stem, as it is mainly associated with drinking whisky on the rocks, old fashions or spirits with mixers. If you like your whisky neat, be aware that holding a tumbler will raise the temperature of your drink, as the body temperature of your hands will travel through the glass and the liquid.  Our branded Tumbler is available in our shop here.

Norlan Whisky Glass

Norlan Glass: This double-walled glass is designed for the “on the rocks” and “neat” whisky drinkers in mind that enjoy a big glass. The cavity between the glass walls creates a gap between the hand and the liquid to limit the heat exchange, while the concave outer rim and narrow neck not only concentrate flavours but also create a perfect fit for lips to avoid any spillage.

The Tasting Glasses: If you want to look like a professional and discuss with your friends the secrets behind your favourite distilleries, Riedel Vinum, Glencairns and Copitas are the glasses for you.


The well-known glass brand Riedel has designed this particular item in 1994, during the renaissance of single malts, making it the first purpose-made whisky glass. If you want to hold a piece of whisky history in your hands or use it as an excuse to tell your whisky expert friends what hides behind the story of this glass, it is a great choice for timeless design.

The short stem makes it comfortable to hold from the base, and the tall neck allows for lighter aromatic compounds to be detected by most, even inexperienced, drinkers.

The Glencairn: If you have attended a whisky tasting before, you might have enjoyed a dram in this crystal glass before. Endorsed by the scotch whisky association as the official glass for whisky, used in over 90 countries, this patent glass has travelled far and for all good reasons.

Kilchoman Glencairn whisky glass

Designed in 2001, Raymond Davidson, the founder of Glencairn Crystal, took it upon himself to address this issue and began designing a glass specifically for the whisky drinker. Helped by the best master blenders in Scotland, he envisaged a glass similar to a traditional sherry nosing glass (or Copita) that would encourage the user to appreciate the ‘nose’ and palate of the whisky, whilst being functional and robust enough for a bar environment.  The thick stem makes it sturdy, the large base allows aeration and the narrow neck prevents the lighter aromas to escape from the glass too quickly.

Our branded Glencairn is available on our shop here.

The Copita: The Spanish name defines the provenance of this glass, typically used by the bodegas for sherry tastings, or many fortified wines, this vessel is a miniature of a wine glass. Widely used by spirits and liquor producers, it keeps flavours concentrated and easy to evaluate, it is sometimes preferred to the Glencairn for its tall stem and lid. This first feature avoids any perfume or the heat of hands to interfere with the liquid, and the lid traps all the volatile compounds to revisit later.

Whilst for whisky cocktails the glassware variety is endless, the most commonly used are tumblers for old fashions and sours, highballs for highball cocktails and long drinks, and coupes for Manhattans and vieux carre’.

Hopefully you have found the glass fit for your drinking style and if not convinced by the whole glass shape science, why not sample your favourite dram in a mug as a test, you will thank us later!






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