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Fred Noe, Beam Family 7th Generation Master Distiller, puts it pretty simply: “I always say you can drink bourbon any way you want to, and that goes for the glass. There are no set rules, but I like to enjoy mine in a nice rocks glass with a few cubes of ice or with a little water, too.”
Mr. Noe is right. The whiskey glass you choose comes down to personal taste. Pouring some fine Scotch or bourbon at the end of the day is a tiny but satisfying ceremony for a whiskey drinker, and the glass should add a touch of joy to the ritual. Whether you prefer a glass that feels substantial in the hand, one that helps you better enjoy the aromas, or a glass that just looks cool, here are the best whiskey glasses to elevate the drinking experience.
Riedel Crystal has been designing some of the world’s most exquisite glassware since 1756. The company is older than America. And those 300 years have led to the craftsmanship that can be seen in the brand's Spey Whisky Tumblers.
This glass offers a rare combination of quality and style at an affordable price. Taking its name from Scotland’s River Spey, an area that is renowned for producing fine whisky, the glass features a chic design full of diamond and wedge cuts. The style is inspired by the Art Nouveau period. Even when you’re not drinking, these glasses, which come in a set of two, are so stunning that they work as a showpiece in your den, kitchen, or dining room.
The Spey Tumblers are also heavily weighted at the bottom, guaranteeing a sturdy, measured sip every time. They're dishwasher-safe, hold up to 10 ounces, and, the best part, come at an unbeatable price.
It's whiskey when it's made in America or Ireland and whisky everywhere else.
Need a cool gift for a whiskey drinker? Consider these Urban Map glasses from the Boston-based Well Told design shop. The vessels themselves are made in Ohio and then etched in New Hampshire. Each detailed design flows around the glass. From Atlanta to Los Angeles and Miami to Pittsburgh, there are a large number of cities from which to choose, whether your recipient left his heart in San Francisco or she calls Chicago home sweet home. The glasses are 11 ounces, so they are big enough to hold a sizable drink; they're also dishwasher safe, so no special care is required.
If you’ve been to a legit whiskey tasting, odds you have sampled the wares from a Glencairn glass. The tulip-like design funnels aromas to the nose to better help you appreciate the nuanced notes of your bourbon, malt, or rye. Glencairns are also easy to hold and swirl. Plus they’re affordable, so it won’t cost a fortune to keep a good number on hand for you and some friends to sample a few varieties of whiskey. Made from lead-free crystal, the glasses are dishwasher safe.
These are the official glasses of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which is probably all that needs to be said. While they look like the Glencairn’s little brother, they are a bit different. Made from ClearFire glass, they are thin but hearty and feature a wide bowl so you can swirl while you sip. The shape also tapers toward the top to help you soak in aromas. These 8-ounce bourbon glasses come in a set of four, so you can easily pour yourself a flight. Plus they are dishwasher safe and stackable for easy cleanup and minimal storage.
The Norlan whisky glass is all the rage with double-wall enthusiasts. The company takes two molded pieces of borosilicate glass and fuses the two together by spinning it across a linear flame. The result reflects the hue of the whiskey back up through the rim, giving it the shimmering appearance of gold paint. While the Norlan holds 6.9 ounces, you won’t want to fill it up or add aroma-killing ice to allow your senses to take full advantage of the glass’s design. Sold in pairs, the company does not recommend putting them in the dishwasher.
A classic double old-fashioned glass is a must for every home bar, and nothing feels quite like crystal when you’re sipping whiskey. The weight of the glass makes even a dull dram feel more substantial. This handsome set of six RCR crystal glasses from Lorren Home Trends is a great value, and since their 11-ounce capacity makes them excellent for cocktails as well as whiskey, they're also versatile. While they are dishwasher safe and lead-free, washing by hand is recommended to preserve the glasses’ sparkle and translucence.
If you are serious about enjoying the nose of your whiskey and want to get the most out of the bottles you buy, you might want to try the NEAT glass. Particularly great for Japanese whisky, this is a vessel made with love—development lasted nine years and took 52 design revisions. Made from Slovakian finest lead-free, dishwasher-safe crystalline, the glass features a wide bowl that holds a 1.5-ounce pour at the apex. NEAT recommends swirling and placing your nose at the center of the rim so you can smell the whiskey without exposing your beak to unwanted alcohol burn, which can impair your ability to pick up on aromas.
For some traditionalists, having monogrammed glasses is an imperative. Home Wet Bar's 12oz version comes in a set of four get etched to your specifications, which might give a few friends a chance to learn your middle name. But remember, when requesting your initials to go first name, last name, then the middle, so your family name ends up bigger than the others. The glass is BPA free and dishwasher safe, but the company recommends hand washing.
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Nicholas McClelland is a passionate whisk(e)y drinker who has written about spirits for Men’s Journal, Fatherly, and Inside Hook. His bar is deep with rare single malts, hard-to-find bourbons, and ryes, but he doesn't believe there's anything too precious to share with friends.