Wherever you are in your whisky journey, you may be wondering if there is a specific glass you should be using. Most whisky drinkers prefer the traditional tumbler style glass – but does that make tumblers the perfect whisky glass?
The truth is it depends why you are drinking whisky. If you just want a receptacle to hold your whisky, a tumbler is just fine. If you want to develop your whisky palate and savour the taste and aromas then a whisky tumbler is almost certainly the wrong glass.
Let’s explore whisky glasses further.
Introduction to the Perfect Whisky Glass
In order to understand what glass is best for drinking whisky, we first need to find out what changes the characteristics of your whisky.
First and foremost, temperature has an impact on your whisky. A warm room temperature whisky will express more character, making it easier to pick up aromas and flavour profiles.
This differs to wine-tasting where too much heat can alter the taste negatively. It is for this reason, most wine glasses have stalks or stems to keep heat generated by your hands away from the body of the glass.
With whisky, the molecules in the drink agitate with warmth from your hands and the drink improves.
In this respect, a tumbler style glass is absolutely fine for whisky drinking as it keeps your drink in contact with your hands.
The Whisky Tumbler isn’t Ideal for Containing the Whisky
A typical whisky tumbler is as wide at the top as it is at the base of the glass. This means while you are conducting the all important warmth to the glass, there is no bottleneck to funnel the flavour and smell to a focal point.
Whisky despite its robust reputation is quite a fragile drink. When whisky is made and stored in barrels, a high percentage of it is lost to the atmosphere in what whisky distilleries call the Angel’s Share.
The same thing happens in your whisky tumbler, albeit on a much smaller scale and you will lose a marginal amount of quality by using a tumbler.
Glencairn – Perfect Whisky Glass?
Ideally, you want a whisky glass that has a narrow top and a wider base and body. This allows the whisky to excite in your glass and funnels the full flavour and smell to the top of your glass.
The gold standard whisky glass is known as the Glencairn glass, and most distilleries offer tastings using this brand or style of glass.
Should You Add Ice to Whisky?
You will notice from the design of Glencairn glasses they are not designed to accommodate ice cubes. This is for good reason; you should not be adding ice to whisky for two reasons.
Ice chills your whisky and inhibits the molecular activity you want to encourage and when it melts, it over dilutes your whisky and negatively affects the flavour.
Although it might feel like the cool thing to do – ordering a whisky on the rocks, it is without doubt the thing not to do if you take whisky seriously.
Ordering whisky on the rocks informs those around you that you don’t really know much about whisky.
But I Have Heard You Should Add Water to Whisky?
Yes, you can add water, but not much. A couple of drops of water will help that chemical reaction along in your glass and can get your whisky to its best state a bit faster.
With that said, adding water isn’t an absolute must do. For example, I only drink my whisky neat, preferring to enjoy the whisky as it develops and changes in the glass.
Don’t go overboard when adding water, the aim isn’t to dilute the whisky. The aim is to introduce large water molecules to the liquid to cause the whisky molecules to get excited. Two or three drops of water will do the trick.
Should I Buy a Glencairn Glass? – Find the Perfect Whisky Glass
You should buy a whisky glass with the same glass design as a Glencairn glass. Glencairn glasses are typically inexpensive but can get pricy depending on the material and detailing on the glass.
They are created specifically for whisky and enhance your whisky drinking experience.