Choosing the right whisky glass

Whisky on ice in a tall rocks glass.

A great whisky glass should draw the nose in with the spirit’s wondrously complex aromas without accentuating any headiness. On the palate, the glass should capture the spirit’s balance of malt sweetness and texture, while not overstating any lingering warmth in the finish. Here are five whisky glasses all whisky lovers should have on-hand.  

  1. Glencairn
    Developed by Glencairn Crystal in consultation with some of the industry’s biggest players. The rounded bowl and inward taper of glass helps retain both a whisky’s robust woody tones and its more delicate malt character. The shape also helps direct the spirit to the mid-palate, allowing for it to showcase its balance of malt sweetness and spice in the finish.

  2. Copita
    This is a glass used by Sherry’s master tasters and historically has been used by many Scotch distillers to assess their spirit. The small glass has an inward taper to capture aromatics, but some have argued that it accentuates the alcoholic heat of the drink. Consider adding a drop of spring water to diffuse the warmth of the spirit. Available at  

  3. Single Malt Whisky Society
    Somewhere between a Glencairn and a larger version of a Copita Sherry glass. A short stem allows the taster to easily grasp the glass by the bowl should they wish to warm the spirit. The larger size of the glass, compared to a Copita, also provides the taster the opportunity to give a more aggressive swirl. By agitating the spirit, it will help release volatile flavour compounds from the whisky. Available through the Scotch Malt Whisky Society,  

  4. Snifter
    The snifter is more commonly associated with brandy and Cognac than Scotch. While a good vessel to use in a pinch, it is comparably less suited to Scotch tasting than a Glencairn, Copita or Single Malt Whisky Society Glass.  

  5. Whisky Tumbler
    A tumbler does little to capture the delicate malt aromas of Scotch. While it will accentuate heavier wood tones, this glass is best reserved for mixed drinks and cocktails such as the classic Rusty Nail.


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