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There are a lot of opinions when it comes to the best whiskey glasses. Many preach that the tulip-shaped copita glass is ideal for presenting the spirits’ aromas and flavors. Others prefer a classic Old Fashioned or rocks glass for sipping whiskey. Or, “Let's be honest,” quips Robin Goodfellow, co-owner of Toronto's PrettyUgly and Bar Raval, “most of the whisk(e)y we consume in our life is from a shot glass.”
Whatever you pick for your poison, a glass can change your whole drinking experience. Some are designed to highlight the spirit, while others are versatile enough for cocktails, neat pours and beyond. Still, all are good options, though we’d argue a well-stocked bar should carry a few different types. Whether bourbon, Scotch, Rye or Irish Whiskey is your drink of choice, here are the best whiskey glasses to add to your collection.
Best Overall: Huckberry Whiskey Peaks Glasses
Huckberry’s Whiskey Peaks line boasts as much form as they do function: Made of hand-blown glass, the handsome conversation pieces are almost paper-thin and designed to let the spirit shine. Best of all, topographic impressions of famed mountains and peaks—including Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, Denali, Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Rainier and Mount Washington—float up from the bottom of each glass. Whether you’re keen on climbing up rock faces or looking for a spirited souvenir, the 11.5-ounce Whiskey Peaks glass is a unique way to elevate a drinking experiment. Think of them as a great gift for bosses, bachelors and beyond.
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Best Glencairn Glass: Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass
"I'm quite stuck on the traditional Glencairn glass,” describes Nicole Ross, the head bartender of New York City's The Chester. “A Glencairn glass really lets you fully appreciate the notes you get on the nose and the layering of the flavors.”
These Glencairn glasses are beloved by whiskey drinkers as they concentrate the aromas—something a rocks glass does not. Each 6-ounce glass is designed to show off the color and the aroma of the spirit. “The ideal glass, so I've been told by many whisk(e)y distillers, for tasting is a stemmed glass that has a wider base than the nose, like ISO or Cordial glass,” explains Goodfellow. “You can see the spirits well—the glass tapers towards the top to concentrate the smell when you nose it, and the stem removes any unintentional heat to the spirit.”
Kristen Voisey, the owner of Cocktail Emporium and the brand’s glassware designer, agrees: “This is the standard tasting glass used at most distilleries. The shape is meant to enhance the aromas of fine whisk(e)y, and I find it does that job well.”
Good to Know:
Goodfellow recommends adding a bit of room temperature water to the Glencairn glass to help open up the spirit.
Best Rocks Glass: Riedel Drink-Specific Rocks Glass
A rocks glass is good for anything: single-ounce pours, spirits on the rocks cocktails or even water. For Voisey, Riedel’s 9-ounce heavy-base tumblers are particularly “great for drinking Old Fashioneds or classic whiskey cocktails on the rocks.”
For this drink-specific collection, Georg Riedel tapped a range of bartenders and industry experts to create these glasses. Each design showcases both spirits and cocktails, and can hold up in a high-energy bar environment—it’s common to spot these glasses on bar tops across the country.
“It's also perfect for drinking whiskey straight with its unique 2-ounce pour indicator etch (the top of the triangle at the bottom measures exactly 2 ounces),” adds Voisey. Note that the larger size allows for a few chunks of ice to a dram of whiskey.
Best Double-Walled: Norlan Whisky Glass
This isn’t your ordinary whiskey glass. Initially launched by a successful Kickstarter campaign, Norlan’s original glass models were each conjured up via a 3D printer. Although the design process sounds unconventional, the company, comprised of designer Sruli Recht, brand director Brian Fichtner and CEO Shane Bahng, created the glass with some of the most well-respected figures in the Scotch world. Now, the glasses are all hand-blown into these tried-and-tested shapes.
The founders used biomimicry and fluid dynamic modeling to produce the perfect whiskey glass, combining the easy-sipping nature of tumbler glasses with the technical qualities of nosing glasses. Plus, the 7-ounce glass’ double-walled design keeps hand heat away from liquid: The round curves of the outer wall nestle the glass comfortably in your hand while the tulip-shaped inner wall focuses and diffuses the aroma to reveal nuanced flavors.
Most Unique: Dragon Diamond Whiskey Glasses
Not only are these diamond-shaped glasses from Dragon Glassware aesthetically pleasing, but they're also made to enhance your whiskey drinking experience. The unique shape of the glass helps aerate your drink as it is poured or swirled in the vessel. Even more, it rests at a 50-degree angle that's both anti-rocking and spill-proof. With a 10-ounce capacity, these lead-free crystal glasses are also dishwasher and freezer safe. Gift them to a friend or add the glasses to your home bar for an excellent conversation piece.
Best for Japanese Whisky: The Experience Neat Whiskey Glass
Many of the world’s top tasting competitions use this Neat Glass option as their standard tasting glass, and with good reason: Each glass is thoughtfully mouth-blown from lead-free crystal. The heavier weight of the glass—similar to what you’d get from antique crystal—is also a nice touch.
The glass holds 4 ounces and is wider than the traditional tasting glass. This opening is designed to amplify the aromas and flavor characters of the spirit, like the delicate flavors of Japanese whisky, while avoiding the nose-numbing, overpowering ethanol scent. This design, a result of nine years of tastings and studies, also points out any potential flaws within the liquid. Each glass comes in an elegant burgundy and silver box, making it a go-to gift.
Good to Know:
While antique and vintage glassware is a beautiful addition to a home bar, many older pieces were made with lead oxide (this added a reflective sheen to the exterior of the glasses). Keep this in mind when you buy antiques, or opt for new glassware with a retro design.
Best Splurge: Riedel Vinum Whisky Glasses
A crowd-favorite across the board is Riedel’s 7-ounce Vinum whiskey glass. "They’re great for nosing spirits,” says Marissa Mazzotta, bar manager at New York Distilling’s The Shanty. “It's a particularly ideal glass to use when we are tasting through barrel samples.”
These elegant glasses were designed in collaboration with Scotch whiskey experts back in 1992 when the Riedel family brought in Scotland’s finest master distillers to help fine-tune every step of the design process. “The shape of the glass really allows you to get the top notes as you smell and a full sip across the palate when you go in for it,” explains Mazzotta. “Though a bit pricey, they’re totally worth it if you’re able to splurge."
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Best Small Glass: Villeroy & Boch Boston Shot Glass
Even if you own a venerable selection of snifters, there may be an occasion (or two) that calls for drinking whiskey in a more festive manner. These crystal shot glasses evoke the style of elegant barware, thanks to patterned designs and classic coloring (including pale blue, bright red, rose and grey), yet they boast the fun of a solid shot glass. Each glass also has a 2.5-ounce capacity. “I prefer a shot glass that holds at least 1.5 ounces, allowing 1 ounce to comfortably rest without spilling over the top," explains Goodfellow. “I’m also a fan of the short shot glasses that slightly fan out and have some weight to them, rather than the ones that just go straight up like a test tube." Dishwasher safe, these durable glasses are ready to survive jostles, slips and slam downs on the bar.
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Best Design: NUDE Beak Crystal Drinking Glass
This NUDE glass is a more modern take on the traditional snifting glass, with an angular silhouette and lead-free crystal construction. Designed by Swiss glassware expert Tomas Kral, the glass has taken home top awards for design. Pick up the matching carafe to decant your favorite whiskeys in style, and choose from a traditional clear color, a smokey grey hue or a striking purple. The handmade glass measures 3 by 3 inches and has a 3-ounce capacity.
Best Themed: Golf Ball Whiskey Glass
“I love unique glassware especially for my home bar,” describes Cristina Suarez, the beverage manager of KUSH Hospitality Group. “[These glasses] have an almost snifter-like shape on the top which enhances the whiskey flavor by trapping the aroma on top while the rounded bottom allows the glass to be fully cupped in your hand to warm it up. It would definitely make a great gift for the whiskey-loving golfer in your life.”
Even though the glasses resemble a golf ball, they are abstract enough to fit in with any home bar. Available in a set of two, each 10-ounce whiskey glass is handcrafted in the Midwest.
Best Set: Stolzle Tasting Glass Set
“The perfect glassware is vital to providing the perfect guest experience. I recommend the single malt tasting glass from Stolzle,” describes Anderson Clark, the co-owner of San Diego's Common Stock. This set includes three of the brand's lead-free crystal glasses, along with a wooden tray. Each glass is 2.5 inches in diameter and 4.5 inches in height and holds 6 ounces of liquid.
Use this set for a tasting test by selecting some drams in various styles—perhaps an array of Islay whiskies, or a range of Highland, Lowland, and Islay whiskies, new world and old world drams. These tasting glasses will help you distinguish the different nuances of the nose and palates. “This glass is perfect for a range of spirits and captures the essence and aromas perfectly,” continues Clark. Try out the flight with gin, vodka, rum or bourbon.
Best Old Fashioned Glass: Marquis by Waterford Glasses
A solid Old Fashioned glass is a must-have for any bar, like this one from Waterford. It doubles as an excellent vessel for tasting spirits and is large enough to build out Old Fashioneds and other cocktails. “I love a nice sturdy, weighted, cushion-cut crystal rocks glass for whiskey,” says Ryan Maybee, the co-founder of J. Rieger & Co. “The laser etching makes the glass extra comfortable in your hands, and the heavier the base, the less heat transfers into the spirit itself!”
These 11-ounce glasses are made from lead-free crystalline with elegant detailing that will withstand the test of time. They're part of Waterford's Marquis line, which offers more affordable crystal pieces than the brand's other glasses. Whiskey distillers love these glasses because they have weight to them—they're a particularly excellent glass to swirl.
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Kate Dingwall is an experienced spirits writer and glassware collector. She has been writing about the bar and spirits world for five years, including extensive coverage on glassware. She owns a concerning amount of glassware, from art deco Karl Palda decanters to 1800s-era crystal coupes, and she’s happy to wax poetic about all of them.