Whisky glasses – which type of glass are you looking for?

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Whisky glasses – which type of glass are you looking for?

Whiskey glasses, which ones to choose when starting a tasting? Whisky glass is essential for making the tasting work
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Nosing glass

Glencairn whisky glass

Copita glass

Whiskey tumbler

Canadian mixer

Engraved whiskey glasses

Many people ask, which are the best Scotch glasses you can get? The best whisky glasses for tasting, the ultimate way to drink whisky? You bump into terms like nosing glasses, whiskey tumblers, Glencairn whisky glasses, nosing Copita glasses – just to mention a few. It doesn’t matter, whether it’s called a Scotch glass, whiskey glass or a whisky glass (with an “e” or without one). What matters most, is it a nosing glass or a regular whisky tumbler. Again, it can be a whiskey tumbler as well (with an “e”). So never mind the terms, the field of whisky is so twisted that there are lots of different terms, you can use, whether you are Scottish, American, Irish or some other nationality.

Before I go on about different kind of whisky glasses, I’ll also state this: whisky tastes the same, whether it’s a nosing glass, a whisky tumbler or an ordinary drinking glass, or even a mug. The taste doesn’t get any different, unless you tamper the dram with something – adding water or using a dirty glass or a glass that’s not washed properly (some soap left at the bottom of the glass). Taste will remain same, but the aromas are the ones you are looking for. Aromas will improve with the right selection of whisky glasses. Or should I say whiskey glasses, just to keep the Americans and Irish satisfied.

It is funny how champagne, brandy or wine, each have their own glasses designed just for the drink in question. But whisky, which by the way in my opinion is the worlds most complex spirit, is being served in anything. whether it’s a highball glass or a tumbler, or some other glass made for drinking. Like stated before, I don’t care if it’s even a mug, the taste of whisky will still be the same. But for capturing the aromas of whisky, below are some different whiskey glass options.

What is a nosing glass?

Nosing glass is glassware designed to capture the aromas of the drink the best way possible. A typical nosing glass is wide from the bottom, narrow at the top. Sometimes the neck of the nosing glass opens up a bit, so that the aromas come out of the glass in a rich way. Nosing glasses come in different shapes and designs. Glencairn nosing glass is probably the most known, when it comes to whisky. Nosing glasses can be used with other spirits as well.

Glencairn – probably the best whisky glass

You can buy a set from Amazon if you’re interested, check the lowest prices below:

Glencairn whiskey glasses in Amazon US

Glencairn whisky glasses in Amazon UK

Glencairn has produced the most recognized whisky glass in the world. Used by professionals, connoisseurs, aficionados, everyone who enjoys whisky a bit more than the Average Joe. Glencairn whisky glass is surely a good way to enjoy whisky. It surely isn’t the only way to get the best out of your dram, but I’m sure that every whisky lover in the world will recommend Glencairn whisky glasses, if you ask for opinion. Glencairn has made different types of whisky glasses. They have the original Glencairn whisky glass and a nosing Copita glass, and also a Canadian mixer glass – which is a tumbler made in the Glencairn shape. I’ll get back to the other types later in this article but first, let’s talk about the traditional Glencairn, one of the best whisky glasses you can get.

Dimensions of Glencairn nosing glass

Typical Glencairn nosing glass dimensions are: 4.5 inches tall (115 mm), 1.75″ top diameter, 2.75″ maximum diameter. Capacity of a typical Glencairn whisky glass is approx. 175 ml (5.9 US fl oz) – usually it is intended to hold approx. 50 ml (1.7 US fl oz) of whisky.

Whisky glassware set by Glencairn

I’m a happy owner of Glencairn whisky glassware set

Glencairn whisky glass is a nosing glass best of its kind – and they are not expensive whiskey glasses. So probably the best whisky glasses in the world don’t even cost much. Unless you want the engraved version, those Glencairns are some expensive whiskey glasses. Worth the price, though. There are lots of designer whisky glasses out there, that will do the same Glencairn does, but it will cost you extra money. Schott and Riedel are brands who produce similar kind of glasses as Glencairn does. Glencairn do make higher priced whisky glasses as well, I’ve bumped into more detailed crystal glass versions of the original Glencairn whisky glass. But for me, the original will do just fine. Maybe I’ll get it engraved at some point.

The shape of the Glencairn whisky glass is essential. It will capture the aromas very well, So far, from my own experience, it has captured the aromas the best way possible. The glass suits nicely to your hand, although I do prefer glass with a neck a bit more. That’s why a nosing Copita comes handy from time to time.

Here is Master Blender, sir Richard Paterson talking about Glencairn whisky glass.

Copita glass – classic connoisseur way to enjoy a dram

Bruichladdich 10 year old – The Laddie Ten

Nosing Copita whisky glass by Glencairn, notice the different shape

Nosing Copita glass is a stylish version of the nosing glass. Copita is the one with a neck, which I myself prefer very much. Copita glasses come in different forms, depending on the producers choices made with the design. Even though the traditional Glencairn whisky glass is one of the best ones out there, I found their Copita version to be not as good. In one of our local whisky society tastings, we compared Glencairn’s Copita nosing glass with the original. We tasted the same whisky from both of the glasses and found that Glencairn’s Copita doesn’t give nearly as much aromas, as the original does. That’s why I’ve preferred Copita glasses from other manufacturers. The shape has to be similar to the one you’ll get with the traditional Glencairn whisky glass. I wonder why they didn’t use the same shape design for their nosing Copita glass?

I have a set of two of Ardbeg’s Copita glasses in my cabinet. They are shaped the same way as Glencairn’s original whisky glasses and give away the aromas as effectively. The Ardbeg whisky glasses with Copita design come also with a lid. A lid is a nice way to keep the aromas in the glass if the whisky is abandoned for a while. Especially smoke whiskies and strong peated ones tend to lose the aromas, if they rest in the glass for a long time. With a lid you’ll capture the strong aromas longer.

Nosing Copita glasses for whisky by Ardbeg

Ardbeg’s whisky glasses work well

Amazon does offer some Copita glasses for whisky too.

Riedel’s best whisky glass is almost like Copita

Riedel designed their own whisky glass in 1992, with a panel of Scotch whisky experts at Riedel’s Austria headquarters. They tested a range of 19 different glass shapes. Georg Riedel made some further research with some help from Scottish master distillers. The research resulted Riedel to design a whisky glass which resembles something like a nosing Copita glass. Riedel whisky glass is “an elongated thistle shape on a truncated stem”, like they state in their marketing texts. This design has a small, slightly outturned lip directing the whisky onto the tip of your tongue. As Riedel states, right there where the sweetness is perceiving, and serving “to emphasize the elegant creaminess of top quality single malt whisky”.

Spiegelau Snifter glass – definitely a Copita

Spiegelau offers two kinds of whisky glasses – the Single Barrel Bourbon glass, which is similar to the Glencairn Canadian mixer glass (tulip shaped tumbler), and Whisky Snifter Premium, which looks like a perfect nosing Copita whisky glass. I haven’t tried their Snifter whisky glass but the shape and design look perfect to me. The outturned lip of the Snifter glass looks just like Glencairn’s traditional whisky glass shape, combined with a long neck making it almost 20 cm (7,5 inches) tall. Just the way I would like my Copita nosing glass to be. It’s the long, easy to grab neck along with the lip outturning enough but not too much, which make a whisky glass most enjoyable in my book.

Like their marketing texts state, this is most suitable for great single malts and bourbons, but of course you can feel free trying any kind of drams in it. It’s nice to try a cheap blend for example – just to see if it has any good aromas trying to break free. According to Spiegelau, the Snifter glass for whisky has improved breakage resistance, brilliant clarity, exceptional durability and it is safe to use it in a dishwasher. These statements usually do go with all products coming from a reliable whisky glass manufacturer.

With a bit better design than the Glencairn Copita, Spiegelau offers their own range of Nosing Copita glasses for whiskey. Worth a try, I think.

Schott Zwiesel nosing whiskey glass

Schott Zwiesel is famous for their durable Tritan Crystal. This German innovator has been revolutionary in glass production – creating the first machine made stemware and lead-free crystal glasses. Their nosing whiskey glass is actually quite similar to Spiegelau, making it a good contender in the world of whiskey glasses. Suitable for any kind of whiskey as well. Tritan crystal by Schott Zwiesel has no lead and it’s made out of titanium and zirconium oxide. It resists breakage, chipping and scratching and thermal shocks.

This nosing glass for whiskey is – just like Spiegelau – a perfect shaped Copita nosing glass.

Again, sir Richard Paterson offering tips for whisky tasting, this time with a nosing Copita glass:

Whiskey tumbler – classic scotch glass

One of the most classic Scotch glasses you can get is the whisky tumbler. Many people despise a traditional whiskey tumbler but I say: a tumbler can have its moments of glory too. Whiskey tumbler is great when you are consuming your whisky fast. I’m not saying you should drink whisky like a drink addict, but sometimes the yearning for a dram is so big, you’ll end up gulping the whisky with big mouthfuls. And usually then a tumbler is the way to go. You can’t take big gulps from a nice nosing glass.

Of course I won’t be pouring myself a Lagavulin 16yo or some other high quality whisky into a tumbler. But for the bulk stuff, even for the better stuff at some point, a whiskey tumbler is just fine. For fast consumption, when you in a hurry, drinking whisky almost for thirst. And I know, whisky really isn’t a drink for thirst, but I’m sure many whisky lovers know the feeling when you just drink the stuff probably a bit too fast. Just for the pure enjoyment, because after all: it is whisky!

In whiskey tumblers, you can find different kinds of shapes too. Like mentioned before, Glencairn has made the Canadian mixer, which is a whiskey tumbler but with the Glencairn shape. It is big enough to fill it with some ice, big enough for big gulps like a tumbler should be. Still it probably captures aromas pretty well. Definitely in my shopping list. At the moment, I have a special tumbler, which is my favorite. I got it from a tax free shop many years ago, on a ferry from Turku to Stockholm. It came in Grant’s Family Reserve Blended Whisky package, a branded whisky tumbler with Grant’s logo on it. The design was triangular, so with only three edges instead of the traditional four, I think that this whiskey tumbler captures more of the aromas. Didn’t realize it back then, I was just happy to get a thick whisky glass with a whisky brand logo in it. Over the years, it has found its way into my heart even more.

Whiskey tumbler glass with William Grant's logo

So be sure to always check the design. Think about the aspects of what makes the best whisky glass – expensive whiskey glasses aren’t necessarily the way to go. Shape has to be a bit narrow from the top, yet opening up a bit so that the aromas come clearly. Even a whiskey tumbler glass can give away aromas, at least in a better way than the traditionally shaped tumbler. Just be precise while buying whiskey glasses, examine them, try to think with logic. Or just buy what feels right. You can’t go awfully wrong if you’re drinking whisky!

If tumbler is the way to go try one of these, from Amazon:

Nachtmann whiskey tumbler

Nachtmann brings luxury to the barware. They have their own barware set called Noblesse – which includes whiskey tumblers and carafe. They also have whisky glassware set called Aspen with a non-leaded decanter and whiskey tumblers, which by the way are made out of lead crystal. Lead is not good when storing whiskey for quite long time. With whisky glasses there’s probably no harm done but if you want to be sure – buy lead-free glasses for your whiskey.

Nachtmann makes usually crystal glasses with luxury design, the crystal is carved to make it look more glamorous. I myself like their simplified design with Vivendi whiskey tumblers. Those are thick whiskey tumblers made with the traditional mold, but with rounded edges which might improve getting the aromas. I can imagine this tumbler being almost as good as the Canadian mixer, but not quite there, when trying to capture the aromas the best way possible. Keep in mind that tumblers aren’t the way to go if you want to taste whiskey like a connoisseur.

With Nachtmann, the design is better than with a traditional tumbler, capturing aromas a bit more. Check out Nachtmann’s selection below:

Lowest prices of Nachtman whiskey tumbler in US

Lowest prices of Nachtmann whisky tumbler in UK

Glencairn’s very own tumbler – the Canadian mixer

This whiskey tumbler is definitely in my gift list. This whiskey glass fascinates me very much. As a fan of good nosing glasses and good tumblers, this seems like the perfect mix of both of them. Outturned lips and enough room for ice cubes – well, in my case, whiskey rocks aka stones (I like them better).

This whiskey glass was specifically designed for Canadian whisky, but of course it works great for any kind of malt whisky, blend or bourbon. The wide bowl allows much room for whiskey and the base is designed easy to hold. Larger than the original Glencairn nosing glass, but with similar shape. Looks perfect to me, I can imagine appreciating cheaper whiskies much more with this glass. Like stated before, Glencairn Canadian mixer has plenty of room to add ice or whisky stones if that’s your “cup of tea”.

Glencairn offers a great tumbler experience with its Canadian mixer whiskey glass. It is a nice mix of tumbler attitude in a nosing glass shape, definitely worth a try! Check out the lowest prices from links below:

Order from the US

Order from the UK

Engraved whiskey glasses

You can also get your whisky glasses engraved. There’s nothing better than personalized expensive whiskey glasses. Actually they are even not expensive whiskey glasses, if you can find a good offer somewhere. I know I’ve loved even the ones with a distillery logo on it. So how cool would it be to get your own name or favorite team logo engraved in your favorite whiskey glass. Engraved whiskey glasses are not so expensive. Check out my post about engraved glasses.

Hope you enjoyed my take on best whisky glasses, or whiskey glasses with an e. Just to be sure we are talking about the same thing. Remember, whether it’s some nosing glass for whisky, a whiskey tumbler, nosing Copita glass or the Glencairn whisky glass – you’re always drinking the nectar of gods, water of life aka “uisge beatha”. It will taste good.

Here’s another video by Ralfy, about whisky glasses:

Whisky glasses Glencairn whisky glass Nosing Copita whisky glass Whiskey tumbler

Johannes Lindblom
Johannes Lindblom

Finnish whisky enthusiast and the author of WhiskyRant! A digital marketing professional by day – a whisky reviewer and informer by night.

2 Comments

  1. You menitoned that the shape of the Glencairn whisky glass is essential, as a good shape will capture the aromas of the whisky well. My uncle is a bit of a connoisseur of whisky, and his birthday is coming up. I’ll have to look around online and see if I can find a whisky glass that can properly catch those aromas, as I know that my uncle would really appreciate that.

    • Johannes Lindblom Johannes Lindblom says:

      Glencairn whisky nosing glass is one of the best ones for aromas. Their Copita glass couldn’t deliver the aromas as well as the original Glencairn nosing glass. So my advice is: go with the typical Glencairn whisky glasses and if you want a Copita style whisky glass, try another brand with better shape. Ardbeg’s branded Copita glasses for example.

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