The whisky glass comes in many guises - from the traditional tumbler to the shapely Glencairn glass.
But does the shape and style of your glass really have an effect on the your drinking experience? Can it truly enhance, or mar, the the subtleties of the amber nectar?
Before we delve in to the science, let’s first remember that whisky drinking is about the experience in its entirety. Trying a new expression for the first time is exciting. The apprehension, the suspense. Will it be what was expected? Should we be tasting sweet, peat, spice, vanilla, leather or rubber? The sniff, the sip, the dissecting and the enjoyment. Sitting down to enjoy your chosen tipple is something akin to spiritual enlightenment…
You wouldn’t drink communion from a plastic cup, so why drink whisky from anything other than a chalice?
A beauty of a dram sitting peacefully in the caressing curves of a Glencairn glass is a joy to behold. The feel of the thin, crisp crystal between pinched fingers, the weight of the glass as you lift it to your lips – it’s all part of the magic. Regardless of the science, considering a proper whisky glass costs less than £6, and your elixir has sat patiently awaiting this moment in a barrel for years, the least you can do it show the respect it demands.
But let’s talk facts.
A Glencairn glass, in all its style and beauty, holds just the right amount of liquid in its main body to allow the whisky’s many subtle (and perhaps not-so-subtle) aromas to condense in its narrower neck, and then expose themselves to the helm of the glass.
This narrow neck is an aperture small enough to capture a majority of the whisky’s ‘volatiles’ (those gloriously aromatic gases it emits), spacious enough to allow you a good sip, and also just big enough to fit one’s nozzle in about it. An expert piece of design, if ever there was one.
Now, I’m sure some of you will be reading this and calling foul. So let’s study the stylings of the tumbler. If you’ve seen any American movie or TV show, you’ll have noticed the brooding and stoic male protagonist is always served his Scotch in a tumbler. But the problem here lies in both the shape and the thickness of its base.
Where some prefer to drink their whisky with a touch of ice, the connoisseurs among us prefer to heat their whisky, gently releasing subtleties unbeknown to the average drinker. The tumbler, however, has a thick base which makes it more difficult to heat things up using the palm of your hand. The width of these glasses also means that the aromas cannot accumulate, the open space allowing for both scent and flavour to dissipate more easily – usually before you’ve had chance to appreciate them in appropriately leisurely style.
So! There you have it; the glass really does make the difference… unless of course you don’t care what it tastes like. And in that case, there’s always the bottle!
|Glencairn Glass £5.99||Glencairn 4 Pack £30||Glencairn Glasses Flight Tray £22.99|