Whiskey Glass Guide: How to Choose the Right Type of Glass

Even though there’s something special about taking a sip of whiskey from a flask while in the wild outdoors, nothing beats sitting down with your favorite bottle and pouring a perfect glass. Already from the sound of opening the bottle, you tell your body and mind, that it’s time to relax and unwind. That’s why it’s important for you to know everything you can when picking out the vessel that holds your whiskey.

The whiskey glass guide intro

Choosing the right glass for your whiskey depends on what kind of whiskey you like and how you prefer to drink it. Do you like it neat? On the rocks? A heavy pour or just a little sip? We are not here to tell you how to drink it – there is no right or wrong. In this article, we just want to be your guide through the jungle of whiskey glasses to help you find the right glass for you

What kind of whiskey glasses exists?

In our list below, you’ll find all the standard and original types of whiskey glasses used for drinking whiskey. Please note, that in addition to these, many companies have designed their own versions with unique names to brand their products in connection with a certain drink.

Whisky vs. Whiskey – learn when to use which spelling

The Tulip Glass

Tulip Whiskey glass

(AKA the copita-style glass, the dock glass): This glass has the longest stem of all the whiskey glasses. It’s middle in size and shaped like a tulip. This glass is the first choice for master distillers, blenders, and whiskey connoisseurs around the world as its long stem prevents the drinker’s hand from coming too close to the nose. Its body is bowl-shaped and can easily be cradled if a warmer temperature is preferred.

The Glencairn Glass

Glencairn whiskey glass

This glass is similar in shape to the tulip glass but with a short base instead of a stem. The glass is slightly thicker, making it more substantial for convivial drinking. Because of its smaller size, the Glencairn is the preferred glass for learning how to swirl your whiskey. It was designed in 2001 specifically for whiskey drinking. Glencairn’s are great for nosing or drinking something new that you want to fully experience.

The Whiskey Tumbler

Tumbler Whiskey Glass pair

(AKA old-fashioned/rocks/lowball glass): a flat-bottomed drinking glass that comes in many different sizes (note that the old-fashioned/rocks/lowball glass is also a tumbler). It’s the most common of all whiskey glasses. You may recognize this style on hit TV shows like Mad Men or Peaky Blinders. It’s a timeless glass and a must-have for any whiskey fan.

The Highball Glass

Highballer whiskey glasses

The taller sibling of the tumbler with a narrow base and a wider rim. It’s most commonly used when adding a mixer. The larger body allows for plenty of ice, mixer, and spirit. Some people also refer to this glass as “the double” because bartenders will reach for this glass when you’re craving more than just a “single” drink.

The Neat Glass

Neat whiskey glass

Its shape is almost like a wider, flatter hourglass – like a miniature fishbowl. This unique design makes it easy to swirl your whiskey, which in turn will enhance its aroma. This modern style of glass is well suited for those new to the spirits category as it is able to negate harsh, unfavorable aromas.

The Shot/Shooter Glass

Whiskey shot glass

You’ll find yourself reaching for this glass if you just want a sipper. Its small (typical 2 oz.) size is typically used either for a dessert beverage or a whiskey shot. They come in all sizes; wide, narrow, double, or single.

The Cordial Glass

Cordial whiskey glasses
Photo: Libbey

(AKA the pony glass): This glass dates back to the very beginning of the 19th when it became customary to follow a large meal with a few sips of sweet liqueur. It is small in size and has a thin stem. Best used when you’re craving a nightcap.

The Snifter Glass

Whiskey Snifter Glass

(AKA the balloon): A glass that is no stranger in the gentlemen’s club. It’s a short-stemmed glass with a wide bottom and narrow top (balloon-shaped). They’re designed like that so when held partially horizontal, you won’t spill your drink. The snifter’s wide body and tight rim help the release of ethanol vapors, that sometimes overpower other aromas.

How to choose the right whiskey glass?

Just like whiskeys, glasses come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In addition to the type, you should also pay attention to the material (preferably lead-free crystal for the best clarity and brilliance) as well as the weight and feel in your hand. Below, we give you some overall guidance as to what kind of glass fits your preferred way of drinking whiskey:

  • Neat: means drinking whiskey at room temperature without anything else in the glass
    Recommended glass: tulip/copita, Glencairn, snifter or neat glass – depending on the quality of your whiskey and your personal preference.
  • With water: adding a small amount of distilled or spring water into the whiskey
    Recommended glass: tumbler and old-fashioned/rocks/lowball glass that allows for adding water and still being able to swirl the whiskey
  • On the rocks (chilled): means adding ice to the whiskey – either via whiskey stones or ice cubes depending on whether you want to water down your drink
    Recommended glass: larger versions of the tumbler and old-fashioned/rocks/lowball glass (but; do ensure that the glass is fit for ice and whiskey stones as it might damage thinner ice or delicate decorations)
  • Cocktail-style: blending your (low- or mid-range) whiskey into a cocktail – e.g. Old Fashioned, Mint Julep, Manhattan or a Rob Roy
    Recommended glass: highball or old fashioned/rocks/lowball glass depending on the volume of the cocktail. We’ve made it easy for you to find the perfect whiskey glass.

How to hold a whiskey glass?

There’s a glass for everybody and every occasion, so it’s important to know how best to hold each type. You may want to cradle your glass to warm it or prefer using a stem to hold onto rather than wrapping your hand around the glass. Holding a whiskey glass properly is important because it allows you to swirl and sniff without spilling. It can also slow down or speed up the melting of ice. On top of that, how you hold your glass communicates a sense of etiquette and distinction when appreciating a fine whiskey.

Let’s cover the basics. Depending on your glass of choice, you might choose to hold it by:

  • The Base – Think stemless wine glasses. When grabbing the glass, simply support the bass with three to four fingers and stabilize the side closest to you with your thumb. This method of holding is best used with tumblers, shot glasses, and neat glasses. 
  • The Stem – Hold the stem of the glass when you want your whiskey to remain at room temperature. This goes without excess heat from your hands. You’ll press the stem between your thumb and two or three fingers, with the rest of your finger resting gently on the foot of the glass. This method of holding is best used for snifters or Glencairn glasses. 
  • The Bowl – This is often used by the more experienced drinkers. It’s a convenient and smooth grip for steady and slow swirling. Situate the stem of the whiskey glass between your middle and ring fingers and make sure to support the entire bowl with the palm of your hand. This method of holding is best used with snifters or tulip-shaped glasses.

What type of whiskey drinker are you?

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Steen Hansen
Steen Hansenhttps://oldnewsclub.com
Steen Hansen has always been into vintage, retro, architecture, gadgets and especially everything with an engine! With more than 11 years as Art Director on danish car magazines, test driver and continuously been pushing boundaries on the race track himself.

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