‘Uisge beatha’ – the water of life, as whisky was once known, has been distilled for close to a thousand years, and is still as popular as ever. Whisky is most closely associated with Scotland, which gives its name to Scotch whisky, but Ireland lays a reasonable claim to the spirit, and there are now distilleries all over the world producing their own local variations. Surprisingly, in all this time there have been very few drinking vessels created specifically for the liquor. We’re going to take a look at the most common glasses used for drinking whisky.
When it comes to whisky, the shot glass is most commonly seen containing a measure of moonshine or bourbon, before being slammed back down onto a saloon bar, in a grainy western. Shot glasses are designed for a fairly singular purpose, and offer little opportunity to savour any complex notes or flavours in the drink. Great for a party, but perhaps not so great for your aged single malt.
The lowball, or old fashioned, glass is the one most commonly associated with whisky. The size and shape of the glass allows for the perfect amount of the spirit to be served with ice, which is given plenty of room to move around within the drink, making sure it reaches the optimum temperature. The low profile of the glass also means that it’s less likely to be knocked over and spilt, which is always beneficial!
The wide shape of the glass means that there is a large surface area of the liquid exposed to the air, allowing the volatiles within to react and mature as the whisky is drunk. The curved sides also serve to trap the aromas inside as the spirit evaporates. This type of glass is perfect for those who prefer to appreciate their whisky as it warms, rather than with ice. When the stem is held, the heat of holding it raises the temperature of the spirit, and encourages complex flavours and subtleties to emerge.
Glencairn Whisky Glass
This is one of the few glasses that have been designed specifically for whisky, and is based on the design of the traditional nosing copitas, that are used in distilleries for tasting and testing whisky. The design of the glass was approved by master blenders from five of the biggest whisky companies in Scotland. Similar to a snifter, but with a wider base without a stem so that the glass requires more contact with the hand, allowing the temperature to develop throughout the drink; and a smaller rim, to trap all of the aromas released, to guarantee a powerful drinking experience.
Cleaning your whisky glasses
As with everything else in life, enjoying a glass of whisky means washing up. A dishwasher makes short work of a couple of glasses, but repeated washing of these over time can cause cloudiness to form. We at Finish have devised Finish Quantum Max Shine and Protect, a special formulation designed to protect your glasses from the process that causes cloudy glasses for longer. So you can enjoy your water of life as and when you feel like it, without having to worry about the affect it might have on your shot glasses, lowballs, and snifters.