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Knowledge

Distinction through Diversity: The Whisky Glass Guide

Elevate your whisky experience through the glass you choose

One of the greatest pleasures in drinking a glass of single malt whisky is how it encourages an appreciation of subtlety, celebrating the intention and nuances of the moment. The details matter, from the choice of spirit and the setting, to the type of glass you choose to use. Not to be underestimated, the quality of whisky glass you select has a direct influence on the precious liquid you are enjoying. Up to 90 percent of taste comes from nosing, so the shape and contours of your vessel matter. Paying attention to the details, including the weight, shape, and how it feels in your hand will ultimately impact the entire experience. Today there are options far beyond the classic whisky tumbler, but what are the differences between them?

Making an Informed Decision: Types of Whisky Glasses

We’ve curated the essential details on the top six whisky glasses used today, so you can elevate any occasion or further appreciate the moment when you are drinking your Macallan.
glencairn glass

The Glencairn Glass

With an elegant, classic shape, the Glencairn whisky glass is highly popular with distilleries and whisky connoisseurs across the world, despite its relatively recent origins. It was designed in collaboration with the master blenders from five of Scotland’s largest distilleries in the early 2000s.

Made for whisky, it’s not as ornate as carved crystal glasses, such as the old fashioned. The shape is inspired by the traditional nosing copitas scotch whisky distilleries and labs use when making whisky. In contrast to other glasses, the softly fluted tulip form enables the glass to hold the delicate aromas, focusing them and ultimately changing the overall experience of the whisky.

Macallan lowball tumbler glass

The Tumbler Glass

Also known as the ‘old fashioned’, ‘lowball’, or ‘rocks’ glass, the tumbler may be considered the iconic whisky glass. Holding between 4-10 fluid ounces, the slightly tapered bottom is weighted with thick glass to ensure a stable drink, and enables cocktail ingredients to be mixed. It’s shorter than the highball glass, and ideal for distilled spirits as it keeps the liquid close to the nose. You can enjoy single malt whisky and bourbon both neat and on the rocks in a clean-cut tumbler; glasses classified as ‘old fashioned’ tend to be made of finely-cut lead and lead-free crystal. In contrast to the Glencairn, the open cylindrical shape isn’t designed to hold the aromas, but is perfect for adding ingredients in making cocktails.

Snifter glass

The Snifter Glass

The ‘snifter’ is distinguished by its wide-bottom, narrow-top bowl shape set on a short stem. A unique feature of the glass is found in its rotund design: when filled with a serving of whisky, the liquid doesn’t spill when laid horizontally on a surface level. The short stem enables the glass to be cupped in the hand, warming the liquid and changing the experience, as the narrow rim captures all the aromas. This glass is perfect if you want to experiment with how subtle changes in heat impacts the aromas and flavours of your whisky.

Macallan Lalique Copita glass

The Tulip, or Copita Glass

For those who wish to appreciate the true nuances and depths of single malt whisky, the Tulip glass, or the ‘Copita’ is the vessel of choice. Its roots are found deep in the sherry bodegas of Spain, as the slim stemmed glass is traditionally used in sampling sherry. Master distillers and connoisseurs tend to use it as the stem–longer than that of the snifter– keeps the hand from warming the liquid. Alternatively, the glass can be cupped if desired, and the slightly narrowing shape up to the rim is perfect for both swirling and capturing the aromas. From nosing to tasting, the Copita is a versatile choice for whisky drinkers who appreciate a refined, understated experience.

Macallan Highball Glasses

The Highball Glass

Taller than the lowball tumbler glass, the highball has the same heavy bottom to allow for mixing. The increased height and capacity means that you can build serves designed for more ice. As a ‘highball’ is defined by its two-ingredients made up of a spirit and carbonated mixer, you can appreciate the simplicity of a scotch and soda or lemonade, perfect for a summer evening.

Space to Experiment

Whether you tend to enjoy your single malt whisky on the rocks, neat, or with a mixer, the details matter. Perhaps try the same whisky in different glassware, noticing how the nosing aromas and flavours change with the temperature, shape and material of the vessel you choose. Through refining your understanding of what influences the entire experience, each moment is appreciated and celebrated.