The choice of a single malt whisky glass is more important than you may think. Whereas most drink glasses serve nothing more than to prevent your liquid from puddling onto your tabletop, a malt whisky glass is designed to maximize the senses of smell and taste of your malt.
A good malt glass will be reasonably wide at the base to give the whisky a large surface area for the aroma to escape, and the taper off at the top of the glass in order to concentrate the aromas into your nose. The ‘nose’ of the whisky is important even after you’ve started your sip. The smell and taste work together to create the full experience. Adding water, even just a few drops, creates a reaction that will bring out the aromas, especially at cask strength. At 40%, your malt will still be helped by a slight drop of distilled water. Ice will hinder the whisky flavors. Some glasses also have a lip that helps the malt reach the tip of your tongue.
The proper glassware is as unique to the individual as the choice of whisky, so consider this as nothing more than a guide.
Nosing – Good – Does a decent job
Tasting – Average – The narrow top makes it difficult to smell and drink at the same time
Durability – Average – It will survive a few tips, until the last one
Portability – Terrible – Long and stemmy. Not easy
Nosing – Average – The shape doesn’t do anything to concentrate the vapors
Tasting – Excellent – The curved lip sends whisky to the tip of your tongue
Durability – Terrible – The glass is as tipsy as an Irishman and the lip is the first thing to hit the countertop. The thin glass will shatter on verbal command.
See results from a Riedel toast.
Portability – Poor – Takes up a lot of space. Even more if you don’t want it to break.
Nosing – Average – It’s a miniature design of something that works well. Great if you have a little nose.
Tasting – Average – It gets the job done.
Durability – Excellent – Virtually indestructible… except with a toddler
Portability – Excellent – You can fit 10 in your pockets.
Nosing – Good – The shape pays a few respects to the nose
Tasting – Good – It’s a simple shape, but is the correct size.
Durability – Excellent – Has been known to survive a drop onto concrete. It bounces.
Portability – Good – Easily pocketed.
Nosing – Terrible – Big wide glass spreads the vapors to your ears in case you grow smell-drums in there.
Tasting – Terrible – Let’s face it, the drammer that uses this is probably drinking a 3/4 mini-bottle of Dewar’s found in the parking lot of a Motley Crue concert. Who’d want to taste that anyway?
Durability – Excellent – It’s a big-honking piece of Chinese glass
Portability – Poor – Why? Get one wherever you are going. Get a dixie cup.