Thanks to the current state of the world, many of us are spending a lot more time at home nowadays. And for those with a taste for spirits, like whiskey, that makes getting a good drink a bit more complicated. However, if you’ve got a proper home bar setup, imbibing your favorite liquor and/or cocktail is a much simpler prospect.
While there are plenty of pieces of gear you might need to have a proper at-home bartending kit, you don’t necessarily have to be a full-blown mixologist to enjoy your whiskey collection. In fact, if your liquor is up to snuff, there’s really only one absolutely necessary addition: glassware. Of course, different bars and different beverages call for specific glasses, which is why we’ve organized the 20 top options on our list of the best whiskey glasses.
Why Whiskey Glassware Is Important
A Proper Spirit Vessel
To the layman, a glass is a glass is a glass. But a seasoned imbiber understands that having a stiff drink is much more than just a means of getting tipsy. In fact, it’s a complete sensory experience. And each part makes a difference in said experience, including the heft of the glass in your hand, the appearance of the spirit sloshing about, the aromas the drink elicits, the evolving flavors from the moment the drink hits your lips until you swallow it, and — of course — that warm and fuzzy feeling of cultivating the perfect buzz.
Believe it or not, the glassware you choose can make a pretty tremendous difference in all of that. In fact, there’s actual definable science behind some of it — like glasses shaped to open up the bouquet of a single malt scotch, those that eliminate the harshness of ethanol evaporating from a spirit, and even ones made to keep the oils on your skin from contaminating your liquor of choice. Pick the wrong glass and your drinking endeavor might suffer for a litany of reasons. Pick the right one and it can elevate the whole experience. We can’t tell you which glasses are right for you but pay attention to the smaller details, the purpose of their design, and your own personal tastes and you might just realize that a glass isn’t just a glass — it’s an integral part of what makes a drink worth drinking. For reference, we’ve outlined the three most popular glass shapes and their purposes below:
Snifter: This type of glass is characterized by a wide bottom and a slimmer top/opening. There are a number of variations on this type of glass — including both the Glencairn and NEAT varieties — but they all serve the same basic function. That is to say, they’re designed to let whisky breathe and develop its bouquet as you sip.
Tulip: Tulip glasses are remarkably similar to snifters save for one defining difference: their stem. Traditionally, snifters have a stout stem or no stem at all, whereas tulip glasses tend to have longer stems. The benefit to these is that they allow you to hold your glass in a way that keeps your body heat from warming up your drink and it makes it much less likely for the oils in your hand to contaminate the beverage, as you will likely not accidentally touch the rim of the glass.
Tumbler: This type of glass is known by many names — including rocks, old-fashioned, and lowball — but they all refer to the same basic shape. Marked by a solid base and short sides — ideal for holding around 6-8 ounces of liquid — this type of glass is probably the most recognizable of the three. A staple of the whiskey world, it is not unusual to see whiskey drank neat, on the rocks, or even in a classic cocktail (like an Old Fashioned or Sazerac) out of this type of glassware.
The NEAT Glass
Don’t let the fact that this glass is on the lower end of the budgetary spectrum fool you; it has definitely earned its spot on our list. And that’s because this particular glass is widely considered the standard for whiskey competitions and is used by the judges. The NEAT Glass was specially developed to allow ethanol to waft off the spirit inside, giving drinkers the ability to enjoy all facets of the beverage in as pure a form as possible. Keep in mind, if cocktails are your style, this might not be the glass for you.
Corkcicle Whiskey Wedge
This particular glass isn’t special itself, but the accessory that comes with it makes all the difference. If you prefer your whiskey on the rocks, but you don’t like how easily traditional ice waters it down, you’ll love the Corkcicle Whiskey Wedge, as it comes with a mold that allows you to freeze a slow-melting wedge of ice directly inside of the glass. That way, your whiskey will chill more quickly with less contamination — and that can make all the difference.
Dorset Double Old-Fashioned Glasses
If you prefer traditional mid-century design, especially when it comes to your drinkware, then the Dorset Double Old-Fashioned Glasses are probably going to spark some interest. Crafted from hand-cut lead crystal, these tumblers have a sturdy base and enough of a capacity to suit both neat whisky, as well as traditional whiskey cocktails — lending a bit of versatility therein. However, the faceted exterior adds a bit of style and texture that helps elevate them above similarly-shaped rocks glasses.
Glencairn Crystal Canadian Whisky Glass
For those who are unaware, whisky from different regions has different properties based on both the ingredients and processes used in the distillation process. As such, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that different glassware would be necessary to reflect the uniqueness of a regional beverage. And that’s exactly the cases with this particular Glencairn crystal whisky glass — which was developed and designed specifically to bring out the best in Canadian whisky.
Glencairn Whisky Glass
Widely used and widely respected by those in the know around the world, the Glencairn Whiskey Glass — which won a prestigious innovation award back in 2006 (only a few years after it was first conceived) — is heralded as the official glass of whisky. It’s shape was crafted specifically to bring out the best in traditional spirits — namely scotch and single malts — and is marked by an extended tulip shape with a stout-yet-sturdy base. If you like your whisky peated and you don’t own a Glencairn glass, it’s time to change that. In fact, whatever kind of whiskey you like the most, you should still probably own one or two of these.
Hotel Astor Crystal Whiskey Glass
Back in 1904, millionaire William Waldorf Astor opened the Hotel Astor in Times Square — dead in the heart of NYC. Inside, he also established what would become the legendary Men-Only Bar, known for its strong drinks and spectacular service. While the outdated boy’s club rules have since been overturned, there’s still something to be said for the history therein. And that’s where these crystal whiskey glasses come into play; they are based on the very glassware used in the now-defunct bar. Even without the history, these glasses would be special, but the story certainly puts them over the top.
Libbey Cut Cocktails Passage Rocks Glasses
Much of our cocktail culture can be traced back to the Roaring ’20s — you know, the pre-Prohibition era that The Great Gatsby comes from. That time period also birthed one of the most distinct and recognizable style and architectural movements of all time: Art Deco. And these rocks glasses take their design inspiration directly from that era, boasting geometric etchings that both set them apart visually and add a bit of texture that makes them a delight to hold in your hand. Of course, they’re also great at containing a drink or two, which is really the whole point, anyhow.
Riedel VINUM Whisky Glass
While the Riedel VINUM Whisky Glass is clearly a thing of beauty — boasting a truncated stem, a thistle shape, and elegant curves — it was actually designed as a purpose-driven vessel made to bring out the best in your single malt whisky. And while that’s enough to put this glassware on our radar, it comes with the added benefit of being dishwasher safe, so you don’t have to worry about trying to handwash them after you’ve had a few drams.
North Drinkware Mountain Tumblers
Traditional rocks glasses are really great at containing your whiskey, some ice, and even some mixers. However, they can be a little bit boring in their appearance. If you prefer something that’s a bit more interesting and playful, the folks at North Drinkware have managed to add some unique design elements to their tumblers without sacrificing their form or functionality, You see, in the base of these glasses, they’ve molded the shapes of iconic mountains using real topographical maps for extreme accuracy. There are nine different mountains and one lake — all real and all gorgeous — and they’re sure to be a hit with those who have a taste for the great outdoors.
Norlan Whisky Glass
We’ve been known to say that everything is better in black. As it turns out, that rings true for whisky glasses, as well — as is evidenced by the Norlan Whisky Glass you see here. Inspired by the natural shapes found in nature, digitally designed, and crafted in conjunction with master distiller Jim McEwan, this glass was specially made to bring out the best in whatever whiskey or whisky you pour into it. Built from mouth-blown double-walled borosilicate glass, these glasses are finished with a matte black coating. of course, if you like their form but you want clear glass, they offer an uncoated version, as well.
Snowe Short Tumblers
A bit taller and thinner than more traditional rocks glasses, the Snowe Short Tumblers are a bit easier to fit into the palm of your hand, but they’re still plenty sturdy thanks to their weighted bottom. What makes these ones really special outside of their form, however, is that — though they’re still made from high-quality Italian crystal — they’re actually dishwasher safe. While that doesn’t necessarily sound all that groundbreaking, it is actually a bit unusual and gives these glasses a convenient edge that helps set them apart.
Czech Bohemian Crystal Glass
As we’ve mentioned, a bit part of sipping whiskey is the visual experience. And while we might not call it a make-or-break element to have a unique appearance to your glassware of choice, it definitely doesn’t hurt things — especially if you’re hoping to set your home bar apart. That’s where these crystal glasses come into play. Their twisting form is playful, but the crystal glass, sturdy base, and 11-ounce capacity are still plenty reliable and useful, whether you want to have your scotch neat or a rye whiskey old fashioned.
iittala Ultima Thule Footed On The Rocks Glass
One of our favorite marks of true craftsmanship is when designers take elements of their homeland and imbue them in the products they create. And that’s on full display in the iittala Ultima Thule Footed On The Rocks Glasses. Made to represent Scandinavia and the “distinct expressive power of Finnish glass,” these glasses are actually crafted using wooden molds — hence their unique appearance and organic design lines. And while their exceptional appearance and construction certainly sets them apart, they also have the added bonus of feet that elevate the glasses off of surfaces, thus helping to avoid the issue of condensation on your precious coffee table, bar top, or wherever else.
Orrefors Intermezzo Double Old Fashioned Glass
Sometimes, all you need to elevate your drinking experience is a subtle design element — like the little blue orb found at the base of the Orrefors Intermezzo Double Old Fashioned Glass. Of course, that’s hardly the only thing this tumbler has going for it. In fact, designed by Erika Lagerbielke in 1985, this is one of the best-selling whiskey glasses of all time with over ten million glasses sold in this collection worldwide. And that kind of popularity doesn’t happen by accident, especially when you know that it’s crafted from ultra-high-quality crystal made using traditional methods.
Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Glass
For some of us, drinking whiskey isn’t about putting on a show. It’s about enjoying your spirit in its purest form without any extraneous bells and whistles. If you’re the type who wants to let your booze do the talking, you might appreciate the simplicity and reliability of the Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Glass you see here. But don’t let the simplicity and minimalism fool you; it’s still beautifully crafted from high-end crystal glass — made from a unique combination of titanium and zirconium oxide, in fact. It also has a sturdy construction with a hefty base for balance and security.
Lorren Siena Crystal Double Old Fashion Glass
If you want to feel like a billionaire or just get a small taste of what life is like for fictional man’s man Don Draper, the Lorren Siena Crystal Double Old Fashion Glass might be the whiskey glassware for you. Crafted from lead-free crystal and made in the Tuscan region of Italy, these stunning faceted glasses have an added stylistic touch that serves to elevate them above their competition: a 24k gold band around the rim. Pair that with a 9-ounce capacity and these high-end lowballs are some of the best whisky glasses around.
Sagaform Rocking Whiskey Tumbler Glasses
Since whiskey-drinking is both a full sensory experience and a stylistic choice, your glassware should also serve as a reflection of you. And while some folks want to be stuffy and turn up their noses, others understand that a part of drinking is having fun with it. For the latter group, we’ve got the Sagaform Rocking Whiskey Tumbler Glasses. These rocks glasses — which are much better suited to neat or on-the-rocks drinking — are designed to roll around the outside edge, rather than sit flat. And while that makes for a bit of fun, it also serves another interesting purpose: rolling your whiskey can actually help open up its bouquet and flavors for a more complete experience.
Ralph Lauren Mercer Double Old Fashioned Glasses
Best known for his wildly successful decades-long career in the fashion industry, Ralph Lauren actually also helmed an impressive home goods collection. And, wouldn’t you know it, one of the best inclusions in that collection is these Mercer Double Old Fashioned Glasses. These octagonal tumblers are crafted from lead crystal, they’re a bit more capacious than much of their competition with 11.16 ounces of space, and their both clear and fogged faceted surfaces are both pleasing to behold and touch.
Blade Runner Whiskey Glasses
If you’re a fan of the 1980s cult phenomenon Blade Runner, you may recognize these whiskey glasses as the ones used by Harrison Ford on-screen. However, even if you don’t care for big-budget sci-fi masterpieces, these are still some of the most beautiful and well-built rocks glasses around. In fact, they’re actually crafted from hand-blown crystal glass in Italy. If you want to ensure your home bar stands out from the pack, these whiskey glasses are a good place to start.
Waterford Crystal Lismore Old Fashioned Glasses
If you want the purest, most traditional upscale whisky drinking experience, you absolutely need to get your hands on genuine crystal rocks glasses, like these ones from fabled crystal-manufacturing brand Waterford. Yes, they are tremendously expensive when compared to most other options on our list, but they’re absolutely gorgeous to behold, they’re both durable and substantial, and they’ll impress just about any visitor you might have.
The 8 Best Whiskey Subscription Boxes
Now that you’ve got the perfect glassware picked out, it’s time to make sure you have a spirit to pour into them. And you’ll never be wanting for a stiff drink so long as you sign up for one of the best whiskey subscription services.
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