It’s a mysterious but indisputable truth that the best whiskey glasses make whatever is inside them—whiskey, rum, a classic cocktail like an old fashioned, a mocktail—taste better. Ultimately, choosing the ideal glass is a deeply personal choice. It comes down to “personal preference of how the whiskey will be enjoyed,” explains Jordan Zimmerman, the Premium Whiskey Education & Advocacy Lead at Brown-Forman Corporation.
A great whiskey glass isn’t just an aesthetic matter, although loving the look and feel is essential. The best barware can enhance the experience of drinking by making your spirit taste and smell more like itself. It highlights, enhances, and celebrates the layers of flavor and aroma in excellent whiskey.
“Sometimes I'm drinking whiskey to professionally evaluate it,” says Zimmerman. “Sometimes I'm drinking whiskey on a casual night out with friends and want to do so over a rock or two. Sometimes, I want to sip my whiskey poolside and in a cocktail. Each occasion calls for a different ‘best whiskey glass."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Riedel O Wine Whisky Tumbler
- Great price
- Elegant design
- Machine made
- Simple look not for everyone
Why we chose it: Versatile enough for everyday use and large enough for your favorite whiskey cocktail, these glasses are handsome and classic, at a surprisingly affordable price.
With clean, clear lines and a thin, elegant, glass body, these glasses look gorgeous on your bar, on your table, and in your hand. This is a simple, sleek, and modern version of the classic rocks glass expertly designed for whiskey.
The straight sides direct the aromas upward, and the lighter-weight base feels great in your palm. This adornment-free style keeps the focus on the spirit inside. It’s dishwasher-safe and versatile enough to use for a cocktail, mocktail, or sippable rum.
Best Budget: Glencarin
- The traditional "nosing" glass used by master whiskey blenders
- Perfect for tasting, smelling, swirling, and admiring
- Function over style - this glass looks rather utilitarian
Why we chose it: The perfect, classic glass for sniffing and swirling your spirit like a pro, opening up the whiskey’s multilayered aromas. The wide bowl allows for appreciation of the whiskey’s color, and this glass is beloved by master blenders and whiskey connoisseurs the world over.
“When I want to evaluate a whiskey for its flavor, character, and aroma, especially if I'm looking to draw conclusions for educational or professional purposes, I utilize a classic Glencarin glass,” says Zimmerman.
The Glencarin is a trusty staple among whiskey enthusiasts and educators. “It is specifically designed to allow for increased oxygen contact with the surface of the spirit in the bell-shaped bowl of the glass. It then tapers upward to concentrate all of those delicious volatile molecules in the glass's ‘waist,’” according to Zimmerman. The top of the glass opens to allow the ethanol to escape before the bouquet hits your nose, effectively turning down the volume on the intensity of the ethanol while amplifying the whiskey's unique aromas.
Because what we evaluate as flavor in whiskey is so inextricably linked to aroma, Glencairn glasses (and many newer variants on the Glencairn's classic shape), allow that deeply satisfying sniff of all the complexities in your glass.
Best for Japanese Whisky: Yuki
Best for Japanese Whisky
- Lovely packaging
- Handmade and unique
- Slightly unusual shape
Why we chose it: Modeled after reflections of the snow melting in the spring sunshine, these hand-blown glasses are truly gorgeous.
Yuki means snow in Japanese, and the glass’s design is inspired by the winter’s final snow. They’re made by hand with Japanese master Edo Kiriko's craftsman technique, passed down through the generations for more than two centuries. The glasses come individually packaged in wooden cases, making them exceptional gifts. The color of the whiskey shimmers through and the glass provides a substantial feel in the hand as you savor your drink. They have a wider mouth than a traditional tumbler, with a substantial base that feels as serious as the very best Japanese whisky.
Best for Bourbon: Clayton & Crume
Best for Bourbon
- Handcrafted in Louisville, Kentucky with high quality leather
- Monogrammed, homey, and beautiful
- Cannot see spirit through leather
Why we chose it: It makes perfect sense to drink classic American whiskey—bourbon—from these handsome leather glasses made by hand in Kentucky. Clayton & Crume’s rocks glasses are cozy yet sophisticated.
These are Zimmerman’s everyday whiskey tumblers. She says the monogrammed, leather-bound rocks glasses from Clayton & Crume are “fancier than most but feel very warm and personal.” She received these as a Christmas gift the year she purchased her first home in Kentucky. Clayton & Crume is a Louisville-based brand primarily known for its exceptional leather goods. “I sip a lot of whiskey from Kentucky, and doing so from a handcrafted, hometown product somehow just feels right,” Zimmerman adds.
They’re made with full-grain leather, robust stitching, and solid brass rivets. The monograms come included in the price, which makes these a thoughtful gift (for yourself or others).
Best Double-Walled: Norlan Glass
Best Double Walled
- Nuanced design for whiskey nerds
- Captures flavors and aromas
- Potentially overengineered for everyday whiskey enjoyment
Norlan glasses are crafted with two molded pieces of borosilicate glass fused together across a linear flame. The result reflects the whiskey back up through the rim, giving it a shimmering splendor and capturing its symphony of tastes.
“Ostensibly, you get the concentration of aromas without the awkward head tilt of the Glencairn. They even make an opaque black version of the glass to make a ‘blind whiskey tasting’ more properly live up to its name,” Zimmerman adds.
Jim McEwan, the former master distiller of Bruichladdich, created the Norlan to celebrate the array of whiskey’s complex flavors and aromatics. Double walls prevent your hand from increasing the temperature and provide a nice, weighty heft. It’s made of handblown borosilicate glass (the same material as Pyrex), also excellent for temperature regulation. Plus, this glass looks nifty.
“The science is there for a reason, and glass shape can affect how the whiskey 'shows up' on the palate,” Zimmerman explains. “However, the differences will be subtle. It takes a trained palate to appreciate how engineering can highlight the idiosyncrasies of a spirit.”
Best Splurge: Baccarat Nancy Tumblers
- Gorgeous, classic design
- Elegant crystal
- Surprisingly durable
- Very expensive
Why we chose it: Baccarat conveys quality, uniqueness, and beauty. These tumblers are no exception; they’re heirloom pieces worthy of top-shelf pours and the most special occasions.
The Bishop of Metz founded the glassware company Baccarat in 1765 to bring business to the French town of Baccarat. “There's something so mind-boggling and worship-worthy about Baccarat's ability to craft paper-thin crystal edges on a glass that still retains heft,” says Zimmerman. “I pull these out and polish them up for special occasions.”
They’re objects of beauty—the embossed clear crystal gives great depth and shimmer to the whiskey as it catches the light. (Baccarat’s crystal is more porous than glass, so light refracts off of it spectacularly.) The precise geometry of crosshatched latticework is evidence of impressive craftsmanship.
Best Hand-Blown: Huckberry Whiskey Peaks
- Imaginative and fun
- Each glass is unique
- Specific design not for everyone
Why we chose it: Made of lightweight yet durable premium glass, these whiskey glasses evoke epic journeys to lands near and far.
These hand-blown glasses feature indented bottoms that trace topographic silhouettes of mountains around the world: Half Dome, Whitney, the Matterhorn, Kilimanjaro, Everest, and more. Unique and eye-catching, they were dreamed up in 2016 to commemorate the National Parks Service centennial. Designed in San Francisco and made in Chengde City, China, they take the idea of raising a glass to heart.
Best Old Fashioned: Waterford Lismore Tumbler
Best Old Fashioned
- Classic and elegant
Why we chose it: Upgrade your bar with these iconic glasses, which boast a combination of brilliance and clarity.
The Waterford Lismore has a 60-year heritage, and it’s a classic for good reason—it’s pretty and timeless. These versatile glasses combine the intricate detailing of Lismore's signature diamond and wedge cuts with the comforting weight of Waterford's hand-crafted fine crystal, awesome for spirits on the rocks or a classic cocktail.
Things to Consider Before Buying Whiskey Glasses
Handblown crystal whiskey glasses are a serious investment (and a thoughtful wedding gift), while molded glass is a cheaper option. Fun fact: crystal looks delicate, but it’s actually stronger than glass.
A tumbler is the most ubiquitous, versatile whiskey glass shape. It’s not ideal for “noshing,” but it’s great for cocktails and easy drinking. Glencairns are ideal for whiskey tastings and professionals. A tulip glass is based on the copita—the traditional Spanish sherry glass—and like the Glencairn, is crafted for sniffing and swirling. You might also see whiskey served in a snifter, also called a balloon, brandy bowl, or cognac glass.
The NEAT glass (Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology), is precisely engineered to squeeze the lighter molecules of ethanol out of its opening, leaving the heavier, more delicious molecules of whisky behind. The glass’s creators “used a complex algorithm of geometry and chemical science to build a glass that increased the classic glencairns oxygen-to-spirit ratio, while shortening the space between the drinker's nose and the spirits itself,” Zimmerman explains.
There’s also a matter of personal taste—do you gravitate towards clean lines and sleek look, or do you like the heavy feel and detailed etching of an old-school masculine old-fashioned glass? There are fun whiskey glasses out there to suit every sort of vibe, in nearly every shape and size, with etchings, monograms, colors, jewels, and whatever else makes you happy.
Should I chill my whiskey glasses before pouring it?
This comes down to personal preference. Experts consider whiskey served best at 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit, around room temperature, so there’s certainly no need to chill your glass. But if you love a cold, refreshing drink, go ahead and pop your glass in the fridge for a frosty effect.
What are whiskey stones and do I need them?
Whiskey on the rocks is a tried-and-true drink, although whiskey experts agree that ice degrades some of whiskey’s complex flavors. Try adding big cubes or spheres to your drink, which melt slower, and water down your drink less than standard issue ice cubes.
Another option: invest in whiskey stones, also called whiskey rocks. They’re a reusable alternative to ice cubes, and they’ll chill your drink without diluting the whiskey’s flavor. Keep them in your freezer, and when you’re ready to serve your drink, drop the stones into your glass to get a cool sip at full strength.
Pro tip: some master blenders use a few drops of water to dilute the whiskey down to 20% ABV to help release all its subtle flavors and aromas.
Can I use the same glasses for bourbon and whiskey?
Zimmerman says “absolutely, although I'm sure some experts and purists would disagree with me on this one.” For her “super high-end pours (for instance, I'm nursing a bottle of 2015 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon), I do find myself gravitating to a tasting glass like a Glencairn. It reminds me to slow down and spend more time with the liquid, savoring the craftsmanship and rarity of the experience.”
Drinking whiskey is a full sensory experience, from the flavors to the aromas, to the shimmering color of the spirit, to the way your glass feels in your hand. A glass you love is a personal choice, and it will elevate your next sipping sesh and provide joy for years to come.
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