Tuesday, 7 February 2017



Champagne, Cognac, Wine . . . each type of liquor has its own glass. Yet Whisky, the world’s most complex spirit can be found served in anything from highball tumblers to Paris goblets to Tequila shot glasses. 

Only the connoisseur of Malt Whisky and the sybarite know that Scotch Malt Whisky is composed of FIVE elements: The Colour, the Nose, the Serpent waiting to be released, the Palate and the Finish. It was when Malt Whiskies came into the limelight some 25 years ago that sellers realised that they had been sleeping, since most malts were used to glamorise the Scotch Whisky Blends market. Single Malt drinkers out of tumblers, wine and shot glasses were immediately picked out as the nouveau riche, moneyed persons with no class! And certainly No Taste!!  

The Glencairn Whisky Glass is a revolutionary whisky glass that really lets one savour the taste and complexity of fine whisky. These are the ONLY GLASSES for Single Malt Whiskies. With the tapered mouth, you are able to really sniff all nuances the whisky has to offer. Any malt advocate will love this glass! Why then, do some so-called whisky ‘connoisseurs’ spend thousands on the most complex, rewarding, pleasure-giving liquids yet contrived by humanity, and then drink them from tumblers? “Philistines!” says Andy Davidson. “Tumblers are useless when it comes to focusing or enhancing the taste experience of whisky. They were originally used to prevent you from smelling bad whisky.

He should know. In 1976, his father, Raymond Davidson, saw this lacuna and designed a glass, but imperfect, as he called it. He then personally went to the top ‘noses’ or blenders of the Scotch Whisky industry with his design and asked them for their opinions. Meeting failure after failure as the so called cognoscenti stuck to tumblers, it took 25 years and one generation of Malt Whisky enthusiasts to realise its true value. After extensive interaction and experiments, Andy Davidson’s Glencairn Crystal solved the problem of identifying the ideal glass for whisky Andy came out of the design phase and, with the blessings of the top five blenders of Scotch Whisky, went to market in 2001.  

The Glencairn Glass

Today the Glencairn Glass can be found at every distillery in Scotland, Ireland, Wales as well as most in the USA. In 2006 the glass won the Queen's Award for innovation. 

The shape of the Glencairn whisky glass is derived from the traditional nosing copitas used in whisky labs around Scotland, a style lovingly developed by Glencairn Crystal Ltd, Scotland for drinking whisky. The problem with the copitas were that they were unstable long-stemmed glasses and would break frequently. The Glencairn glass has no such slim and fragile stem, but a comfy and compact solid crystal base, which prevents the glass from toppling over and breaking and which fits snugly in your fingers. This is clearly visible in the photographs of the Glencairn glass in this post. 

A Copita
The capacity of a typical Glencairn whisky glass is approximately 175 ml, and is intended to hold approximately 50 ml of liquid, 1/14th of the capacity of 700 ml bottles of Scotch Whisky in the EU and 1/15th that of an American or Indian 750 ml bottle.

The 175 ml glass is 115 mm (4.5 in) in height and is available in two versions: 24% lead crystal and lead-free crystal glass. The vast majority of glasses in circulation are of the lead-free crystal variety. The Glencairn glass was originally designed for pub/bar use so it is a sturdy little glass. The bottom is heavy so it's not easily tipped over and is easily grasped. It feels good in the hand. My six Glencairn glasses are crafted from lead-free crystal.

The Glencairn glass is the ONLY glass on the market that is designed specifically for drinking whisky and endorsed as such by the Scotch Whisky Association; it is used by every whisky company in Scotland and Ireland and many in the USA for their Bourbons. 

The traditional style of whisky glass is a cut crystal Old Fashioned whisky tumbler, the most commonly used type of whisky glass. However, a tumbler does not hold and focus the aromas as much for the experience of the drinker as the Glencairn, which curve inwards towards the top of the glass. Inward-curved glasses are the preferred choice of connoisseurs who consider the aroma especially important to the experience of a whisky. 

If you fancy yourself a SMSW lover, you’d best have a small stock of Glencairn glasses at hand. Six would be about right. Do please remember that these are nosing and tasting glasses. While they can certainly be used as glasses for drinking SMSW, you could also use filigreed balloon glasses, like those used for Cognac and wine. The overriding factor is that they should, like the Glencairn glass, be arcing inward towards the human nose.  

Beware of fraud! SCAM artists sell GLENCARIN glasses, ripping off the unknowing customer. They buy these glasses from Alibaba at $0.5-1.5 per glass, the wholesale price for a minimum of 200-5000 glasses and then sell them at 1500% profit. 

These glasses sound tinny when tapped with a fork or spoon. They are every bit as good as Glencairn glasses in terms of utility, but lack the class and longevity of the original brand. When washed, they do not appear to shine as crystal glasses should, but need a dedicated rub with flannel.