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Whisky & Glassware

Whisky & Glassware

We’ll cut to the chase here.

Whisky should be enjoyed from an awesome glass. No doubt. But, there is no need to get all narky about it. It’s just whisky after all, and a great number of glasses will do the job for you.

That said, there are still some basic do’s and don’ts. They’re not rules, coz we don’t want our whisky to come with rules – it’s meant to be fun after all – but, consider them guidelines for how you should serve as well as enjoy your favourite drams

So let’s play....



For me, this is the pick of the bunch and it’s the main glass we offer and serve whisky across our bars in the Speakeasy Group. The bulbous body, but narrow mouth allows you to enjoy the aromatics of the whisky and is a great serve for those who enjoy their whisky neat or with a dash of water. (It obviously is no good if you dig your whisky on ice).

The glass itself shares the same benefits as you’d find in most classic wine tasting glasses, but the stemless design and heavy bottom gives the glass more weight and it feels better in the hand – less delicate – than a wine tasting glass; something which in my opinion adds to its desirability as a whisky glass.

From the perspective of delivering the best sensory experience there are a number of glasses of similar shape that will offer you the same benefits, however, the majority tend to be stemmed and thus a bit too delicate and lacking some of the weight that many whisky drinkers want from their whisky glass.


Brandy Balloon

The good old brandy balloon, or snifter glass can be a fine companion to your whisky as well. Similarly to the Glencairn the brandy balloon comes with a bulbous body and a narrow mouth, however the body tends to be really large and the mouth quite wide as well when compared to a standard tasting glass.

I have a couple of issues with the brandy balloon:

  • Firstly I don’t think you get the full intense flavours from the whisky when poured into a large balloon. This is mostly true for large oversized snifters, as there are some smaller glasses that I have funds great for enjoying a good whisky
  • Second, as a brandy balloon can be quite large a standard 1 shot pour (30ml/1oz) almost looks beggarly in a large vessel such as the snifter.
  • Finally I find it can come across a bit too old-school, and a bit too showy. But this of course only my personal opinion

All that said, if a Glencairn or a tasting glass is not easily at hand, my choice of glass will be a small balloon for sure.


Rocks / Old fashioned

This is by far the most common glass top serve whisky in, but at home and in bars around the world, however, I think it’s worth pointing out that I think whisky should only ever be served in this glass if indeed it goes “on the rocks”.

Often straight edged, there is no narrowing at the top which allows for the aromas of the whisky to concentrate on your nose. Instead the straight edges direct the aromas to all sides making it more difficult to properly enjoy the aroma and thus the actual flavour of the whisky itself.

Once you pour whisky over ice however, you won’t be able to pick up on much in terms of aroma or delicate flavours anyway and so the rocks glass becomes the perfect vessel. I do not recommend serving whisky over ice in any other glass, so if whisky rocks is your poison, well boom baby – this is your glass.

However, if you dig yours neat or with a drop of water I recommend almost any other glass. If I am at a bar that only serves their whisky in rocks glasses I’ll even ask for a small wine glass that I can transfer the whisky into (yep, I am that level of obnoxious nerd, and I recommend you become one as well J ) This not only is a better vessel to enjoy a neat whisky in, but it also minimizes the risk of having a member of staff mistake your glass for being empty and walking away with 15-20ml of your whisky.

This brings me to my final point. If you’re asking for a neat Scotch in bar that serves their neat whisky in a rocks glass, look out for glassies, bar backs or wait staff who might collect your glass thinking it’s an empty glass of Scotch and coke. A neat whisky in a large rocks glass looks like an empty glass. (mega pet peeve of mine).

Regardless though: drink your whisky the way you like it, and above all keep drinking whisky.


Sven Almenning

Sven is the founder and co-owner of the Speakeasy Group, ANANAS, and Whisky Freaks, and has been writing and talking about whisky for well over a decade. He was inducted into the prestigious Keepers of the Quaich in 2018. His dog of 14 years is named Talisker

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