Types of Whiskey Glasses

Whiskey. Most people either love it or they hate it, and among those that can palate this oaky alcohol, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more diverse range of drinkers. Whether neat or on the rocks, savored or straight down the hatch, you'll need the right glass for the right customer, and there are several options to choose from:

1. The Old Fashioned Glass

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  • For drinking whiskey neat (no ice)
  • For drinking whiskey on the rocks (with ice)
  • For drinking whiskey in cocktails

The quintessential whiskey glass. Whether you like it neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails like the "old fashioned" from which it gets its name, this glass gets the job done. Design-wise it is all utility; trading the flash and flair of fancier glasses for (usually) straight sides, a wide brim that allows the whiskey's aromatics to work a little bit on straight pours, and a super thick base to handle mixed and muddled cocktails.


2. The Rocks Glass

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  • For drinking whiskey on the rocks (with ice)

Rocks and old fashioned glasses are very similar, and sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. But generally speaking rocks glasses are a little bit smaller, since the idea is to serve the liquor by itself “on the rocks.” Since the whiskey is standing alone and doesn't have other things mixed in, the glass doesn't need to be as big.

That said, there are some "rocks" glasses that are as big or bigger than “old fashioned” glasses and could easily handle a cocktail, so as long as you've got a glass that meets the needs of your customer, you're good to go.


3. The Shot Glass

  • For fast ingestion

Some prefer to savor the experience of going to a bar or a social event rather than to savor their whiskey, and for this customer, there is the shot glass. There is no enjoying the oaky richness, no meditating on the smoky aroma, just whiskey.

These glasses feature a small volume along with a thick base to stand up to constant use, being one of the most called-for glasses in a bartender's arsenal.


4. The High Ball Glass

  • For drinking whiskey in cocktails

Also called a hi ball glass, this one is for those who want their whiskey with a little less tannin and a little more sour mix. For cocktails where a normal rocks or old fashioned glass can't cut it, a high ball fits the bill—you still get the simple styling and a thick base for mixing and muddling, just in a taller profile for more ice and drink ingredients.


5. Snifter Glasses and Glencairn Glasses

  • For drinking whiskey neat (no ice)
  • Upscale use

Can you take a swig of whiskey and tell if it's single malt or blended from the taste? Have you been described or described yourself as a “whiskey aficionado?” Does the thought of a “whiskey fizz” make you shudder? If you answered yes to these questions, forget everything you just read and skip straight to one of these glasses.

Glencairn Glasses are great for customers who like to savor the little nuances of each pour; a wide-based tulip design does two things, making it stable while essentially funneling the aroma to your nose (since a lot of what we taste is influenced by smell). A stemmed base also lets you swirl, adding oxygen to the drink and further enhancing the smell/taste experience. It's particularly great for single malt whiskeys. Don't even think about doing a mixed drink in it.

Snifter Glasses are typically used for brandy, but are often lumped in with other specialty whiskey glasses and do essentially the same thing—they feature a similar tulip design to direct the aroma to your nose, a stem to help drinkers swirl their beverage, and like the Glencairn they just look classy too.




Related resources: 

Top Eight Tips for Running a Successful Bar 

How to Hire a Bartender