Types of Whiskey GlassesLast updated on 7/26/2023
In recent years, whiskey has experienced resurging popularity among Americans. As this oaky spirit continues to captivate palates, bar owners are adding whiskey glasses to their list of bar essentials. There are many whiskey glasses to choose from, and each is designed to highlight the richness and versatility of different whiskey drinks. To find the best glass for your application, we compiled a comprehensive guide to the different types of whiskey glasses and detail their unique benefits.Shop All Whiskey Glasses
What Type of Glass Is Best for Whiskey?
The best glasses for whiskey create tasting experiences by complementing the type of whiskey being served. As seen in the following section, there are many different types of whiskey glasses. Each is crafted with three factors in mind:
- Appearance - How the whiskey glass looks and feels highlights the appearance and presentation of the drink.
- Drinkability - The design determines how the drink flows when tilted. Some whiskey glasses feature narrow openings to reduce the amount of liquid in a sip, while others offer a wide opening perfect for serving mixed drinks.
- Nosing - The shape of the glass can either direct a whiskey's aroma toward the drinker's nose or into the air to vent the ethanol fumes that might be present. By smelling the whiskey in advance, the drinker detects different aromas and perfuming that may impact the overall flavor of the drink.
Types of Whiskey Glasses
By understanding the different types of whiskey glasses and their individual benefits, you can elevate your whiskey-tasting experience to new heights. Whether you prefer to sip your whiskey neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail, choosing the right glass can enhance the aroma, flavor, and overall enjoyment of this beloved spirit.
1. Highball Glass
Highball glasses, named for the cocktail of the same title, are tall glasses used for serving whiskey cocktails over ice. A highball glass holds anywhere from 8 to 12 ounces. Highball glasses have thick, stabilizing bases that prevent spills. Because of their height, the highball glass is best for cocktails with higher proportions of non-alcoholic mixers.
- Highball Glass Appearance: Heavy-weight, solid base, tall straight sides, wide opening
- Highball Glass Drinkability: High sip volume
- Highball Glass Nosing: Toward atmosphere
- Highball Glass Size: 8 to 12 ounces
- Highball Glass Uses: Whiskey cocktails
- Drinks Served in Highball Glasses: Highball, 7 and 7
2. Shot Glass
Shot glasses are meant for drinking a small amount of whiskey quickly and without ice. As a result, these glasses are great for high-volume bars. The small size of shot glasses means perfect portion control to help bartenders avoid over-pouring and wasting liquor.
- Shot Glass Appearance: Small size and straight sides made from various materials, including glass, stainless steel, or plastic
- Shot Glass Drinkability: Quick and concentrated consumption
- Shot Glass Nosing: Not made for nosing
- Shot Glass Size: 1 to 2 ounces
- Shot Glass Uses: Whisky tastings, measuring whiskey for cocktails
- Drinks Served in Shot Glasses: Shots of whiskey
3. Glencairn Glass
The Glencairn glass was the first style of whiskey glass the Scotch Whisky Association endorsed. Glencairn glasses are for tasting whiskey and feature a wide bottom to encourage warming and swirling while showing off the color of the whiskey. The narrowed tulip-like opening directs the aroma outward, aerating the whiskey and allowing the scent to reach the drinker before the flavor does. They're best for upscale establishments.
- Glencairn Glass Appearance: Light-weight, solid base, ballooned sides that narrow towards opening
- Glencairn Glass Drinkability: Low sip volume
- Glencairn Glass Nosing: Toward nose
- Glencairn Glass Size: 6.5 ounces
- Glencairn Glass Uses: Whiskey neat (no ice), upscale tasting experiences
- Drinks Served in Glencairn Glasses: Single Malt Whisky, Scotch, Single Barrel Bourbon
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4. Rocks Glass
An Old Fashioned glass (aka rocks glass or whiskey tumbler) is the standard choice for serving whiskey drinks. These whisky glasses are typically 7 to 12 ounces in capacity and can be used to serve whiskey neat, on the rocks, or in whiskey cocktails. This versatile glass has a wide rim to allow for mixing ingredients or adding ice cubes and whiskey stones.
- Rocks Glass Appearance: Heavy-weight, solid base, straight sides, wide opening
- Rocks Glass Drinkability: High sip volume
- Rocks Glass Nosing: Toward atmosphere
- Rocks Glass Size: 7 to 12 ounces
- Rocks Glass Uses: Whiskey neat (no ice), whiskey on the rocks (with ice), whiskey cocktails
- Drinks Served in Rocks Glasses: Old Fashioned, Whiskey Sour, Sazerac
5. Shooter Glass
A variation of the shot glass, bartenders serve double shots and layered shots in shooter glasses. With more space for ingredients and garnish than in a traditional shot glass, shooter glasses allow you to make creative whiskey shots.
- Shooter Glass Appearance: Light-weight, narrow, straight sides
- Shooter Glass Drinkability: High sip volume
- Shooter Glass Nosing: Toward atmosphere
- Shooter Glass Size: 2 ounces
- Shooter Glass Uses: Small amounts of whiskey consumed quickly
- Drinks Served in Shooter Glasses: Three Wise Men, Ruby Slipper
6. Cordial Glass
Similar to shot glasses, cordial glasses (aka tulip-shaped glasses) are used to serve strong spirits without ice, but they have a more formal appearance than a shot glass. Cordial glasses are one to two ounces and limit the quantity of alcohol consumed, perfect for sipping spirits like brandy. Typically stemmed, cordial glasses are easy for mingling guests to hold while participating in a whiskey tasting.
- Cordial Glass Appearance: Light-weight, small stemmed base, sides flare out into the wide opening
- Cordial Glass Drinkability: Low sip volume
- Cordial Glass Size: 1.5 to 2 ounces
- Cordial Glass Uses: Small amounts of spirits sipped over time
- Drinks Served in Cordial Glasses: Brandy, Sherry
- Snifter Glass Appearance: Medium-weight, solid stemmed base, ballooned sides, narrow opening
- Snifter Glass Drinkability: Low sip volume
- Snifter Glass Nosing: Toward nose
- Snifter Glass Size: 6 to 8 ounces
- Snifter Glass Uses: Whiskey neat (no ice), upscale tasting experiences
- Drinks Served in Snifter Glasses: Cordials, Brandy, Cognac
7. Snifter Glass
A type of whiskey tasting glass, snifter glasses cater to seasoned whiskey drinkers who want to savor the full complexity of their whiskey. The snifter glass is a short, stemmed glass with a wide bottom and narrow top. The slightly ballooned shape highlights and almost magnifies the color of the spirit while providing the perfect shape to swirl the drink in the glass. Perfect for upscale venues with little customer turnover, these glasses are suitable for slowly savoring top-shelf whiskeys or holding whiskey tastings.
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Choosing the right glass can maximize the flavor and visual appeal of your whiskey and whiskey cocktails. If you’re ready to start a whiskey service, use this guide to help you make an informed decision when stocking your glassware.