11 Different Types of Whiskey Glasses

Different Types Of Whiskey Glasses
Photo by jarmoluk

With whiskey’s recent return to American popularity, it’s important to know how to serve this oaky spirit to best show off its richness and versatility.

When it comes to transporting whiskey from bottle to mouth, a glass is just a glass. Think about it again.

While there are certainly marketing and personal preferences involved, the size, shape, and even the type of whiskey glass can significantly affect taste and smell perception.

If you’re going to spend big bucks on high-quality whiskey, To get the most out of your tasting experience, make sure you have the proper vessel.

Different types of whiskey glasses are designed to enhance the experience of drinking and nosing whiskey.

The most popular glasses have a bulbous shape that collects aromas and directs them through a narrow rim.

Table of Contents

Why Are There Many Different Types Of Whiskey Glasses?

Since distillers have been trying to make the perfect whiskey, drinkers have been trying to find the perfect glass for their perfect whisky.

While the differences in taste may be imperceptible to a beginner, there is definitely a science behind whiskey glassware. It all comes down to smell.

Even if you’re new to whiskey, you’ve probably seen the same phenomenon in a wine bar or proper craft brewery.

Different types of whiskey glasses in different shapes and sizes are designed to enhance the flavor of the selected drink.

Although there isn’t really a special whiskey glass designed for a particular style of whiskey, they are generally all meant to enhance the tasting experience.

While things like shaft length or size come down to personal preference, you’ll notice a lot of similar features when it comes to the overall curved shape.

The intention is to really focus the underlying aromas towards your nose, thus intensifying and concentrating the scent.

As you may know, much of our perception of taste is actually guided by our sense of smell. If you’ve ever stuffed your nose (or caught a cold) and tried one of your favorite drinks, your tasting experience has probably been entirely different, and the flavors were perhaps muted.

Choosing the right whiskey glass can really help enhance the enjoyment of those who drink, and there is a shape and style for the different types of whiskey glasses for every whiskey lover.

They range from the compact Glencairn to the extravagant snifter. Our guide should help you find the suitable one for you.

They make a great gift – why not get one personalized as a gift for the whisky drinker in your life?? Below is a rundown of the most common different types of whiskey glasses.

The tulip-shaped glass

This glass is based on a copita, a traditional Spanish glass used to taste sherry. It has become the choice of master distillers, blenders, and true whiskey connoisseurs around the world.

It was once called a “dock” glass because it was used by merchants who used to sniff wine and spirits at the docks. Its long stem prevents the drinker’s hand (and its polluting odors) from getting too close to the nose, while the shape of the cup concentrates the aromas through the slightly narrow rim.

The glass can easily be cradled so that the spirit can be warmed up if desired. In general, this is an appropriate glass for a true appreciation of the nuances of single malt whisky.

Glencairn whiskey glass

Similar to a tulip-shaped glass, the Glencairn is considered a robust vessel, although it is also suitable for appreciation.

Its short and firm base makes it a durable glass, appreciated by those who do not prefer stems. The glass is also slightly thicker, meaning it’s more substantial for a fancy drink.

Due to its size, Glencairn is the perfect glass for learning to blend whisky; a practice commonly used to open whiskey flavors for full appreciation.

Again, the shape of the vessel channels the flavors into the narrow rim. It is a modern, less “shiny” relative of the tulip glass and is dedicated exclusively to whisky.

Whiskey tumbler

It is the most common of all the different types of whiskey glasses. Due to its wide rim, the glass is not ideal for nosing, but it doesn’t have to be: this one is meant to be filled with ice and whiskey of your choice or for serving a number of classic cocktails. Its wide, robust base makes it ideal for “mixing” cocktail ingredients.

At the same time, the simple design allows simple drinks to speak for themselves—a timeless glass, essential for any whiskey lover, open to the full range of spirits enjoyments.

the high ball

The taller brother of the tumbler and glass is associated with one of the world’s most revered but most modest whiskey cocktails: scotch and soda.

It provides plenty of ice, spirits, and mixers, making it a long and relaxing drink. Today, a highball is also popular with lovers of other flat whiskeys served, such as whiskey and ginger ale or whiskey and lemonade.

It is especially popular in Japan. The shape is not very important in a highball, but scotch and soda in a dimpled pint glass wouldn’t do to be served in it.

The snifter

A glass firmly rooted in a gentlemen’s club, this one exudes class – think whiskey and cigars in the smoking room after dinner.

It is commonly used for brandy and today is largely a glass for dark and aged spirits in general. They are often designed so that when held partially horizontal, the spirits do not spill out.

But all of these opulent assortments compared to other different types of whiskey glasses don’t necessarily make it a premium drinking vessel: the extravagant body and narrow rim of the glass can stimulate the release of strong ethanol vapors, overpowering other aromas.

NEAT whiskey glass

The new kid on the block, and one for technical minds, NEAT glass, is the ironic result of a mistake made at a glassblowing factory.

Further testing of the unusually shaped vessel showed it to be the ideal shape for extracting strong alcohol vapors from the nose.

The NEAT glass, short for Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology, pushes lighter ethanol molecules out of its opening, leaving heavier, more tempting whiskey molecules.

It is a very suitable glass for appreciation but also for people new to the spirits category in general due to its ability to cancel out harsh aromas. Due to its unusual shape, you may get used to drinking from it a bit.

Norlan glass

The Norlan Double Wall Whiskey glass uses science to capture the complex flavor compounds of whiskey. The inner wall is shaped like a Glencairn, with swirling ridges added to the bottom that are meant to extract the aromas.

The outer wall offers a robust and easier-to-handle glass with a shape similar to a stemless wine glass.

It is also available in a heavier (and more expensive!) tumbler version. This is one instance where your personal sense of style may be required to recoup the extra cost over just a Glencairn.

Vinum Single Malt

Vinum is a tall whiskey glass from wine glass design expert Riedel that practically looks like a snifter and a Glencairn mixed in a vessel.

Instead of the other different types of whiskey glasses, why should you need this single malt whiskey glass? Vaguely. According to Riedel’s website, the cup is “an elongated thistle shape on a shortened stem and includes a small, slightly outward-turned lip that emphasizes smoothness.”

Swirling Glass

The Swirling glass has a ridge or spike at the bottom to improve the ethanol’s evaporation when you swirl the whiskey in the glass. Rikke Hagen, a designer at Normann Copenhagen, created a glass with a swirl pyramid.

Peaks Huckberry Whiskey Glasses

Huckberry’s Whiskey Peaks line possesses both form and function: crafted from hand-blown glass, the beautiful conversation pieces are nearly as thin as paper and designed to let the spirit shine.

Best of all, topographical prints of famous mountains and peaks, including Mount Everest, Grand Canyon, Denali, Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Rainier, and Mount Washington, float at the bottom of each glass.

Whether you’re interested in rock climbing or looking for a vibrant keepsake, the Whiskey Peaks 11.5 oz tumbler is a unique way to encourage a drinking experience. Think of them as great gifts for bosses, bachelors, and others.

Dragon Diamond Whiskey Glasses

These diamond-shaped glasses from Dragon Glassware don’t just look great; they’re also designed to enhance your whiskey drinking experience.

The glass’s unique shape helps aerate your drink when pouring or swirling. In addition, it rests at a 50-degree angle, which is also protection against tipping and spilling.

With a capacity of 10 ounces, these lead-free crystal glasses can also be washed in the dishwasher and are freezer safe. Gift them to a friend, or add them to your bar for an excellent conversation piece.

What to Look for in the Different Types of Whiskey Glasses?


Glass is the standard choice for the different types of whiskey glasses. Outside of glass, your possibilities are endless. There are metal vessels, plastic options, wooden tumblers, and glass tumblers.

We prefer glass and crystal, as these materials will not impart other flavors to mind. Also, if you’re known to be clumsy or have fierce kids or pets, you might want to choose a more durable alternative.

price and purpose

The different types of whiskey glass prices can vary widely. There are plenty of cheap rocks glasses, as well as a host of fancy snifters with sky-high price tags.

As a general rule, think about what you use your glasses for. Are you a big scotch whiskey lover who likes to understand the nuances of the drink? Perhaps a high-end snifter is the best option.

Do you like the occasional neat pour, but do you also like cocktails? Consider a more versatile rock glass. Are you prone to breakage? Maybe the super expensive paper-thin crystal glass isn’t what you’re looking for.

Maintenance and Care

While we wish we could put any of the different types of whiskey glasses in the dishwasher, these fine-tasting glasses often require more rigorous care.

Still, a few options on this list can be washed in the dishwasher, but be sure to check before doing so! Anything Murano glass or anything with a metallic rim requires gentle hand washing.

The glass will need to be further polished after washing, so consider adding a polishing cloth to your order.

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