The Best Whiskey Glasses to Buy in 2021 Tom Beckbe

The Best Whiskey Glasses for Sipping Your Favorite Bourbon, Scotch and Rye

This list runs the gamut, from inexpensive Glencairn glasses to fine cut crystal from Baccarat and Waterford.

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Any casual whiskey drinker—or anyone who’s watched Mad Men protagonist Don Draper pour an afternoon drink or three in his mid-century dream office—knows the spirit is more important than the glass it’s in. Still, you might walk away from a conversation with whiskey purists believing that you need eleven different vessels to get the most out of individual varietals. This isn’t necessarily true, but if you’re interested in spirits or regularly share drams with guests, it’s worth having barware that’s well-suited to how you enjoy drinking.

Generally, you can split the best whiskey glasses into two categories: aesthetics-first and function-first. If you’re drinking like Draper—whose famous glasses are of Dorothy Thorpe design, sets of which you can sometimes find on 1stDibs—you’re drinking more casually, and with style top of mind. The classic shapes and styles of rocks glasses, tumblers and brandy glasses are unfussy and ideal for that kind of dram. If you’re the type to scribble down tasting notes, it’s the smaller, olfactory science-focused glassware you want. But what to buy? I tried far, far too many to get to the bottom of it.

The Glencairn Glass

The Best Whiskey Glasses: The Glencairn Glass

The Glencairn Glass  Amazon

Most “industry standard” products aren’t crafted with home users in mind, but the Glencairn can go from tasting room to living room with ease. Designer Raymond Davidson developed the glass hand-in-hand with master Scotch blenders to accentuate whiskey specifically, rather than borrowing glassware from other booze industries. (Before the Glencairn’s release in 2001, the professional whiskey sipping vessel of choice was the humble copita, a long-stemmed glass with a tulip-shaped bowl designed for drinking sherry). Davidson removed the stem and replaced it with a kind of glass knob on the base, making the glass less prone to breaks and much easier to store. The base of the bowl was widened to allow for more swirling, as well as to provide a clearer view of the spirit’s hue. Mercifully, the outward taper of the rim lessens the likelihood of whiskey running from the glass and straight down your chin, too, which is a big plus.

The glass shape is excellent at allowing no-splash swirling, and flushing the nose of the whiskey toward the drinker. Though the glass is small (it’s meant to hold just 1.5 oz of liquid), there is room for water if you prefer it. Because of the glass’s durability, low price and sip-focused utility, few glasses are better suited for a whiskey tasting party.

Buy Now (Set of 4): $27.99

The Neat Glass

The Best Whiskey Glasses: The Neat Glass

The Neat Glass  Amazon

Romanticization is a fundamental tenet of whiskey marketing. The makers of the NEAT glass didn’t get the memo. Though you can never be sure if a name was created with its acronym in mind, NEAT stands for Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology, and the glass is designed for sipping whiskey neat. Even more than drinking, it’s designed for smelling. The designer’s manifesto argues traditional tulip-shaped glassware is more likely to burn your nose with a rush of ethanol than highlight a spirit’s quality. The way around this is a flared rim which works to instigate a more diffused evaporation than a traditional whiskey sipping glass.

The shape and look are a bit strange and holding one feels a little fiddly, but there is a reason it’s been adopted as the official glassware for judging various spirits contests, including what’s widely considered the loftiest of them all: the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. If you take your whiskey seriously, it’s a great option.

Buy Now (Set of 2): $27.99

Denver & Liely Bourbon Glass

The Best Whiskey Glasses: Denver & Liely Bourbon Glass

Denver & Liely Bourbon Glass  Denver & Liely

Australia-based Denver & Liely’s bourbon glass (much like its whiskey, gin and agave glasses) is an upgraded take on a classic design. Like the Glencairn—effectively the standard in whiskey glassware bent toward sipping—the foundation is a weighty glass knob that’s just the right size to wrap a few fingers around. Beyond that, this design cuts a different path. The cup is wider and shorter—a bit like the neat glass—which effectively tempers bourbon whiskey’s sweeter, corn-focused flavor. In the hand, an upgrade in glass quality from other sipping-focused glassware is apparent; its shape, lines and weight have a premium feel. And considering Aussies and American Southerners share brutally hot summers, the fact that the glass is just wide enough for an ice cube or two doesn’t seem like an accident.

Buy Now: $45

Waterford Lismore Straight-Sided Tumbler

The Best Whiskey Glasses: Waterford Lismore Straight-Sided Tumbler

Waterford Lismore Straight-Sided Tumbler  Waterford

Operating since 1783, Waterford is synonymous with fine glassware, and we could have easily filled this list from its portfolio alone. For variety’s sake, we’ve selected just one of its excellent wares: the Lismore Diamond Tumbler. A reinterpretation of early Waterford designs, Miroslav Havel’s design is a mid-century modern classic. Three factors working in unison make the drinking experience special: the circular cuts that run around the lower third of the glass, the vertical wedge cuts that bisect them and the quality of the crystal itself. Together, the glass almost collects the light around it and refracts it toward the whiskey in the glass. Great for sipping a good whiskey neat or a round of Old Fashioneds, drinking out of one feels important.

Buy Now (Set of 2): $139.99

Norlan Rauk Heavy Tumbler

The Best Whiskey Glasses: Norlan Rauk Heavy Tumbler

Norlan Rauk Heavy Tumbler  Norlan

Norlan’s aggro-modern aesthetic may not be for everyone, but the quality and craftsmanship are undeniable. The Rauk—”rock” in Old Scottish—is like the universe, made in a single blinding flash. Molten crystal slips into a five-piece mold that’s machine-pressed into a rocks glass fit for the set of Dune or Westworld. The base of the interior looks a bit like a three-dimensional seismograph which, despite being cool enough to justify itself on looks alone, also serves to assist in muddling ingredients in a cocktail. The base sits on four transparent points, which makes the glass appear to be levitating. Despite that, the most jarring feature is invisible; the smaller version of the glass weighs more than a pound, while the larger one is just shy of two pounds. While heft shouldn’t always imply quality, in this case, the weight of the glass adds to the drinking experience.

Buy Now: $50

Nude Alba Whiskey Glass

The Best Whiskey Glasses Nude Alba Whiskey Glasses

Nude Alba Whiskey Glasses  Amara

Not all luxe glasses need to be cut with the same patterns we’ve seen for the last 70 years or laser in on the purest whiskey drinking experience; some glasses can simply look excellent on a bar cart. Nude’s Alba is one such glass. The base is thick and heavy and the walls are thin and taper slightly as they rise from the bottom. The pattern cut onto the glass is a subtle nod at the tartan patterns that dominate traditional barware in the whiskey world.

Buy Now: $119

Baccarat Massena Tumbler

The Best Whiskey Glasses: Baccarat Massena Tumbler

Baccarat Massena Tumblers  Baccarat

Baccarat, the older of the two dominant luxury glassware makers, was founded in 1764 by a wealthy French cardinal named Louis-Joseph de Montmorency-Laval. Montmorency-Laval created the company with the express permission of King Louis XV, who is probably best known for losing the French-controlled lands in North America before the Revolutionary War (and setting the table for a revolution a little closer to home). The company went on to make stained-glass windows, chandeliers and all the fancy-people-in-the-19th-century accoutrements they were commissioned to—including some drinkware. The quality of the crystal and craftsmanship of the glasses is unparalleled.

The Massena Tumbler is one piece of the larger Massena collection, and it’s perfect for something special poured on the rocks. The glass’s design receives, contorts and fires light across rooms. It’s also the glass Bill Murray drinks Hibiki 17 out of in Lost in Translation.

Buy Now (Set of 2): $276.16

Riedel Vinum Single Malt Whisky Glass

The Best Whiskey Glasses: Riedel Vinum Single Malt Whisky Glass

Riedel Vinum Single Malt Whisky Glass  Amazon

Though the Glencairn steals most of the shine today, other companies had a go at making whiskey-specific glassware before it became the standard. Riedel’s Vinum Single Malt Whisky Glass is one such effort and, though some more modern and science-focused options on this list may offer more “pure” sipping experiences, it has a place among the best. Released almost ten years before the Glencairn, the glass’s wider, outward-flaring rim combines with a taller glass to cut back on the alcohol burn when nosing your dram. The Vinum whisky glass rides the line between aesthetics and the necessary functions of a tasting glass better than most.

Buy Now (Set of 2): $59

Moser Royal Brandy Glass

The Best Whiskey Glasses: Moser Royal Brandy Glass

Moser Royal Brandy Glass  Moser

Moser, a craft-focused glassmaking company open for more than 150 years, makes more typical whiskey glasses, but the style and provenance of its iconic brandy glass is what you want. Moser’s “Royal” brandy glass was born in 1907 when England’s King Edward VII had it made for his wife Queen Alexandra. The company has been making glass by hand with lead-free crystal since the late 19th century, and its time-tested techniques are evident in the cutting work. The rim of the glass is lined with a thin stripe of 24K gold.

As far as drinking out of one goes, it’s not so different than other glasses on this list; it just has more space for swirling and, notably, the cup tapers inward, focusing the smell of the spirit inside. Because of this, it’s most suited for drinking middle- and lower-ABV whiskeys, unless you take your whiskey with water; otherwise you may get a nose full of ethanol.

Buy Now: $133

Terrane No. 12 Glass

The Best Whiskey Glasses: Terrane No. 12 Glass

Terrane No. 12 Glass  Tom Beckbe

Terrane’s barware looks considerably more egalitarian than cups made at the behest of European monarchs, but it’s no less deserving of praise. Made by hand in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, its glassware is among the very best being made in the U.S. The company’s small team of artisans works periodically on different designs and batches, and the aesthetic ranges from ultra-thin and contemporary to something closer to the newer and more rustic No. 12 glass, a dodecagon made with textured glass in a silhouette that’s at once modern and easy to hold.

Buy Now: $40

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