Whiskey Glassware 101: Beginner's Guide

When it comes to tasting whiskey - and any spirit, for that matter - there is a wide array of shapes to choose from, each promising to be “the best.” This guide overviews the most common glassware types for drinking whiskey.

Whiskey Glassware 101: Beginner's Guide

When it comes to tasting whiskey - and any spirit, for that matter - there is a wide array of shapes to choose from, each promising to be “the best.” This guide overviews the most common glassware types for drinking whiskey.

Glassware is a great way to enhance the whiskey-tasting experience, as well as add functional decor to your home bar. I am an unapologetic glassware nerd. Anytime I go to a restaurant or bar, I can be seen tipping my glass and squinting at the bottom, searching for the etching denoting the maker. I am also frequently asked, "what is the best way to drink whiskey?" So let's start with the basics and review the best - and the worst - glassware options to maximize your bourbon liquor quaffing experiences.


Photo Credit: The Glencairn Glass
  • Shape: This quintessential glass features a stubby base, slightly ballooned bowl, and tapered chimney top. 
  • Price: $7.99
  • Volume: 6 oz
  • Brand Notes: The unique and stylish shape has been crafted with eminent care to enhance the enjoyment of single malts and aged blends. The tapered mouth allows and ease of drinking not associated with traditional nosing glasses. While capturing that all-important bouquet. The wide bowl allows the fullest appreciation of the whisky’s colour and the solid base is designed to be easy on the hand.
  • Rating: 5/5 - The Glencairn Glass was developed specifically for drinking neatly Scotch Whisky. For me, this glass is my favorite, the GOAT. 5/5 - I will always have Glencairns in my home, ask for them at a bar when drinking whiskey, use them at tastings, and buy them as gifts for friends. Incredibly affordable, immensely useful. It comes in the traditional, crystal cut, and opaque colored varieties. The best on the market and the most affordable. 
  • Honorable Mention: The Wee Glencairn - a shrunk down version often seen at whiskey festivals - is the cutest glass I’ve ever seen. It’s a little more difficult to drink from, as the opening is smaller and makes it harder to nose. However, the benefit of the overall shape is still in tact. 
  • To Buy: Shop The Glencairn Glass

Bourbon & Banter Glassware

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Photo Credit: Libbey
  • Shape: Snifter-style glass with a stubby base, wide bellied bowl, and slightly flared lip.
  • Price: $9.95
  • Volume: 8 oz
  • Brand Notes: The wide bowl and narrow neck of our bourbon sipping glasses draws the aroma to the rim - these American made whiskey sipping glasses offer you a luxurious restaurant experience at home.
  • Rating: 4/5 - Though the name is a mouthful, this glass is the official tasting glass of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail for a reason. It is similar in shape to the original Glencairn glass but expand the belly of the vessel and allows more oxygenation. However, the lack of a chimney doesn’t yield as much concentration of the nose. This is my second favorite whiskey glass.
  • To Buy: Shop the Libbey Signature Kentucky Bourbon Trail Glass


Photo Credit: The Glencairn Glass
  • Shape: Similar to a small white wine glass, the Copita features a small tulip shaped bowl, a short stem, and a flat base. 
  • Price: $14.95
  • Volume: 5.75 oz
  • Brand Notes: The tulip shape of the bowl allows the spirit to be swirled sufficiently opening the alcohol vapours. Permitting the aroma to intertwine with the oxygen and develop the flavour/smell of chosen your spirit
  • Rating: 4/5 - This is a classic spirits tasting glass also made by Glencairn. It is ideal for sipping agave spirits (tequila, mezcal) and lighter whiskies. The stem is perfect to avoid imparting too much warm from the hand into the spirit and it provides amble space for the spirit to mingle with oxygen yet preserve flavor. The Copita is an excellent versatile glass for any Curious Drinker to have in their collection to enjoy whiskey or any other spirit. Extra marks for its versatility.  
  • To Buy: Shop the Glencairn Copita Glass


Photo Credit: Norlan Glass
  • Shape: This is a double walled glass with an interior that mimics a Glencairn and an exterior that mimics a stemless wine glass. 
  • Price: $14.95
  • Volume: 5.9 oz
  • Brand Notes: Meet the original double-walled whisky glass. Developed to elevate your favorite whisky (or whiskey)—whether Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, Canadian, Japanese, you name it—the Norlan Whisky Glass has been designed to capture whisky's unique flavors and aromatics and deliver them to the senses like never before. A distinctive result of the double-walled construction is the intensity of color added to spirits in the bowl, which is further carried up into the rim of the glass. 
  • Rating: 3/5 - The double walling prevents heat transfer from the hand, and the interior shape allows for ample mingling of spirit and air as well as concentration of the nose. I’d love to see a bit more tapering in the chimney but overall a solid glass. Point docked for steep price. You can read Pop's review of the glass here.
  • To Buy: Shop the Norlan Whisky Glass


  • Shape: Sturdy, rounded base with cylindrical vessel with tall walls.
  • Price: Varies
  • Volume: 6-8 oz for a traditional Old Fashioned glass; 10-15 oz for a rocks or Double Old Fashioned glass
  • Brand Notes: From Riedel (one of my favorite glassware makers) - This glass has been specifically designed with small proportions for neat drinks or spirit-focused cocktails. It is designed to be cradled by the hand of the imbiber for ultimate comfort.
  • Rating: 2/5 - This glass goes by many names. I love a rocks glass for a cocktail or whiskey on the rocks but when it comes to trying spirits neat, the rocks glass falls short. There’s too much surface area and the shape is so wide that it doesn’t allow the nose to concentrate enough. It's tougher to get the full flavor experience from the glass. The variety in sizing also makes it challenging for tasting spirits neat. It will do in a pinch, but it’s definitely not ideal. 
  • To Buy: Shop Riedel Glassware


Photo Credit: NEAT Glass
  • Shape: This glass has a short, squat bowl with a flared, angled lip.
  • Price: $9.99
  • Volume: 6.8 oz
  • Brand Notes: NEAT spirits glass displays all aromas for easy detection removing nose-numbing ethanol exposing true spirits quality. Collecting or enjoying spirits, NEAT enhances your experience to savor all aromas that define your favorite scotch whisky, bourbon whiskey, rum, tequila, gin, cognac, vodka, port, sherry, and liqueurs. Neat spirits glass began with science basics, not in the styling studio. Glass swirling promotes aroma. Swirling in a tulip glass forces concentrated alcohol up you nose hiding aromas and destroying your sense of smell - NOT in the Neat glass.
  • Rating: 1/5 - I’ve never been able to successfully drink out of this glass without spilling whiskey all over myself. The engineering is just weird. The lip of the glass leads the liquid to spread too far, though it does allow for a nice nose. It also requires the drinker to fully handle the glass, which warms the drink more than I like. The shape is 100% fun but 0% functional. 
  • To Buy: Shop the NEAT Glass


  • Snifter Glass: This is your traditional goblet designed for drinking brandy. It will work for whiskey but you will definitely look a bit dramatic. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
  • Viski Glasses: Viski makes a variety of cool looking whiskey glasses that mimic aspects of the styles noted above. They also make one that rolls around on the table, which is a sure-fire way for me to break them.