Bourbon 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Glasses
Mar 25, 2021
Whiskey tasting allows you to socialize and embark on an adventure of taste. Each whiskey has a unique flavor, one that is best enjoyed through taste and smell—senses both defined by the right glass.
Like the perfect frame to a piece of artwork, different glasses are designed to magnify the elements of a fine whiskey.
What Makes Bourbon Unique?
While all bourbons are whiskeys, not all whiskeys are bourbons. Bourbon’s sweet flavor makes it stand out. It is distilled from grains made up of 50% corn. Unlike other whiskeys, bourbon is aged in new charred barrels. This process gives it its vanilla and oak flavor.
Do you enjoy Bourbon, but are confused by the different glass options? Look no further. From tumbler to tulip, our guide can help you identify the best glass and appreciate every ounce of your chosen bourbon.
Anatomy of a Whiskey Glass
Before we dive right in, let’s start with the basic structure. Believe it or not, every detail of a glass—be it rim diameter, body shape, or stem presence—impacts the liquor quality.
The outer edge of a whiskey glass impacts the bourbon’s aroma. Where small rims concentrate the alcohol on the nose, wider diameters dissipate alcohol away from the nose. This allows for more subtle scents to unveil themselves and lets you taste more flavors with every sip.
The body shape works hand-in-hand with the rim to enrich tasting and nosing. In fact, the most popular glasses have a round body shape. This bowl shape encourages aromas to be collected and directed through a tapered rim. A convergent glass shape also enables swirling and evaporation while concentrating aromas.
Some glasses fit easier in the drinker’s hand than others. While some of the best whiskey glasses don’t have them, stems still boast some benefits. A longer stem enables you to swirl whiskey effortlessly. When the whiskey is swirled, single droplets drip off the glass wall (a good indicator of viscosity). A lengthy stem also prevents the drinker’s hand from getting too close to the nose, which actually interferes with the whisky’s aromas.
Types of Glasses
The ideal glass lets you smell the bourbon and recognize aromas before tasting it. Connoisseurs also use white wine glasses, shot glasses, and whiskey sifters for bourbon tastings.
Wanting to perfect your whisky-swirling skills? The Glencairn is perfect for you.
It’s short and the sturdy base makes it easy to swirl and nose. This is why the Glencairn is considered the best option for bourbon. The small neck and flared rim collects the bourbon’s aromas and diffuses the smell.
The modest cousin to the Tulip, the Glencairn experience is equally as captivating. With a Glencairn, you can appreciate every flavor and smell infused in the liquor.
The most common whisky glass, the Tumbler, is also known as the rocks glass, the old-fashioned glass, and the lowball. Its distinctive names are just as versatile as its uses. If you prefer whiskey neat, on the rocks, or whisky cocktails, the Tumbler may be the one for you.
While it is subpar for whisky tasting, the Tumbler’s plain design shouldn’t be underestimated. The wide rim allows robust vapors and aromas to set in equally, empowering ice and bourbon to speak for themselves.
What do you get when you combine cigars, class, and the finest whiskey? You guessed it, the Snifter. You may also know this classic as the brandy bowl or balloon glass.
It’s a curvy glass often used in bourbon tasting and cocktails. The wide bottom and narrow rim guide aromas to the top, revealing the bourbon’s hidden flavors and allowing you to savor in delight.
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The tulip glass is a top choice of distillers worldwide.
Attached to a rich history, the tulip glass is well-known as the “Copita” and is a traditional Spanish glass for sherry. Also called the “Dock glass”, the Tulip was used by merchants to nose wines and spirits at docksides in the 1800s. For centuries, this glass has been satisfying bourbon needs.
The glass is broad in the middle and converges toward the rim, which creates a concentrated aroma. With a long stem, the drinker’s hand is kept away from the liquid which enhances the whisky’s smell.
The NEAT (Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology) glass is unlike any you’ve seen before. This makes sense, considering it is the result of a faulty error in a glass blowing factory.
The spherical base enhances subtle aromas by pushing harsher vapors further away from the nose. This makes the NEAT glass an enjoyable choice for first-timers, who are just getting used to the inherent strength of a good whiskey—though the unusual shape may take some getting used to.
Whiskey Tasting Flights
Now that you’re an expert, try the new Christner’s Custom Bourbon Collection Flight of Old Scout Single Barrel, Maker’s Mark Private Select, and Elijah Craig Small Batch.
Old Scout Single Barrel
One of Old Scout’s newest custom Bourbon, Old Scout by Ambel is a hand-selected barrel of five-year-old bourbon with a high-rye content. Custom stamped and personally signed, each bottle combines every connoisseur’s dream: quality whiskey with attention to detail.
Maker’s Mark Christner’s Private Select
Think warm aromas of oak and woody spice. Now, add flavors of caramel and cinnamon with distinct slivers of vanilla, pecans, and pears. This is just a glimpse into the unique tasting experience provided by Christner’s Private Select Program. In partnership with Maker’s Mark, Christner’s has embraced the special bourbon and enhanced its aging process, creating a whiskey you’ve always loved while adding in a personal touch.
Elijah Craig Small Batch
A pleasant and flavorful whiskey, Elijah Craig Small Batch is sweet and light initially. Though as the tasting continues, the robust flavors of vanilla, caramel, nut, and cinnamon intensify, creating a diverse combination of flavors in the final stages.