Taste Test Review of the Best Bourbon Glasses

Forums » Bourbon 101 - Beginning Bourbon Here

Taste Test Review of the Best Bourbon Glasses

    • 190 posts
    April 8, 2021 11:25 AM PDT

    Review of the Best Bourbon Glasses

    What is the best glass to drink Bourbon Whiskey from?  Does the glassware really impact smell, taste or characteristics observed in the same bourbon? - it may be impossible to completely scientifically answer these questions since the entire aspect of smell and taste are subjective, but we dive into the best possible answer here.  

    Originally posted 15May 2015 updated 08April 2021

    We analyzed the now 8 most common glasses for drinking bourbon and rye whiskey:

    1. Libbey Shot Glass - representative of common shot glasses
    2. Libbey Rocks Glass - most common rocks or old fashioned glass
    3. Glencairn Whiskey Glass - most common specialized whiskey glass in bars/distillery tours
    4. NEAT Spirits Glass - (Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology) newer specialized glass for whiskey
    5. Libbey Perfect Whiskey Glass - newer specialized glass for whiskey
    6. Norlan Whiskey Glass - newer specialized glass for whiskey
    7. Riedel Vinum Cognac Glass - recently been used by many whiskey fans
    8. Aged & Ore Duo Glass - newer specialied glass for whiskey

    TL;DR - Glassware matters! The Glencairn, NEAT and Norlan glasses were the best for the nose and palate but the comfort of the grip and delicate nature of each should be addressed before purchase.

      We have reviewed each glass with a 1oz pour of Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond 6yr (freshly opened) and allowed to sit in each glass for 15 minutes without a cover. Most agree HH BIB 6yr offers a nose of caramel, vanilla, and oak with additional mouthing of fruit notes, and a palate that consists of vanilla, caramel, toffee, sweet corn, and oak/char. A very complete and solid bourbon great for this experiment.

    We only tasted and did not swallow to prevent palate shift due to intoxication. Each person reviewed the glasses in the opposite order to reduce the impact from one glass to another.  We rated each glass on three major factors:

    1. Handling - how it feels in the hand and its durablility
    2. Nosing Ability - how it can pick up all possible aromas 
    3. Palate - how the glass accenuates each flavor and reduction of ethanol burn/taste

    The following are the results of three individual's tests for each glass: 


    Libbey Shot Glass:  

    1. Handling - Easy to hold, solid, very durable, but hard to sip due to the size (fair)
    2. Nosing - Mostly ethanol (alcohol) vapors, limited amount of oak (bad)
    3. Palate - Mostly oak and alcohol burn in the sip (bad)

    Libbey Rocks Glass

    1. Handling - Perfect to hold, nice heavy solid glass (good)
    2. Nosing - Mostly just vanilla and oak, no ethanol fumes (fair)
    3. Palate - Muted for individual flavors but creamy and soft, minor alcohol burn (fair)

    Glencairn Whiskey Glass

    1. Handling - Heavy for its size with thin lip, able to manipulate for multi-angled nosing, slightly delicate (good)
    2. Nosing - Most aromas - caramel, vanilla, oak and fruit (with open mouth) (great)
    3. Palate - Easy to distinguish each flavor caramel, vanilla, toffee corn + oak, minor ethanol (good-great)

    NEAT Spirits Glass:

    1. Handling - Nice weight, hand grip and durable - Hard to drink sips as one must tilt head significantly (good)
    2. Nosing - Focused on sweeter side of aromas however without oak (good)
    3. Palate - Creamy mouthfeel, all flavors detected and possible fruit notes, no ethanol burn (great)

    Libbey Perfect Whiskey Glass:

    1. Handling - Weird to hold, no place to get a solid grip, appears durable and weighted (fair-good)
    2. Nosing - Vanilla, caramel and oak notes without ethanol (good)
    3. Palate - Muted flavors of vanilla, corn and oak (fair)

    Norlan Whiskey Glass

    1. Handling - Feels delicate and light, but has been sturdy, weird holding grip (fair-good)
    2. Nosing - Mostly vanilla and caramel, enhances sweet flavors, little oak, no alcohol (good)
    3. Palate - Soft and silky, able to distinguish all flavors, light ethanol amount (good)

    Riedel Vinum Cognac Glass:

    1. Handling - Easy to grip and manipulate for nosing, appears delicate (fair)
    2. Nosing - Only vanilla and oak with minor ethanol (good)
    3. Palate - Very soft and silky, able to distinguish vanilla, sweet corn +oak, light ethanol amount (good)

    Aged & Ore Duo Glass  

    1. Handling - Good sized, but feels thin seems durable (good)
    2. Nosing - Detected all aromas without ethanol vapors (great)
    3. Palate - Difficult to distinguish separate flavors with toffee missing completely. Slight ethanol burn (fair)



    Whiskey glassware matters! Two of the testers preferred the Glencairn glass while one preferred the NEAT glass overall. I am sure each person will have preference, so my opinion is to find a glass you like and stick with it. You should try to compare bourbons using the same glassware.  For this reason (keeping the same glass in most bourbon tastings) I use the glencairn. The glencairn is moderately priced, and is often found in higher end whiskey bars and in many distillery tasting rooms.



    This post was edited by admin at April 8, 2021 6:13 PM PDT
    • 1 posts
    April 8, 2021 6:22 PM PDT
    Good ol Wisconsin ol fashion tub
    • 3 posts
    April 8, 2021 6:30 PM PDT
    Glencarin, but we have these Crate and Barrel rocks glasses that I love to use too.
    Always neat- never Chilled.
    • 3 posts
    April 8, 2021 6:46 PM PDT
    Mike Matuszeske said:
    Good ol Wisconsin ol fashion tub

    Is this just the top part of a butter dish?!!
    • 1 posts
    April 8, 2021 7:08 PM PDT
    Glencairn - the etched version
    • 2 posts
    April 9, 2021 4:02 AM PDT

    Put me in the Glencairn group as well. 

    • 2 posts
    April 9, 2021 7:20 AM PDT

    You forgot one, bar mat. Although not glass, it is tried and true vessel for many die-hards. I have heard blanton's when served in a buffalo trace mat brings out a distinct potato note. 


    • 2 posts
    April 9, 2021 7:25 AM PDT

    All kidding aside, my favorite vessel is a Willett glen. It is hybrid of a traditional glen and a Libbey perfect. Only drawbacks are when doing notes, you need an ounce to reach optimal surface area as anything short of that will miss nuanced notes on the nose and it is hard to nail exact color due to shallow depth and non-parabolic walls.