For our glass review, we used a bottle from review #0014 Iron Smoke Bourbon and a helper Iron Smoke CASKet Strength to put three glasses through the paces. A Rocks(old fashioned) glass, a Glencairn and a Norlan. Since we started reviewing we’ve been using the tried and true Rocks glass. We’ve talked about changing it up and then we received a comment from Zesty Cheesemaker from review #0017 and he said this “hate to say it, but i think you guys are using the wrong glassware… you’re going to need something like a Glencairn to funnel that aroma thereby allowing the flavor’s to shoot through then take a puff of your smoke along w/ it. Hate to say it, but i think you guys are using the wrong glassware… you’re going to need something like a Glencairn to funnel that aroma thereby allowing the flavor’s to shoot through then take a puff of your smoke along w/ it.” So then we figured it was time for a glass showdown.
First, the Rocks glass. It has been around so long that it is the quintessential whiskey glass and official glass of the Old Fashioned. That wide rim and thick base(so non liquid ingredients could be mashed and muddled) that flattens out whiskey’s complex aromatics.
Second, the Glencairn. Developed by Glencairn Crystal Ltd. of Scotland designed by Raymond Davidson. The glass was derived from the traditional nosing copitas used in whisky labs. It would be of no surprise that the Glencairn is the official glass of scotch, endorsed by the Scotch Whiskey Association. I’m sure that master blenders from five of the largest whisky companies in Scotland had nothing to do with it. Production of this glass started in 2001. Plus, the nub at the bottom is where you are supposed to hold the glass for two reasons. One, so you don’t warm up your whiskey with your hand and two, so any smells from your hand(oils, soap etc) are kept away from your nose as not to interfere with the nose of the whisky.
Last, is the Norlan. This beautiful glass was designed by Sruli Recht in 2016. The idea behind this glass was to reduce the ethanol oxidation to surface volume which employed the use of fluid dynamics. So the liquid could be agitated in such a way that the ethanol could escape, reducing the volatility of the spirit and allowing the flavorful aromatics to surface. With it’s double walled design, your hand will not warm up your whiskey and the circumference at the top was made wide enough to fit your nose in your glass when taking a sip.
Poured all three, the Rocks glass on the nose seemed to dissipate quickly and held in just a little longer in the Norlan but the Glencairn was being greedy and holding all those aromatics in. On the palate, the Rocks glass seemed to have less of the alcohol than the Glencairn but you’re able to fit your nose in it. The Norlan seemed to have less alcohol but the spirit seemed cooler that the other two, maybe because of it’s double walled construction.
Our verdict: If you’re tasting a whiskey for the first time and want to catch all the different flavors and smells then a Glencairn would be the choice. If you are going to just sit a relax with one of your go to’s then the Rocks glass is the winner. If you want to show off to your friends and want something that isn’t as dainty as the Glencairn then the Norlan is our pick.