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The Best Whiskey Glasses to Pair with Your Favorite Bourbon or Scotch

These whiskey glasses do what you need them to, and they won’t cramp your style along the way.

best whiskey glasses lead full
Chris Wright

Does your vehicle for drinking matter? Any right-minded drinker, especially those who choose whiskey, will answer with an unequivocal “yes.” There are weight and balance to consider, not to mention all manner of nosing. These whiskey and bourbon glasses do what you need them to do, and they won’t cramp your style along the way. So whether you're looking to mix up an old fashioned, savor an 18-year single malt or enjoy your favorite bourbon neat, you'll find the perfect whiskey glass below.

What to Look for in a Whiskey Glass

Materials

Once upon a time, nice drinking glasses — including whiskey glasses and bourbon glasses — were made of crystal. True crystal contains lead, and since poisonous lead can leech into your drink from the crystal, it is no longer recommended to drink from glasses made with leaded crystal. Most glasses on the market today are made of glass that's often marketed as "lead-free crystal." Sometimes, the makers of these new-age forms of crystal will replace traditional lead with other minerals in order to improve durability in a nonharmful way, such as with Schott Zwiesel's Tritan crystal that adds titanium and zirconium to the mix.

Another thing to know about the glass used in whiskey glasses is the difference between handblown and machine-formed glass. A handblown glass will be thinner and more delicate than a glass that was made by a machine. This allows for an elevated drinking experience since you're tasting more of the whiskey than the glass, but it does typically come at a higher price.

Shape

While it's a bit more complicated than this, there are essentially two types of whiskey glasses: rocks glasses and whiskey glasses. A rocks glass — also called an old fashioned glass, lowball or short tumbler — is a stout, cylindrical glass with a heavy base that's meant for housing cocktails or whiskey on the rocks. They are not terribly complicated.

Whiskey glasses like the classic tulip or the famous Glencairn Whisky Glass, on the other hand, are designed for enjoying whiskey neat and their shape is specific to that activity. They feature a wide bowl that's ideal for swirling your hooch and that directs aromas up to the tapered rim, allowing for a more sensory experience than simply throwing back shots.

Maintenance and Care

You'll always want to pay special attention to the care instructions for your whiskey glass. Most glasses are dishwasher-safe, but some of the more delicate offerings call for hand-washing only. (This is the opposite of what you'll often see with high-end wine glasses, as your dishwasher is less likely to break off their delicate stems than you are.) You also want to make note of how to use your glass. Some glasses intended for neat whiskey are really intended for neat drinks only, and adding ice can potentially damage your glass.

The Best Whiskey & Bourbon Glasses

The Glencairn Glass

Courtesy
Best Scotch Glass

Glencairn Whisky Glass (Set of 4)

amazon.com
$29.49

  • Painstakingly designed for an elevated Scotch-drinking experience

  • Small size makes these best for whiskey tastings rather than casual imbibing

Probably the most famous snifter ever made. The Glencairn Glass was designed by a host of Master Blenders in Scotland as a more whisky-focused (notice the lack of “e”) version of the traditional copita glass. Its base is separated from the bulb so your hands don’t warm the glass around the juice. The bulb is wide enough to swirl the liquid but narrow enough at the top to flush the whisky’s nose straight at you.

The Neat Glass

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Best Whiskey Glass for Sipping Neat

The Neat Glass (Set of 2)

amazon.com
$22.99

  • Also enhances other neat spirits

  • Care instructions are finicky and complicated

Here you have the official judging glass at a number of high-profile spirits competitions, including the prestigious San Franciso World Spirits Competition. What sets it apart? The flared rim is a feature that runs in opposition to the mighty Glencairn. The manufacturer says you shouldn’t have to water down good booze in the name of blotting out overbearing ethanol on the nose. As to whether it works or not, you can be the judge.

Schott Zwiesel Pure Whiskey Glass

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Best Whiskey Glass for Parties

Schott Zwiesel Pure Whiskey Glass (Set of 6)

food52.com
$60.00

  • Patented Tritan crystal composition is highly durable

  • Looks too much like a stemless wine glass

The rise of the stemless wine glass casts an uncertain and unfair shadow over this German-made tumbler. Originally designed by Schott Zwiesel, the glasses are made with a Tritan crystal, a patented material that replaces the lead properties in traditional crystal in favor of a mix of titanium and zirconium, making them far more durable than your typical whiskey-toting cup (and scratch-resistant). And don’t let the height fool you, the wide bulb of the glass makes certain your drinks count.

Snowe Short Tumbler

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Best Old Fashioned Glass

Snowe Short Tumblers (Set of 4)

snowehome.com
$50.00

  • Size and shape are perfect for cocktails

  • Some reported issues with durability

Snowe’s glass isn’t quirky and it doesn’t come with a gimmick — it’s heavy, balanced and elegant. The direct-to-consumer home design company’s whiskey glass is made with leadless crystal and they just feel damn good in the hand — they also stack within each other quite well, somewhat rare in the whiskey glass world.

Norlan Glass

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Most Innovative Whiskey Glass

Norlan Whisky Glass (Set of 2)

amazon.com
$48.00

  • Double-walled structure is specifically engineered for a better whiskey-drinking experience

  • Limited to neat drinks as adding ice is discouraged

An ergonomic, lightweight riff on a Glencairn, the Norlan Glass essentially drops the head of that glass inside a tumbler. The whole thing is made of borosilicate glass, which is much lighter than the glass typically used to make tumblers. It’s also got a faceted base for a fingerprint-free grip, an easy fix to one of life’s smaller nuisances.

Denver & Liely Bourbon Glass

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Best Bourbon Glass

Denver & Liely Bourbon Glass

us.denverandliely.com
$45.00

  • Researched design is made specifically for bourbon

  • Quite expensive

It's essentially just a smushed and higher-quality Glencairn glass, and that's great. The mouth, base and bowl are wider and, in the hand, it looks more like a regular whiskey glass than the Glencairn, which has a kind of professorial vibe going on. The Denver & Liely glasses are hand-blown from lead-free crystal and there's enough room inside one for an ice cube or two as well.

Norlan Rauk Heavy Tumbler

Best Rocks Glass

Norlan Rauk Heavy Tumbler

norlanglass.com
$50.00

  • Inner chevrons allow for in-glass muddling

  • Weight can wear out the wrist over time

Norlan’s second glass is nothing like the other on this list. Whereas the classic Norlan Glass is lightweight and designed exclusively for sipping, Rauk is heavy and built to handle cocktails, too. How heavy is it? How about 1.26 pounds — each. The glass is made in an instant, as molten crystal is slammed by two machine molds, shaping the whole thing in one action. It’s perfect for an Old Fashioned.

Waterford Aras Old Fashioned Pair

Best Double Rocks Glass

Waterford Aras Double Old Fashion Glass (Set of 2)

2modern.com
$135.00

  • 12-oz capacity offers plenty of room for a double pour

  • Very expensive

Waterford has been making fine crystal glassware since 1783. Fashioned entirely of crystal, these glasses were designed as an homage to turrets lining the castles of the company’s native Ireland. If you’re one for the classics, there’s no other choice.

Viski Smoke Double Old Fashioned Glass

Best Budget Whiskey Glass

Viski Smoke Double Old Fashioned Glasses (Set of 2)

viski.com
$32.99

  • Smoked glass helps these stand out

  • Design isn't for everyone

Viski makes all sorts of attractive and well-made whiskey glasses (along with other types of glasses and barware) at affordable prices, and you really can’t go wrong with any of their options. For the most bang for your buck though, you should give these double old fashioned glasses a whirl. They’re sturdily built, boast a unique smoked appearance and even sport an original shape that both looks and feels great in-hand.

Whiskey Peaks

Best Conversation-Starter Whiskey Glass

Whiskey Peaks American Mountains (Set of 4)

huckberry.com
$60.00

  • Unique handblown designs make drinking more fun

  • Glass is thicker and less elegant on new models

If you’re looking for a whiskey glass that will have your guests talking, there's no beating Whiskey Peaks. The brand’s handblown, lead-free glasses feature raised topographic impressions of various mountains in their base, from the series of American peaks pictured here (Half Dome, Denali, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Whitney) to various global landmarks like Mt. Everest, Mt. Fuji and the Matterhorn.

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