Everyone enjoys sampling a good glass of whiskey, but the variety of glasses available for drinking this fine beverage can be confusing for some. Each type of whiskey glass has its own shape, style and purpose, and knowing the differences among them can enhance your whiskey drinking experience.

If there is a whiskey drinker you love in your life, whiskey glasses make a great gift, too. So whether you are curious for your own purposes or for future gift buying in the future, read on to learn all you need to know about these vessels and the ways they can make drinking whiskey even better than it already is.

The Five Qualities of Whiskey

Before you begin to learn about whiskey glasses, you should know what to look for when sampling whiskey. There are five qualities of whiskey that true whiskey connoisseurs consider when trying a particular brand or type.

Each style of whiskey glass exists to showcase and evaluate these five qualities in different ways.


The first thing to consider when sampling a new whiskey is its color. Whiskey comes in three main hues with varying shades in between – light gold, bright copper, or rich amber. The differences in color may indicate the maturation of the whiskey or the type of oak cask in which it was aged.


When sampling whiskey, the second thing that most people use to evaluate it is the nose. Not surprisingly, the nose has to do with the smell of the sample. The nose of a good whiskey can vary from nutty to fruity to chocolatey and more.


The body of the whiskey refers to the way it feels in the mouth of the sampler. When someone says a whiskey sample has a full body, it means the whiskey floods their mouth with flavor. There are also whiskeys with light and medium body.


After taking a sip and experiencing the feel of the body, it’s vital that the sampler takes a moment to roll the sample around in his or her mouth. In doing so, the flavor will reach all tastebuds, and the taste can be evaluated thoroughly.


Next, swallow. The quality of the finish refers to the amount of time and way that the flavors remain on your palate. A good whiskey should have a pleasing aftertaste that sticks around for a while.

The Five Main

Types of Whiskey Glasses

The different types of whiskey glasses aren’t just for aesthetics. They each have their own purposes and the type you seek for yourself or a loved one may differ based on tastes or needs. If you are a serious whiskey drinker, you may want to stock more than just one type in your home bar or kitchen.

Whiskey Tumbler / Rocks Glass / Old Fashioned / Lowball

The Whiskey Tumbler is the most common style of whiskey glass and is the one with which you are likely most familiar. These look like a regular, short glass with a wide mouth, and often have a little bit of weight to them in the base.

These glasses are great for sampling because they are easy to hold and drink from, and they make it simple to test all five qualities of a sample. You can add ice without difficulty and if you wish, you can mix a cocktail in them as well.

Highball Glass

A highball glass is similar to a whiskey tumbler but is much taller. These glasses look somewhat like a pint glass, but the sides are straight rather than slanted outward from the base.

Like the whiskey tumbler, highball glasses are a bit heavy and are quite comfortable to hold. The additional space offered by the added height allows for ice and mixer to be added. These glasses are perfect for people who like to enjoy their whiskey in a long and slow fashion.

The Glencairn Whiskey Glass

A Glencairn glass is for the serious whiskey connoisseur. These glasses are the vessel from which master distillers and blenders will test their concoctions. They have a unique shape; they are wider at the bottom than at the top, and have a stand at the bottom to keep the drink elevated from the table.

The reason for the interesting shape of the Glencairn glass is that it is designed specifically for tasting. It allows for excellent evaluation of all five of the main qualities of a good whiskey. If you are serious about whiskey tasting, this is the glass for you.

Tulip Glass

The tulip glass is similar in shape to the Glencairn glass, but it is more visually pleasing to some due to its wine glass-like stem. This type of glass also is great for serious tasters, and the stem keeps the taster’s hand from getting too close to the face, allowing for fuller enjoyment of the nose of the sample.

Snifter Glass

Snifter glasses are classy and were first used in gentlemen’s clubs in days of old. They are wide-mouthed which allows more air to reach the surface area of the drink.  Some connoisseurs like this, but others do not, due to the release of harsh vapors from the drink in this vessel.

Some glasses of this style have a round base which allows the user to set it down at an angle without spillage. Others have a stem at the base. Either way, this is the best style of glass for drinking dark and aged whiskey and other spirits.

Happy Tasting

No matter what type of glass you choose to use, drinking whiskey and tasting different types is a wonderful hobby that anyone of age can enjoy for years to come. Whiskey glasses can greatly enhance your whiskey drinking experience. There are so many different brands, types, and flavors and when you know what to look for, you can easily differentiate between them and find specific whiskeys that are just right for you.

If you want to learn more about everything related to the wonders of whiskey, check out our blog for more information on this exciting and life-enriching topic.