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The Perfect Whiskey Glass
The Perfect Whiskey Glass
These eccentric whiskey glasses were discovered by our friend David Hill of the Malt Guild. After years of research in Scotland with the best Scotch distillers in the world, he found this glass (a Turkish design) to best express the nose and taste of a fine whiskey.
A Scientific Analysis of the Perfect Whiskey Glass
Here's the starting point. Alcohol vapors are lighter than the other volatile organic compounds and esters that make up the nose of a whisky. In a typical glass that narrows toward the top, the aromas are concentrated inward - but so is the alcohol. Consequently, anything above 43% is impossible to accurately nose due to the spirit "burn".
The shape of this glass does three things.
First - If you place either 40 or 50 mil in the glass, you will see that the alcohol level is still below the point where the glass shape begins to reverse and curve out. In other words, the aromas and alcohol start with a concentration inward.
Second - The shape transition allows the alcohol to escape up the sides while the heavier aromas continue upward and inward. This occurs because the physical pressure and vaporization rates of the voc's are greater and slower than the alcohol. The alcohol is actually being pushed outward. In a typical nosing glass there is nowhere for it to go. This glass allows it to flow out from the center. Consequently, you can nose the center of the glass - even on a cask strength whisky - with no alcohol burn.
Third - This glass allows the user to nose and taste from the same glass. This is a tremendous convenience for a serious taster. In my club for example, we used to have two glasses at every place - one curving in for nosing and one straight sided or curving out for tasting. The theory used to be simple - a smaller concentrated shape for the smaller nose, and a wider opening shape for the wider mouth. This glass eliminates that need.
There is a fourth point; it simply feels good in the hand.
David originally saw an exaggerated version of this shape at the Bowmore Distillery on Islay about 4 years ago. (They still sell that glass.) Later, he saw an ad for an even more exaggerated version with a reasonable explanation of why the shape works. However, this company wanted $40 per glass!
He tested the shape and made certain the explanation was chemically correct and here we are.
If you think about the typical Glen Cairn or other nosing glasses, they actually emulate the shape of a still. A pot still is shaped to allow the lighter alcohol to escape while keeping other vapors behind. This shape is fine for a whisky and water, but makes absolutely no sense if you're trying to nose a 58% cask strength bad boy. The Perfect Whiskey Glass is logical, comfortable, and reasonably priced.