By Richard Thomas
In my book, a hallmark of an insufferable snob is insisting that only certain glasses (worse, just one type of glass) is suitable for drinking whisky. My stock response is “tell that to Jimmy Russell and Booker Noe, who used to drink their stuff out of Dixie cups.” I could just as easily point to the numerous distillers and blenders in Scotland I’ve seen happily enjoying a nice single malt with plenty of water from a tumbler or highball glass.
Glassware is not a necessity, but it is absolutely a great accessory. Certain types of glassware definitely enhance the nosing of a whisky, and for an enthusiast a set of pretty glasses are just a nice thing to have around.
That means if you have a whisky enthusiast among your close friends or family, glassware is a good gift buy. It’s certainly much easier to pick out than picking out an actual bottle of whisky. Even a fellow enthusiast might have a hard time whisky shopping for a friend, but selecting nice glassware is pretty straightforward. Certainly figuring out what the person you intend to give it to already has is easier.
These five options are the latest in whisky glassware, and any enthusiast would be pleased to add them to their collection.
Norlan Vaild Black Edition: When Norlan Whisky Glass launched the crowdfunding for their elegantly designed glass, which combined the best features of a nosing glass with a small tumbler, it became an instant sensation in whisky circles. They recently followed up on their original with a black matte version.
Some croakers have derided the concept, essentially saying “An opaque glass, so I can’t see the color of the whisky? What is the point of that?” Making that point ignores the metal, stone and wood tumblers also out there (see below for an example). I wouldn’t use an opaque glass for my professional evaluations, but there is nothing wrong with one for my “unofficial” drinking.
And on that note, the Norlan black glass is chic. Stealth-fighter style black matte has become a popular choice for walls, cars and all manner of things, and the inside of the glass is done in a reflective coat that catches the light that comes inside the cup and reflects it through the liquid. It’s not what I was expecting and just plain cool. Expect to pay $58 for a pair.
Discommon Lowball 2 Glass: The price tag on just one of these cups is so hefty that it’s more than most enthusiasts would consider spending on a single bottle of prized whisky ($280 each!). So, this is definitely for the people who are shopping with a large budget.
As for why the cup costs so much, it’s lathed from high grade aluminum. That is lathed, not cast. So it’s expensively made from pricey metal and it looks it. Like the Norlan above, the interior is shaped to maximize nosing and the exterior has an attractive black coating, with the added bonus of a stylish, textured gripping surface.
Haywood Ceramic Tumbler: If there is a theme in glassware this year, it was to go with a sexy black look. This item does that in ceramic, essentially taking the handle off a cool coffee mug. As such, it’s the cheapest option for this kind of thing you can get, at $22 a pair.
Nisnas Wood Tumblers: These crafty woodworkers started out in glassware by introducing their Oak Honey Tumbler, a wooden tulip cup with a stainless steel base, finished in beeswax. They are set to introduce a second model, the Madison & Oak, that puts the stainless steel as a rim around the top, due out in February. In both cases, the cups are shaped from a single piece of white oak, so they aren’t cheap, but they are discounted for buying in bulk. A single cup is $68, two is about $110, and four is $185.
Whiskey Freeze Cooling Cups: The notion of chilling whisky without diluting it with ice cubes has produced an array of products, such as whiskey stones, repurposed stainless steel ball bearings, and big ice globe molds. HOST took the path of making the cup itself into a thermal sleeve, so you chill the cup and put the whisky in. It’s as simple as can be, does the job and cuts a distinctive appearance, with two cups costing about $20.