Does the Glass Matter in Whisky?

Glencairn, Norlan, NEAT, tumbler... does glassware matter in drinking whisky?The glass you use matters but I don’t let it define my whisky experience.

I’m a relative novice when it comes to enjoying whisky. I very much enjoy the flavors but I don’t sit there savoring every last drop every single time I drink it.

It’s like music. Sometimes I like listening to the beat, sometimes I want to hear the words, and sometimes I just want to vibe with the general mood and not get too into it.

For the longest time, people drank whisky from any old glass because it meant whisky was getting into your body. There are debates over which is the best glass for scotch whisky but personally I think there are a few that honestly are different and worth looking at.

The rest is all fluff.

Personally, I usually use one of two glasses – a Glencairn or the NEAT whisky glass. I’ll explain why, plus a nod towards a new entrant to the market, and then I want to hear your opinion.

Glencairn Glass

Besides a regular tumbler, which everyone knows about and needs no clarification, the tulip-bulb shaped Glencairn is probably the most popular glass. The Glencairn was designed to be like the nosing glasses used in distiller labs, when the professionals are nosing their work to check for quality and consistency. The shape is meant to intensify the nose on the whisky, which for novices can singe. 🙂

Personally, I like these glasses because of the intensity. Since they’re so popular, they’re also relatively inexpensive. A pair will run under $15.

NEAT Whiskey Glass

I was sent a few NEAT glasses to give them a try several years ago and they really are kind of neat. I nosed the same dram in a Glencairn and in the NEAT and the NEAT delivered on its promise that it evaporated ethanol vapors and bring out the other aromas in a whisky.

The shape isn’t unique but they’re more pronounced – it’s a tulip shape but more exagerated. The top tapers in more and the base is wider, which will allow you to swirl it a bit to wake up the spirit. It’s a fun glass to drink but near the end of a dram it does feel weird since you have to tip the glass nearly vertically for the last of the spirit to escape!

The NEAT glass is also affordably priced at under $20 for a pair.

Norlan Glass

In recent years, there have been several whisky glass makers who have claimed whisky is tastier in their glass. The most recent, as of late 2017, is the Norlan Whisky Glass. I’ve personally never used it but there’s no debating how nice the glass looks.

As for the design, it was “digitally crafted” with help from distiller Jim McEwan (formerly of Bruichladdich). It’s double-walled tumbler design with curves meant to simplify the drinking experience and aerate the whisky, to reduce ethanol vapors and lower the need to add water.

The only knock against the glass is that a pair will set you back $48.

What do you think? Does the glass matter to you?

Hot Toddy Cold Remedy Recipe

Colds suck.

Whiskey does not. So when I learned that a “hot toddy” might be the cure for the common cold… well OF COURSE I had to test it out. (yes yes, we realize this won’t cure anything… but it will alleviate your symptoms!)

A hot toddy is what it sounds like, it’s a mixture of whiskey, hot water, and honey. You can use other dark liquors too, like rum or brandy, but since we have whiskey on hand we might as well use our favorite… right? 🙂

You can add other aromatics, like cinnamon, cloves, a slice of lemon, or others; and you can swap out tea for the hot water. It basically sounds like other home cure remedies for colds, except with a shot of whiskey.

Here’s a little factoid that might put a smile on your face… it’s called a “hot whiskey” in Ireland and the “toddy” comes from a drink made in India. A toddy is made by fermenting the sap of palm trees!

The recipe itself is very simple:

  • 1 oz. of whiskey
  • 1 Tablespoon of honey
  • 1/4 cup of hot water

Pour the whiskey and honey into a mug then fill with a 1/4 cup of water, dissolving the honey into the mixture. You can add a few teaspoons of lemon or replace the water with a nice hot tea. Avoid the flavored teas as it’ll confuse your palate, but your favorite tea should suffice.


My Thoughts on Accelerated/Speed Whiskey Aging

When I moved into my first apartment, I bought most of my furniture from a nearby IKEA. IKEA makes great furniture as long as you never have to move it! My general rule is that if the furniture as moving parts, like drawers, then it’ll survive one move. If you try to move it again, it’s going to fall apart unless you reinforce it with some extra hardware.

The furniture works great though, it’s just not going to last forever. It has it’s role to play and does it just fine.

That’s how I feel about this whole new accelerated aging talk. I’d heard about Cleveland Whiskey and their “disruptive technology” before but it re-entered my mind when I read this article on accelerated whiskey aging on The Whiskey Wash.

I won’t go into the science but my feeling on this is that:

  1. The technology is cool but just like my thoughts on IKEA furniture, speed aging has its place. I don’t believe it’ll be as good as the old school methods but I don’t think it should be compared to old school methods.
  2. Legislation needs to be introduced so that labels are accurate. I want to know it’s been speed aged/
  3. It’ll be fun to see what adventurous mixtures they come up with!
  4. I know there’s a heavy dose of marketing and business involved in all of this. Speed aging will be cheaper than storing barrels for many years. It’ll also help satiate some demand,
    which might mean the older stuff isn’t as expensive!
  5. It’ll never replace the traditional methods. I’m not worried about that…

I’m not an old curmudgeon who thinks the old way is always the best way. But it might be. 🙂

I’m not clamoring to get a speed aged whiskey just because it’s a cool technology.

I will welcome new flavor combinations and profiles because it’ll only make the enjoyment of whiskey more fun!

Here’s what some folks in the Facebook had to say about it:

  • Joel A. – Interesting stuff
  • Wayne B. – I wouldn’t waste a nickel on it…no clone or android whisky for me ????. … To buy it is to render support to it. I think it’s well-established – the right to buy of one’s own choosing…and to each his own opinion. The more NAS & android whisky bought and consumed, the dumber the palate and it encourages more of same to be produced.
  • Nathan L. – The worst whiskey I’ve had by far was from Cleveland with the “accelerated aging” BS. Worse than the Hudson Baby Bourbon…..
  • Bill B. – You may be able to mimic to an extent, but there’s no way to mimic the effect of years of aging and mellowing in a barrel.
  • Bruce B. – This is similar in nature to what has ruined fine vinegars. Ignorant consumers are responsible for much by accepting crap because it’s cheaper. Gmo veggies that look pretty with longer shelf lives that are less flavorful and less nutritious… people are idiots. Look at the average tomato: very pretty, very uniformly red, and yet has so much less flavor. I refuse to buy them. I buy heirlooms.
  • Joseph L. – Go to the grocer’s and get a bottle of Liquid Smoke. Add a few drops to a young scotch and there you go!

What do you think?

Magnum Cream Liqueur Review

It’s been a very mild winter here in Maryland this year and it’s a shame because one of my favorite adult beverages after a morning of shoveling snow is some Baileys Irish Cream in my coffee.

It’s a good combination because my wife’s favorite beverage is some Baileys Irish Cream in a glass with a couple of small ice cubes!

One of the things we’ve learned is that not all cream liqueurs are the same. We were at a store that didn’t have Baileys so we picked up a random irish cream liqueur and it tasted terrible. Whatever whisky that brand used was so harsh it wasn’t balanced by the cream.

So when I heard that there was a cream liqueur made not from Irish whiskey but from Scotch – boy did I perk up!

It’s called Magnum Cream Liqueur and it’s Dutch cream with whiskey from BenRiach, a Speyside distillery owned by Brown-Forman. Much like its more famous cream cousin, it’s 17% alcohol by volume.

I’m not going to give it the treatment I typically do for a whisky tasting note but I am going to say that when I enjoyed it with ice, it tasted decadent in its caramel and chocolatey richness. It was fruitier than Baileys, when I tried them side by side, and I felt like the whisky part shined brighter than in Baileys.

I also have to mention the bottle – it’s stainless steel, has these slick handles, and chills very very quickly. It’s also shaped as to not take up a massive amount of refrigerator space since it’s a cylindrical and not your typical fat bottom bottle.

Here’s a quick video about it:

If you’re a fan of cream liqueur, give it a look.

Do You Keep Whisky Boxes and Tubes?

An interesting question came up in the Facebook group today — the gist of is, why do you keep whisky boxes and tubes?

Personally, I keep some of them.

I put most of my whisky in a cabinet — a pair of simple Ikea Detolf glass display cases. If a bottle is open or I intend to open it in the near future, it sits in there with my glasses.

I put any “special” whiskies up on a bookshelf where I can, from time to time, smile and admire them from afar. Some of them are special treats for myself, gifts from others, or just look nice. I keep those boxes.

Otherwise, I keep the boxes and tubes that I like. If it’s hard to find (or at least hard to find for me!), then I keep it as a reminder.

Adam, in the group, gives a great reason to keep boxes — one that I’m going to steal:

“I keep a few tubes & boxes around for travel purposes. If I’m bringing 2 or 3 bottles to a local club tasting, it’s less stressful to place in tubes first, and then my backpack, rather than having the glass bottles clink around.”

Other reasons include protecting the whisky from light, which is a good reason but my open bottles don’t last long enough for that to matter!

Do you keep your whisky boxes and tubes? Why or why not?