While there may be nothing wrong with drinking whiskey from an orange juice glass—or, heaven forbid, a plastic tumbler—genuinely experiencing single malt scotch or other fine whiskeys requires a proper whiskey glass. Whiskey glasses come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from snifters for tasting fine bourbons and single malt scotches to tumblers for classic Manhattans to highballs for a scotch and soda. These glasses feature heavy bases that provide balance, offer tapered brims for sipping, and protect the spirits from the temperature of your grip.
If your home bar needs a quality set of whiskey glasses, read on to learn more about this specialty glassware, and find out why the glasses below are some of the best for fine spirits.
- BEST OVERALL: Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Glass
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: LUXU Whiskey Glasses-Premium 11 OZ Glasses Set of 6
- BEST HIGH-END: Waterford Crystal Lismore 9oz Glasses, Set of 4
- BEST DOUBLE-WALLED: Norlan Whisky Glass, Set of 2
- BEST TULIP: Glencairn Whisky Glass Set of 4
- BEST HIGHBALL: Paksh Novelty Italian Highball Glasses (Set of 6)
- BEST SNIFTER: Luxbe – Brandy & Cognac Crystal Glasses Snifter
- BEST TUMBLER: Riedel Drink Specific Glassware Rocks Glass, 9 oz
- BEST NEAT: The Neat Glass Official Competition Judging Glass
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Whiskey Glasses
There are a surprising number of factors to consider when choosing a simple whiskey glass, including shape, feel, quality of the glass, how easy it is to drink from, and whether it’s dishwasher safe.
Glass quality is an important consideration when choosing a whiskey glass. Quality whiskey glasses consist of high-quality glass or crystal. Some feature tempered glass capable of withstanding shocks while also holding up to the dishwasher’s heat and pressure. High-grade glass offers superior clarity and brilliance.
Whiskey glasses come in a variety of forms, each of which has particular characteristics.
- A tumbler has thick, straight walls and a substantial base that adds durability and weight. Its wide mouth and large capacity allow it to handle mixed drinks and ice cubes. However, it’s not ideal for nosing higher-end whiskey due to its large mouth, which allows much of the aroma to escape.
- With its narrow mouth and rather dainty flat base, the more delicate snifter is an excellent option for higher-end whiskeys. It features a bulbous bottom that can be gripped firmly in the palm and a narrow top that condenses the aroma, allowing the drinker to fully savor the spirit. A large flat bottom similar to that of a wine glass provides an ample base to support the glass when it’s not cradled in the user’s hand.
- A tulip-shaped snifter is narrower with tall sides and a top that tapers in from the bowl, further condensing the whiskey’s aroma. A broad base keeps the drinker’s hand further from the drinking lip, preventing the palm from warming the liquid. Its narrow bowl shape helps to concentrate smells, making it better for nosing.
- The highball is similar to a tumbler, only bigger at about 6 or 7 inches tall. This type of glass can hold up to 12 ounces, giving it plenty of capacity for whiskey, a mixer, garnishes, and ice, making it the best option for larger mixed drinks such as a Seven and Seven or a John Collins.
- Neat whiskey glasses are more scientific than they are aesthetically attractive. A neat glass consists of a short bulbous shape with a flared lip. This glass functions to remove the harsher ethanol molecules when liquid is swished around the glass, allowing the drinker to take in the more pleasing whiskey molecules. Their smaller capacity—they only hold a couple of ounces—is designed for tasting fine whiskeys served straight up. This is the best glass design for fully appreciating spirits.
Whiskey glasses vary in weight and feel. Tumblers are larger and heavier than other glasses, weighing a pound or more empty. Snifters are reminiscent of wine glasses, with a bulbous shape and thinner, more delicate glass, and may weigh 4 ounces or less. Snifters are bowl-shaped and designed to be cradled in your palm. Tulip-style snifters have smaller tapered reservoirs with substantial bases that allow you to hold them from the stem, preventing your hand from warming the whiskey.
Most whiskey glasses feature thicker and heavier bases that prevent your hand from warming the whiskey. The weight also gives the glass a lower center of gravity for a better feel when lifted and to keep the glass rooted to the table when set down. The lip, on the other hand, features thinner glass conducive to sipping. The brim is sometimes tapered to fit the contours of the lower lip for more comfortable drinking.
While many whiskey glasses are too delicate or oddly shaped for safely stacking, others feature contoured nesting designs that allow glasses to be safely stacked one inside the other, up to two or even three glasses tall. This allows for easier storage of large sets of glasses in a bar or cabinet.
For convenience, washing in a dishwasher is preferable to handwashing. Many thicker highball and tumbler-style glasses are dishwasher safe, while more delicate snifters and neat glasses require handwashing. Most manufacturers state whether their glasses are safe for the dishwasher or not.
Whiskey glasses come in various shapes, sizes, and styles, ranging from a cylindrical glass with a thick base to multisided geometric shapes, modern twist styles, and intricate crystal patterns. When choosing a set of whiskey glasses, it’s best to select a design that fits in with your existing bar glassware.
Our Top Picks
The list below includes the best whiskey glasses in their respective classes, taking into account the above considerations. Many are made by some of the more respected manufacturers of wine and mixed drink glasses.
This classic yet modern-looking whiskey glass from German glassmakers Schott Zwiesel features brilliant Tritan Crystal, which offers more durability than standard glass. With an empty weight of about 8 ounces, it has a substantial base and thick walls capable of withstanding rough handling and many trips through the dishwasher. The rim, bowl, and base are tempered to endure greater shock while resisting chipping.
The sides taper into a bowl that is supported by a heavy base that prevents tipping. The opening is wide enough to accommodate a large ice cube. This glass measures 3.5 inches tall with a capacity of 9.6 ounces, making it large enough to handle a variety of mixed drinks on the rocks.
Get enough glasses for you and your guests at an affordable price with this set of six glasses from Luxu. The glasses feature a simple cylindrical design with a broad base. With a sizable 11-ounce capacity, these glasses can hold everything from a mint julep to a classic Manhattan with plenty of room for you to make it a double or add more ice.
With their wide 3-inch diameter mouth and 3.6-inch height, these glasses can hold 2-inch round or square ice cubes. A substantial base and thicker glass give them a nice feel, while allowing them to absorb more shocks than a thinner glass. These glasses are tough enough to endure the rigors of the dishwasher.
Drink your fine Irish whiskey from a glass with a Gaelic background—this tumbler-style glass is made of legendary Waterford crystal. This set comes with four glasses, each of which features a beautiful pattern of diamond cuts with a series of symmetrical wedge shapes that mimic the battlements of Lismore (which means “great ringfort” in Gaelic). This intricate design is inspired by the many towers of Lismore Castle, located in County Waterford, Ireland.
Combined with the high-quality crystal, this web of shapes creates dazzling light refraction with the whiskey’s color. The glass tapers to a small round base, making it comfortable for cradling in the palm of your hand.
The unusual shape of this glass created by its double walls may make your furrow your brow at first sight. There is a method to its shape: This glass features an internal wall with undulating inner curves and angles that reduce the ethanol burn of whiskey fumes, improving the aromatics so you can breathe in the spirits without the burn of intense alcohol fumes.
The double-walled design creates a hollow inner core that keeps this glass at a light empty weight of just 4.4 ounces. The outer wall angles inward at the bottom to create a small base that fits comfortably in your palm or rests firmly on a coffee table, while the outer rim curves outward to facilitate sipping. Each set includes a microfiber cloth for cleaning the glass to perfect clarity to impress the guests at your next cocktail party.
If you really want to savor the taste of fine whiskey, you may want a set of Glencairn whiskey glasses. They feature a tulip shape that concentrates the aromas, making them perfect for fine scotch and other whiskeys. The delicate lip is ideal for sipping. A short, stout base provides a durable foundation for setting this glass down on a bar or coffee table, while also allowing you to hold the glass without warming the spirits with your hand.
With its narrow and delicate mouth, the Glencairn whiskey glass is best for serving drinks neat (unmixed with no ice). Each glass holds six ounces, making it a good option for fine, single-malt whiskeys. Each set comes with four glasses.
Made from high-quality Italian glass, these highball glasses are an excellent addition to your home bar. Each glass is 6.5 inches tall with a diameter of 2.5 inches. With a 13-ounce capacity, each cylindrically shaped glass offers ample room for a scotch and soda, pina colada, or any mixed drink of your choice.
A thick bottom provides an ample base and balance for this glass, helping to prevent tip-overs. This glass’s simple look makes it an elegant option for cocktail parties. This set is dishwasher safe, making them easy to clean.
These beautiful, large 6.5-inch-tall snifters are a perfect option for sipping high-end whiskeys and brandy or cognac. The round shape maximizes aromatics, allowing you to get the fullest taste from your spirits. With lead-free crystal, you won’t have to worry about dangerous chemicals leaching into your drinks. Its large 25.5-ounce size holds several shots of whiskey without throwing off the balance of the glass.
The rounded shape of the bottom allows for a comfortable grip, letting you warm the liquid with your hand, while a short stem and flat base prevent accidental tipping and spills. This set of four glasses is dishwasher safe, making cleanup easy.
Ice and mixes take up precious volume in a glass, taking away from the most critical element—the whiskey. With a capacity of 9 ounces, this tumbler-style glass from Riedel can handle large ice cubes without crowding out the spirits. It features an attractive geometric shape, which adds dazzling light refraction to your mixed drinks.
These glasses are suitable for traditional mixed whiskey drinks such as the Old Fashioned and Manhattan. A beveled base rests securely on a cocktail napkin or coaster without sticking. With its wide opening, it can comfortably handle large ice cubes. This set of two glasses is dishwasher safe.
This unique pair of glasses, featuring a bowl shape with a flared lip, offers the most scientifically pure way of experiencing top-shelf spirits. When alcohol is swirled in the glass, the shape helps to dissipate alcohol fumes so you can enjoy the full aromas of the whiskey without the burn that numbs your sense of smell. Not convinced? This glass has become the decanter of choice for tasting competitions.
The NEAT glass comes in sets of one, two, and four, each with a capacity of 2 ounces, making it suitable for sipping alcohol neat with no ice, water, or mixer. This glass even comes with a set of instructions for how to use it to maximize your tasting experience.
FAQs About Whiskey Glasses
If you are still wondering what makes a whiskey glass a whiskey glass, then read on for answers to the most commonly asked questions about this glassware.
Q. Is there a difference between whiskey and scotch glasses?
Scotch is a type of whiskey made exclusively in Scotland using malted barley. Scotch uses the same kind of glasses as other whiskey types, including bourbon, rye, and various blends.
Q. Do whiskey glasses make a difference with taste?
Given that your sense of smell plays a role in taste, the glass’s shape significantly impacts the whiskey’s flavor. The glass’s shape affects how the fumes from the whiskey distribute into the air, impacting the aroma and, hence, how you taste the spirit.
Q. Why are whiskey glasses heavy?
The thick base of the glass, which creates a barrier to prevent it from being warmed by your hand, adds to the glass’s weight. Its ample size and largemouth allow it to accommodate large ice cubes and mixers as well as spirits.