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Issue 66 - Through the looking glass

Whisky Magazine Issue 66
September 2007


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Through the looking glass

Can the shape and quality of the glass really make a difference to the enjoyment of whisky? And will whisky follow the example of the wine industry with increasing numbers of glasses designed to complement different styles of dram? Richard Jones reports.

If you accosted a number of random strangers in the street and asked them to describe a whisky glass the chances are, after making sure you weren't after their mobile phone, that they would come up with something that broadly resembles the traditional whisky tumbler. With its straight sides, wide rim and heavy base, the tumbler remains one of the classic images of whisky service. You would almost certainly find this style of glass in your hand if you ordered a single malt or blend in most bars and pubs around the globe. A fact that Raymond Davidson of glass manufacturers Glencairn Crystal was all too aware of.

“I've been a whisky drinker all my adult life and I started to get fed up with the tumblers that were used in pubs,” he explains. “The tumbler is fine if you want ice or a mixer with your whisky, but it does little to enhance the aromas of a dram served neat or with a drop of water. It got to the point where I actually started to ask bar staff to serve my whisky in a wine glass.” Richard Andrews of Sandbar agrees: “the 10oz straight-sided old fashioned style glass that you find in pubs does nothing for the taste of whisky.” Steve McGraw, managing director of glassware company Riedel UK, notes that one of the problems with the whisky tumbler is its broad rim. “One of the main differences in designing a glass for a spirit as opposed to a wine is the alcohol. Alarge surface area in the glass serves to emphasize the alcohol, which can overpower the other flav...

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