Whisky and debates, an everlasting paring!!- Looking at the subject through a glass!
Blogging about whisky without ruffling a few feathers is not only difficult but quite impossible! Be it ‘Chill or Non Chill’, ‘IB or OB’, Aged whisky Vs NAS, or Packaging Vs Contents of the bottle, Scotch Vs World Whiskies. The list extends to a few more popular favourites and some which are not too popular. The ruling is that whisky and debates seem to pair extremely well and not necessarily in that order.
So I decided to give in to the temptation, pick a debate and add my tyranny to it. Everyone has a preferred glass when it comes to whisky. Some of the popular choices are
Whisky Tumblers or Old Fashioned Glasses– These are the most popular when it comes to whisky glassware. Remove the whisky geeks from the picture and you will see why this glass is so popular. Simple it’s easy to hold, it’s easy to drink from, and one can add ice or whisky stones, a stirrer in case of any additives. It also quite sturdy with a heavy bottom; looks classy and can be found almost anywhere!
The ‘Sherry Copita’- This one is very popular with the distilleries and good reason for that. It is designed like a wine glass for the aromas of the spirit to be concentrated, it’s got a stem for the blender to hold up against the light and assess the colour. It is quite comfortable to swivel the spirit inside to note the dregs. And maybe just to avoid getting the distillers intoxicated it is not very comfortable to drink from!!
The ‘Glencairn’ – is hailed as the “Official Whisky Glass”! It is a glass that makes whisky tasting fun which is what most whisky geeks want. Its shape is again conducive for the bouquet of the spirit to be directed at the nose. It also allows the spirit in the glass just the right amount of surface area exposure to air, too much exposure would lead to the alcohol evaporating more and makes nosing difficult. A sturdy heavy bottom to keep it from being knocked over and you need to be really skillful to add a large ice cube!
The others used are ‘Sinfters’, ‘Neat Glass’, and Brandy Balloons etc… So where does the debate start? We are in the middle just in case you dint notice. Which one is the best one?? I did watch a contradicting opinion tirade of ‘experts’ in a video featuring Jim Murray, Oliver Klimek and some others, it was fun to say the least!
Which is the best glass according to me? Well tell me which part of the world you live in? That would be the first of many questions that I would have on my list before declaring the winner! For me it works the same way as music does, you may love rock as genre but in a different environment may prefer blues or jazz. So the numbers of variables are too many for me to settle for one type of glass. Why is it so complicated? Let me attempt explanation with some examples
If you just enjoy the palate, taste and finish of the whisky I am quite sure the ‘Old fashioned’ is an excellent choice. It dilutes the bouquet to an extent which might be what you want. Some whiskies such as Ardbeg, Big Peat, Laphroaig can have a nose too dominating for the comfort of many. If you savor your whisky with ice then again this glass turns triumphs. But if you want to indulge in the many intricate aromas of the Balvienie 30 then this choice of glassware is abhorrently poor.
Why did I ask about the country that you live in? Has that got any relevance? Yes it does! In a tropical country such as India the average temperature hovers around the 28-30 degrees centigrade, a whisky at that temperature is not very pleasing. Come summer and the problem gets worse, now if you were using the ‘official whisky glass’ the Glencrain or for that matter the tumbler then you would be holding the glass in your palm adding some bit of additional warmth? I wonder if the thought came to you about heating the spirit in your glass! There is one way to avoid this but not recommended; drink up! And do it fast! The ‘Sherry Copita’ would be a good choice for such an environment. This glass, on the flipside; is not very comfortable to be carrying around in a party.
Is this a rant that is going to end up in stating that you need to carry around a case of different kinds of glassware to enjoy your poison? Quite on the contrary I would suggest you to stick to the one you find most suitable to your dramming sessions. With each of the glasses mentioned having their own pros & cons there may never be the perfect one for all situations. What I did realize that if you familiarize yourself with a glass to suit your needs you will learn how to get the best out of it (apart from the whisky in it!). Again giving you an example; the Glencrain when used in warmer climates, can be kept aside on the table when you are not nosing or drinking. This will avoid the body temperature being transmitted to the spirit. One more tip I can give to the readers of the subcontinent; if the last resort for lowering the temperature of the malt is adding ice you may want to attempt a saucer glass. These glasses will allow slightly higher evaporation of the alcohol due to a very large surface exposed to air resulting in a slightly cooler dram! Yes, you do lose out bit on the nosing. I am guessing if you are adding ice, losing a bit of the nose does not really matter to you! Whisky stones are another great option to cool off your drink without having to dilute it.
My personal favourite is a ‘C&S Open Up Ambient’ stemmed glass which is a sort of Glencrain with a stem. It allows me to do my tasting sessions well without fear of body temperatures being transmitted, apart from that; the surface area of the spirit exposed to air is quite good making it an ideal glass for a tropical country.