The Glencairn Glass

First produced in 2001 the Glencairn has become something of a go to choice for a great many whisky drinkers inspiring a number of similar glasses. Noting that whisky has never had an official glass in the same way as wine, sherry or brandy Glencairn Crystal Ltd founder and managing director Raymond Davidson set out to create one, modelling it on the sherry copita traditionally used by master blenders. In conjunction with five master distillers;  Robert Mcelroy from Diagio, David Stewart from William Grant & Sons, Robert Hicks from Allied Distillers, Richard Paterson of Whyte & Mackay and John Ramsey of the Edrington group, Paul Davidson (eldest son of Raymond Davidson) revised his fathers original prototype. The original smaller glass, which was never patented and is thus produced by other brands, evolved into the large bulbous we use today.
The Glencairn glass is perfect for appreciating colour, nosing and tasting whisky
The wide bowl allows for full appreciation of the whiskies colour, the tapered mouth of the glass facilitates nosing enhancing appreciation of the aromas and savouring your whisky. It’s no wonder it’s fast becoming the default glass at whisky tastings throughout Scotland and Ireland. Now if we can only convince bars and pubs to adopt it we can finally ditch the old fashioned tumbler! You can learn more from with the below video from Richard Patterson as well as my references & reading list.

Richard Patterson on the Glencairn Glass

My name is Richard Patterson I'm the master blender for Whyte and Mackay representing obviously the Dalmore single malt, Isle of Jura, the Fettercairn and Tamnavulin.

The Importance of Scotch Whisky

What makes Scotch whisky so important is actually Scotland itself it is a unique area it has four divisions, the lowlands, the highlands, the cambeltons and the isla. From their we get 108 distilleries as individual as they come. Quite complex in their own way and so fantastic as well, and that's what makes it so unique it cannot be copied anywhere else in the world.

The Importance of Serving Whisky

The receptacle of serving whisky is so important and I maintain this by using the synopsis that we need to have the right cask that will maintain the whisky and it's the same with the glass you must have the right glass to assess the whisky. Now many years ago we had the typical Paris goblet which was of course very important but when it came to assessing the whisky in a bar. Can I just show you, you see when you swirl it around you end up putting most of the whisky on the floor before you even nose it. Whereas the Glencairn crystal glass has that shape similar to the blenders glass today that allows you to pour it in to the glass but more importantly hold it. It allows you to look at it, swirl it around, smell it and then appreciate it.

The Importance of the Glass

I can remember, oh quite a long time time ago, it was the early '80s when i was introduced to the Glencairn crystal glass. Raymond Davidson the managing director he had started to design this glass but it wasn't until about 2000, until we really got together with other blenders we went through that specification. We noticed, originally it was quite small, it wasn't as bulbous as you see today. And that changed and slowly but surely this is what the glass developed through our interpretation they way it could be held the way it could be nosed and from that this wonderful glass was born. It's very much shaped like the normal Copita glass that you can see, this is the standard glass that we use for assessing the whisky, you can see already the similarities the bulbous way that you hold the glass at the bottom, you don't get too much contact with the skin therefore you're not warming the whisky but it allows you to swirl the whisky around and get right into it in almost the same way as a master blender. You can first of all see the colour of it and then it allows them to nose it taking the time to say "hello, how are you?" getting into the spirit and letting it rise to the occasion. And then identifying all of the wonderful nuiances associated with Scotch whisky. More than anything it actually identifies Scotch whisky, when you think of the Glencairn glass you don't think of wine you think of Scotch whisky and that's what makes it so special. Getting the consumer to think about Scotch whisky, not just blended whisky but single malt as well.


References & Reading

BBC (2006) Whisky glass wins Queen's Award. Available at Bryson, L. (2014). Tasting Whiskey: An Insider's Guide to the Unique Pleasures of the World's Finest Spirits. Storey Publishing Yaffe, D. (2013). Drink More Whiskey: Everything You Need to Know About Your New Favorite Drink! Chronicle Books

View or Post Comments