Thursday, April 22, 2010

Glassware for your whisky

So you are moving into the wild wonderful world of whisky (ey) and want to know what the best thing to drink it from is? Or you are a seasoned veteran of whisky and just need a memory jog about which glass is the right one to use. The snobs will not like my answers for this but here goes. Being a lover of whisky (ey) I have been known on occasion to tip up the bottle and drink straight from the source, hell if I could get my mouth to a tap on the actual cask I would probably drink it right from there on occasion. This is of course not recommended behavior while at a bar or eating establishment or at an office party or friend’s dinner party… no! Honestly though there is something really freeing and satisfying about hoisting a $70.00 bottle of Macallan Fine Oak 18 year old and just taking a grand swig right from the bottle. It feels great and it tastes great and yes if you have never done this you should do it as soon as you have the time and the proper mood descends over you. There are of course times when we must pour our whisky into a container and drink it from the container. A good flask is another great way to enjoy a swig of whisky and folks have been known to bring such things to sporting events or concerts use judgment any time you drink and consider any consequences such as having your flask confiscated or being tossed out of a game or event.
That is all well and good but what other alternatives are there? First and foremost if at all possible never ever drink whisky from a paper cup, plastic glass, or from anything made out of any material other than pure plain glass. Crystal is ok too and many prefer it but it is pricey. Several manufacturers make a wide selection of glassware and a highball glass is a pretty good choice for enjoying whisky. Highball glasses are the shorter glasses, no stem, just about 4 inches or so tall and are more than adequate for straight whisky, whisky and spring water, on the rocks or with spring water and on the rocks. There is nothing wrong with buying some really good heavy shot glasses for those times you just want a wee dram or two. These days you can get what I will call a large shot glass which holds 2 or 3 shots but retains the shot glass shape with a thick glass bottom that reduces chances of spills.

There are special nosing glasses that look pretty much like a tulip shaped wine class and these are used by experts and novices alike to “nose the whisky” and these are the folks that come up with the words like “hints of vanilla, toffee, honey, with a light caramel finish loaded with hints of dark chocolate.” If that is you and you enjoy that sort of thing then that is wonderful. I have yet to taste any of those things in any scotch or other whiskey but I fully admit that is probably my fault for some arcane reason. As I have stated before I do pick up oak, sherry, Madeira, smoky, and maybe a few times a slight sea saltiness but never any of the candy store flavors or shoe polish (an actual taste that some report – who the hell would want to drink shoe polish???), banana oil, or a host of other tastes that I regret to report I have never tasted in whisky. I would even admit to maybe…..maybe picking up a bit of vanilla extract….maybe. At any rate to nose the whisky and seek this carnival of tastes and smells one would use a nosing glass and there is even a small glass disc that one may obtain to place over the top of the tulip shaped nosing glass that is supposed to hold in the bouquet and concentrate it so that when you lift the glass disc you get the concentrated blast of aroma and then you use your nose to “nose” the whisky. As you may guess I don’t really do this much. If you like doing that, then that is wonderful, enjoy. This blog is all about what you like and I know some folks really want to learn to do that sort of nosing and tasting and for them I suggest Single Malt TV, a web TV channel that one can watch shows about whisky, or a magazine (paper or online) called “ The Malt Advocate”, or a magazine called “Whisky Magazine”. I love both magazines and the web TV channel and I read and watch often. They are great!!! They can take you further down that path of enlightened nosings and tastings. I am here as a simple whisky loving man to discuss whisky (ey) with you and revel in the glory and pure enjoyment of it through discussions and us helping one another find new and different whiskies to enjoy.

While I want to share my experiences and likes with you I really am serious about wanting to know what you like or don’t like. Please comment to any of our articles often and let us know what you think. We do care (for real – no kidding) about what you think and what you drink. So highball glass for nominal whisky drinking or go visit Crate and Barrel or Bed Bath and Beyond or any store that sells glassware or look online and pick out some glasses you like and get 2 or 4 of them and take them for a test drink (I won’t say test drive for obvious reasons) and use what is comfortable for you. Recently I was served a glass of Compass Box blended scotch (excellent stuff) in what I believe was a brandy snifter as the bar keep (publican to you British and Irish folks) noticed I was trying to nose it and that worked great. I’m sure the authorized, venerated, and official nosing glasses do it best but sometimes you have to make do with what you have. One note of exception to all this, if you are going to enjoy your whisky around a pool area of at the beach then maybe it would be ok to either use a good quality plastic glass or your metal flask as to avoid injury from broken glass to you or others. My whisky glasses used to be Flintstone Grape Jelly glasses that used to come with your Welches brand grape jelly and they work but once we started making over $20K a year I splurged and bought real highball glasses. After all, friends and neighbors, it’s all about the whisky, everything else is just foo-foo. Enjoy!

The Whisky Warrior

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