So you’ve done the difficult bit and decided between a single malt or a blended whisky, you’ve brought it home, settled into a good chair with good company or a good book and you’re all set to dive in, but then, surely a drop of the good stuff requires something similarly special to enjoy it from?
There’s a reason why we associate immaculate tableware with good restaurants and beautiful glassware with the best bars: they know it’s all part of the experience of enjoying a special occasion, a moment dedicated to your pleasure, that elevates the experience into something altogether transcendent.
Of course, your whisky will still be the same assembly of chemical constituents whatever you serve it in, but there is something to be said for the dance of amber light in a crystal glass, something about the weight in your hand of a well-made tumbler, maybe the clink of ice or a dash of water that heightens the sense of anticipation, and something ineffable to do with a moment of time devoted to yourself and to the rich, unique flavour of the drink you’re about to enjoy.
We have searched high and low, and bring you our favourites – a range of glasses, some rarefied choices for singular occasions, some centred around the conviviality of a shared experience, some chosen for quality and also with an eye for value, all chosen to bring something to make your inimitable tipple even more special.
Best vintage style
Now admittedly this one is a little niche, but bear with us. A professional, or master, blender is gifted the task of creating the perfect marriage of different flavours and aromas from disparate whiskies in order to make something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
To do so, they would need to be able to draw out as much of the personality of their blend as possible as they nose and taste it, and the design of this glass is based upon their tool of the trade circa 1920. For us mere mortals, this is more of an opportunity to savour our dram in one of the most unusual and beautiful whisky glasses we’ve ever seen.
The delicate stem supports a bulbous base, which then tapers to a very narrow top. The base allows you to give the whisky a good swirl, thus releasing all the aromas, which are then concentrated by the very narrow top. It’s not a glass for cask strength or younger, brasher whiskies, but if you’re about to enjoy a delicate, old malt, this will bring out its best. Be warned, that narrow top makes them fiddly to clean, but we say it’s worth it.
Best UK crystal brand
Dartington Crystal are a renowned UK glassware brand, specialising in subtle yet elegant drinkware that stands the test of time.
The weight of these glasses feels exceptionally satisfying in hand, and their slightly over-sized nature makes them ideal for allowing malt whiskies to air and release their flavours. Trust us - a dram has never tasted so good.
Best decanter set
We’ve already sung the praises of the Glencairn whisky glass, but if you’re thinking off investing in some and are on the lookout for a decanter, either for yourself or as a gift, this is an exceptional set.
The decanter reflects the same functional and aesthetically pleasing style as the glasses, and comes with a satisfyingly heavy glass stopper, giving it a sturdy and competent demeanour.
Best contemporary decanter set
We’re going out on a limb here, as this certainly isn’t cheap, but, oh my, this is a good-looking set. Open up the minimalist box and you’ll find a cork-embossed, walnut tray, a decanter, two glasses and a water jug. All the glassware has a very contemporary, stylish design with a distinctive indent in the base.
We felt that this belonged in the kind of minimalistic Scandinavian house of our dreams, but that isn’t to say it’s all about the looks. The glasses are satisfyingly heavy, the tray has a beguilingly dark, rich patina and is concave to secure the decanter, and the jug is satisfyingly functional.
It’s a harmony of clean lines and efficiency pitched against the organic, natural beauty of the wood, and did we say it’s rather beautiful?
Here's a classic. A reassuringly heavy, crystal glass with both a decorative flourish and a generous capacity. These substantial glasses are decorated with a traditional crosshatch design that catches the light beautifully and a lovely flourish in the star design cut into the base. They would also make quite the gift, arriving (as they do) in a satin lined presentation box.
The Timeless Tumbler set comes in at an extraordinarily reasonable price for 12 and has a classic cut-glass effect pattern. At this price point, we were pleasurably surprised by the thickness of the glass and the satisfying weight in the hand. When it comes to glassware, accidents can happen, and at this price we wouldn’t feel quite the same degree of heartbreak if we had to replace a set.
Glencairn whisky glasses
Glencairn glasses are very much the go to for the whisky connoisseur, their design formulated specifically for the scholarly appreciation of the water of life, and this is a lovely set for the price. The large base is ideal for swirling your chosen whisky to help it warm and aerate, and the glass is tapered towards the top to concentrate the aroma before taking your first sip.
At a modest 175ml capacity and with that aforementioned tapered top, if you’re more partial to adding ice cubes or mixers to your chosen drop, these aren’t really going to cut it. But if you’re more likely to savour your whisky neat, or with a few drops of water, these are the business.
Best engraved whisky glasses
You chose the whisky, you chose the moment, why note take a degree of ownership over the glass as well? This set of two glasses can be customised with the dedication or message of your choice, laser-engraved and set against a template you can choose from a selection of 24.
Accompanied by six whisky stones that you can pop in the freezer and then add to your whisky to cool it without diluting it, this all adds up to a rather charming package for a very reasonable price. Coming in a presentation wooden box emblazoned with the same design you’ve chosen for the glasses themselves, these would also make a delightfully idiosyncratic gift.
Best for style
The design of these glasses really caught our eye. There’s something of the art deco of the roaring twenties or the Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy about the way these tumblers swirl dramatically ever upwards, but they still feel nicely balanced in the hand, not to mention reassuringly solid.
Thanks to the crystal-clear glass the unusual twist also refracts the light beautifully, giving this a rather exhibitionist quality. Definitely a front runner for the party guests in the next Great Gatsby adaptation.
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