Different Types of Scotch Glasses

The Evolution Of Scotch Whiskey Glasses & Why They Are Heavy

Different Types of Scotch Glasses

With the many different ways to enjoy scotch whiskey, it has always been a challenge for glassmakers to create the perfect scotch glass that will allow drinkers to savor their beloved drink’s complex flavors to the fullest. This is evident in the myriad of scotch glasses that have been developed over the years.

Typically, scotch glasses have a heavier body than most wine glasses and beer glassware. The main reason for this is that it ensures stability and prevents the glass from spilling its contents. To better understand the importance of its hefty weight, let’s take a closer look at the history and evolution of scotch glasses.

Quaich: The First Scotch Whiskey Drinking Vessel

The scotch glass story started in the 1500s when people used quaich to drink their Scotch whiskey. Ironically, the first-ever scotch glass is made of wood, making it lightweight — a far cry from the scotch glasses we all know today.

Derived from a Gaelic word that means cup, quaich is a wooden drinking bowl with small handles on both sides. During that time, artisans used different woods and created their own unique designs of quaich, which gave way to changing the drinking vessel’s form.

As time passed, the quaich, which was once built solely for function, became a symbol of power and wealth. People in higher society preferred their quaiches to be made of rare wood and embellished with precious metals. Silver quaich engraved with patterns were also popularized during this period.

The Tumbler Revolution

Whiskey Drinks on Bar Counter

The next significant event in scotch glass history happened in the 17th century when the iconic tumbler first appeared. Initially, the tumbler was designed with a rounded bottom. Its name came from the stories about its inability to stand. People claimed that if they put it down before finishing their drink, it would tumble over and spill its contents.

On the contrary, others claimed that the rounded bottom actually helped with the tumbler’s stability. It was heavily weighted, which allowed the glass to bounce back to its upright position when knocked over or dropped.

Made of glass, the tumbler was easier and cheaper to manufacture. It was mass-produced and made available to a wider market. Not too long, it became the most popular glass for scotch whiskey. Inevitably, in the 19th century, it overtook the quaich and replaced it as the traditional scotch drinking vessel.

The Arrival of Glencairn Whiskey Glass

Pouring single malt scotch whisky into Glencairn whisky glass on wooden table

In 1992, a panel of single malt whiskey experts tested a selection of 18 glasses, and each came with a unique shape and form. From this testing, they realized the importance of the glass’s shape in the overall drinking experience. Since then, the search for a better scotch glass continued.

It wasn’t until 2001 that the glassware industry officially introduced Glencairn whiskey glass to the market. Like many other scotch glasses developed before it, this newcomer retained the tumbler’s solid base and improved its shape. The tulip-shaped vessel helps concentrate and capture the liquor’s aroma, giving the drinker a multi-sensory adventure.

Developed in Scotland, where the scotch originated, some connoisseurs claim that the Glencairn whiskey glass is the best option to drink your scotch from. Additionally, this scotch glass is the first glass style endorsed by the Scotch Whisky Association.

Your Scotch, Your Choice

Scotch glasses come in distinct forms and sizes to meet every drinker’s need to enhance their malt whiskey enjoyment. But when it comes to stability, they are all built to keep their contents intact. Whether you want to drink your scotch neat, on the rocks, or any other way, there is the right scotch glass to hold your favorite liquor spill-free.

Which scotch glass do you prefer? Let us know in the comment section below.



  • Glencairn.


    Jeanine M STILES

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