The 15 best whisky glasses for sipping your favourite bourbon, scotch, and rye

This list runs the gamut, from Glencairn glasses to finely cut crystal from Baccarat and Waterford.

Any casual whisky drinker—or anyone who’s watched Mad Men protagonist Don Draper pour an afternoon drink or three in his midcentury dream office—knows the spirit is more important than the glass it’s in. Still, you might walk away from a conversation with whisky purists believing that you need 11 different vessels to get the most out of individual varietals. This isn’t necessarily true, but if you’re interested in liquor or regularly share drams with guests, it’s worth having barware that’s well-suited to how you enjoy drinking.

Generally, you can split the best whisky glasses into two categories: aesthetics-first and function-first. If you’re drinking like Draper—whose famous glasses are of Dorothy Thorpe design, sets of which you can sometimes find on 1stDibs—you’re drinking more casually and with style top of mind. The classic shapes and styles of rocks glasses, tumblers, and brandy glasses are unfussy and ideal for that kind of dram. If you’re the type to scribble down tasting notes, it’s the smaller, olfactory science-focused glassware you want. But what to buy? We tried far, far too many to get to the bottom of it.

Best classic whisky glass
Riedel H2O classic bar whisky glass

Broadly, whisky glassware design is very nostalgic. So much Gilded Age. So much Art Deco. This means the combination of well-made and simple can be hard to find. Where there is a niche—but very annoying—problem in the barware world, Riedel usually has an offshoot collection to fill the gap.

The company’s H2O glass is designed to serve a variety of purposes and espouse a clean design that even maximalists will appreciate—once it’s in their hands, anyway. At 443 mililitres, it’s the same size as a classic Old Fashioned glass size and comes without the star, column, and herringbone patterning that adorns so many of its cousins. (That means it can stand in at a party when you’re serving both cocktails and single pours of the good stuff.) It is made of unleaded crystal, dishwasher safe, and, at roughly US$12 a glass, on the more affordable end of the whisky glass spectrum.

Material: Crystal
Size: 9.9 centimetres
Liquid Capacity: 452 mililitres
Number in Set: 6 (Amazon), 1 (All Modern)

Buy now on Amazon: US$74

Best old fashioned glass
Waterford Lismore straight-sided tumbler

Operating since 1783, Waterford is synonymous with fine glassware, and we could have easily filled this list from its portfolio alone. For variety’s sake, we’ve selected just one of its excellent wares: the Lismore Diamond Tumbler. A reinterpretation of early Waterford designs, Miroslav Havel’s design is a midcentury modern classic. Three factors working in unison make the drinking experience special: the circular cuts that run around the lower third of the glass, the vertical wedge cuts that bisect them, and the quality of the crystal itself. Together, the glass almost collects the light around it and refracts it toward the whisky in the glass. Great for sipping a good whisky neat or a round of Old Fashioned, drinking out of one feels important.

Material: Crystal
Size: 7.1 x 7.1 x 8.1 centimetres
Liquid Capacity: 207 mililitres
Number in Set: 2

Buy now on Amazon: US$126
Buy now on Bloomingdale’s: US$120

Most glamorous whisky glass
Richard Brendon diamond double whisky glass

If you plan on throwing a glamorous fêtae in the near future, an event that calls for a little more oomph, serving standard whisky glasses may not be the best course of action. Something that sparkles like a gem, that really draws the eye, that befits a black-tie affair, is what’s needed. And the brand synonymous with this kind of vibe is Richard Brendon.

Founded in 2013, the British brand sets itself apart by offering crystal pieces with flair, often using time-honoured handcrafted techniques that add to the appeal of a tumbler. In particular, this design—with the lower thirds of the glass featuring a pattern of brilliants that bolsters both the visibility and tactility—is a shining example. It’s a real gem.

Material: Crystal
Size: 8.4 x 8.9 inches
Liquid Capacity: 349 mililitres
Number in Set: 1

Buy now on Saks Fifth Avenue: US$147

Most unique whisky glass
Whisky Peaks the Rockies glasses

An ideal scenario for enjoying whisky is right after ripping it down the slopes, your face flushed and your adrenaline on overdrive. You’re also most likely overlooking a picturesque mountain view, the snowy tops and clusters of evergreens beckoning you to sit back and relax. Capturing all this in glass form is Whisky Peaks, a label that offers designs that are unlike the classic geometric patterns, a label that showcases reliefs of some of the most renowned, well, peaks in the world.

From the Rockies to the Pacific Northwest, the topography of these natural wonders can be found on a set of whisky glasses. Also, each one is handblown, meaning that no two are exactly the same. So, if you’re in the market for truly unique set, look no further than this package.

Material: Glass
Size: 7.6 x 9.2 centimetres
Liquid Capacity: 177 mililitres
Number in Set: 4

Buy now on Huckberry: US$60

Sleekest whisky glass
Nolan Rauk heavy whisky tumbler

Norlan’s aggro-modern aesthetic may not be for everyone, but the quality and craftsmanship are undeniable. The Rauk—”rock” in Old Scottish—is like the universe, made in a single blinding flash. Molten crystal slips into a five-piece mould that’s machine-pressed into a rocks glass fit for the set of Dune or Westworld. The base of the interior looks a bit like a three-dimensional seismograph which, despite being cool enough to justify itself on looks alone, also serves to assist in muddling ingredients in a cocktail. The base sits on four transparent points, which makes the glass appear to be levitating. Despite that, the most jarring feature is invisible; the smaller version of the glass weighs more than a pound, while the larger one is just shy of two pounds. While heft shouldn’t always imply quality, the weight of the glass adds to the drinking experience in this case.

Material: Crystal
Size: 9.4 x 7.5 inches
Liquid Capacity: 251 mililitres
Number in Set: 1

Buy now on Bespoke Post: US$50

Best highball whisky glass
Godinger Pleat gold band highball glasses

Sometimes one pour in one sitting isn’t going to cut it. You may need a double—or even a triple—to take the edge off. So, instead of constantly refilling your glass with your whisky of choice, opt for a highball instead. As the name clearly suggests, these pieces are long, sometimes double the size of standard tumblers. They’re also great if you want to pack in ice or add a mixer. And of the best options around is the four-piece set from Godinger.

The company has been specialising in crystals since 1973, offering designs with details that really shine. Case in point: This package, with a surface that features a pleated pattern and a silhouette that tapers. The rims are also gold-plated, giving your drink that added dose of sparkle. Indeed, it has the Midas touch.

Material: Crystal
Size: 7.1 x 15 centimetres
Liquid Capacity: 354 mililitres
Number in Set: 4

Buy now on Neiman Marcus: US$43
Buy now on Bloomingdale’s: US$40

Best minimalist whisky glass
Nude Alba whisky glasses

Not all luxe glasses need to be cut with the same patterns we’ve seen for the last 70 years or laser in on the purest whisky drinking experience; some glasses can simply look excellent on a bar cart. Nude’s Alba is one such glass. The base is thick and heavy and the walls are thin and taper slightly as they rise from the bottom. The pattern cut onto the glass is a subtle nod at the tartan patterns that dominate traditional barware in the whisky world.

Material: Crystal
Size: 8.3 x 8.9 centimetres
Liquid Capacity: 259 mililitres
Number in Set: 2

Buy now on Neiman Marcus: US$205

Best luxury whisky glass
Baccarat Massena tumbler

Baccarat, the older of the two dominant luxury glassware makers, was founded in 1764 by a wealthy French cardinal named Louis-Joseph dae Montmorency-Laval. Montmorency-Laval created the company with the express permission of King Louis XV, who is probably best known for losing the French-controlled lands in North America before the Revolutionary War (and setting the table for a revolution a little closer to home). The company went on to make stained-glass windows, chandeliers and all the fancy-people-in-the-19th-century accoutrements they were commissioned to—including some drinkware. The quality of the crystal and craftsmanship of the glasses is unparallelled.

The Massena Tumbler is one piece of the larger Massena collection, and it’s perfect for something special poured on the rocks. The glass’s design receives, contorts and fires light across rooms. It’s also the glass Bill Murray drinks Hibiki 17 out of in Lost in Translation.

Material: Crystal
Size: 9.9 centimetres
Liquid Capacity: 370 mililitres
Number in Set: 2

Buy now on Bloomingdale’s: US$290
Buy now on Bergdorf Goodman: US$290

Best tasting whisky glass
Glencairn whisky glass

Most “industry standard” products aren’t crafted with home users in mind, but the Glencairn can go from tasting room to living room with ease. Designer Raymond Davidson developed the glass hand-in-hand with master Scotch blenders to accentuate whisky specifically, rather than borrowing glassware from other booze industries. (Before the Glencairn’s release in 2001, the professional whisky sipping vessel of choice was the humble copita, a long-stemmed glass with a tulip-shaped bowl designed for drinking sherry). Davidson removed the stem and replaced it with a kind of glass knob on the base, making the glass less prone to breaks and much easier to store. The base of the bowl was widened to allow for more swirling, as well as to provide a clearer view of the spirit’s hue. Mercifully, the outward taper of the rim lessens the likelihood of whisky running from the glass and straight down your chin, too, which is a big plus.

The glass shape is excellent at allowing no-splash swirling and flushing the nose of the whisky toward the drinker. Though the glass is small (it’s meant to hold just 1.5 oz of liquid), there is room for water if you prefer it. Because of the glass’s durability, low price, and sip-focused utility, few glasses are better suited for a whisky tasting party.

Material: Glass
Size: 11.4 x 11.4 centimetres
Liquid Capacity: 177 mililitres
Number in Set: 4

Buy now on Amazon: US$50

Best whisky glass for aromas
The neat glass

Romanticisation is a fundamental tenet of whisky marketing. The makers of the NEAT glass didn’t get the memo. Though you can never be sure if a name was created with its acronym in mind, NEAT stands for Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology, and the glass is designed for sipping whisky neat. Even more than drinking, it’s designed for smelling. The designer’s manifesto argues traditional tulip-shaped glassware is more likely to burn your nose with a rush of ethanol than highlight a spirit’s quality. The way around this is a flared rim which works to instigate a more diffused evaporation than a traditional whisky sipping glass.

The shape and look are a bit strange and holding one feels a little fiddly, but there is a reason it’s been adopted as the official glassware for judging various spirits contests, including what’s widely considered the loftiest of them all: the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. If you take your whisky seriously, it’s a great option.

Material: Glass
Size: 9.4 x 6.4 centimetres
Liquid Capacity: 59 mililitres
Number in Set: 2

Buy now on Amazon: US$22

Best Outdoor Whisky Glass
Rabbit Freezable Whisky Glass

Though the brand is better known for corkscrews and other wine paraphernalia, Rabbit gets a lot right across all drinking categories. You likely won’t reach for its freezable whisky glasses when pouring something special, but, mercifully, whisky doesn’t have to be rare or obscenely expensive to be enjoyed.

Chilled whisky can be tricky, though—especially if you’re averse to dilution in the form of ice or water. Rabbit’s solution is glassware with built-in cold packs, which keep the spirit cool for two hours and change. Plus, a helpful silicon sleeve keeps your hands from going numb, and eight-ounce fluid capacity is just right (especially if you’re drinking straight whisky). It’s an ideal summer-at-the-lake glass and performs admirably whenever you want to take your glass outdoors.

Material: Glass
Size: 3.2 x 4 inches
Liquid Capacity: 8 ounces
Number in Set: 2

Buy now on West Elm: US$39

Best Whisky Glass for Purists
Riedel Vinum Single Malt Whisky Glass

Though the Glencairn steals most of the shine today, other companies had a go at making whisky-specific glassware before it became the standard. Riedel’s Vinum Single Malt Whisky Glass is one such effort and, though some more modern and science-focused options on this list may offer more “pure” sipping experiences, it has a place among the best. Released almost 10 years before the Glencairn, the glass’s wider, outward-flaring rim combines with a taller glass to cut back on the alcohol burn when nosing your dram. The Vinum whisky glass rides the line between aesthetics and the necessary functions of a tasting glass better than most.

Material: Glass
Size: 2.5 x 4.5 inches
Liquid Capacity: 7 ounces
Number in Set: 2

Buy now on Amazon: US$48

Best brandy glass
Moser Royal brandy glass

Moser, a craft-focused glassmaking company open for more than 150 years, makes more typical whisky glasses, but the style and provenance of its iconic brandy glass is what you want. Moser’s “Royal” brandy glass was born in 1907 when England’s King Edward VII had it made for his wife, Queen Alexandra. The company has been making glass by hand with lead-free crystal since the late 19th century, and its time-tested techniques are evident in the cutting work. The rim of the glass is lined with a thin stripe of 24-karat gold.

As far as drinking out of one goes, it’s not so different than other glasses on this list. It just has more space for swirling and, notably, the cup tapers inward, focusing the smell of the spirit inside. Because of this, it’s most suited for drinking middle- and lower-ABV whiskies, unless you take your whisky with water; otherwise you may get a nose full of ethanol.

Material: Crystal and gold
Size: 6.6 x 11.9 centimetres
Liquid Capacity: 319 mililitres
Number in Set: 1

Buy now on Moser: US$177

Best bourbon glass
Denver & Liely bourbon glass

Australia-based Denver & Liely’s bourbon glass (much like its whisky, gin, and agave glasses) is an upgraded take on a classic design. Like the Glencairn—effectively the standard in whisky glassware bent toward sipping—the foundation is a weighty glass knob that’s just the right size to wrap a few fingers around. Beyond that, this design cuts a different path. The cup is wider and shorter—a bit like the neat glass—which effectively tempers bourbon whiskey’s sweeter, corn-focused flavour. In the hand, an upgrade in glass quality from other sipping-focused glassware is apparent; its shape, lines, and weight have a premium feel. And considering Aussies and American Southerners share brutally hot summers, the fact that the glass is just wide enough for an ice cube or two doesn’t seem like an accident.

Material: Crystal
Size: 8.9 x 8.99 centimetres
Number in Set: 1

Buy now on Denver & Liely: US$45

Best textured whisky glass
Terrane No. 12 glass

Terrane’s barware looks considerably more egalitarian than cups made at the behest of European monarchs, but it’s no less deserving of praise. Made by hand in Spruce Pine, N.C., the glassware is among the very best being made in the U.S. The company’s small team of artisans works periodically on different designs and batches, and the aesthetic ranges from ultra-thin and contemporary to something closer to the newer and more rustic No. 12 glass, a dodecagon made with textured glass in a silhouette that’s at once modern and easy to hold.

Material: Glass
Size: 8.3 x 9.4 centimetres
Liquid Capacity: 319 mililitres
Number in Set: 1

Buy now on Huckberry: US$40

This story was first published on Robb Report USA