It’s a shape familiar to many a whisky lover – most of whom will have at least one in the kitchen cupboard or drinks cabinet, more than likely with some distillery logo or whisky event branding on it. In fact, in conjunction with the Scotch Whisky Industry, and through Scottish innovation, Glencairn Crystal developed a glass the whisky world could call its own.
First produced in 2001 by Glencairn Crystal in East Kilbride, the distinctive shape of the Glencairn glass has proliferated to the point that you’d be hard pressed to find a distillery or bottler in Scotland that doesn’t utilise it in some way. The curved base of the Glencairn, which narrows at the top, helps concentrate the aromas from the dram, thanks to the tapered mouth and wide bowl that enhance the qualities of Scotch malt whiskies, aged blends, and bourbons, as well as Irish, Canadian, and Japanese whiskies.
Company founder and chairman, Raymond Davidson, designed the glass with the help of master blenders, and based it on the traditional nosing copita used by distilleries. The nosing copita is used both by the Distillery Manager in his duty of nosing “New Make” Scottish spirit and by the Master Blender when nosing mature whiskies that will be used in blended whiskies. The nosing copita was known as the “Dock Glass” in the 17th and 18th centuries as wine and spirit merchants would nose their shipments at the Docks before accepting. The tulip shape bowl allows one to swirl the whisky prior to nosing and the narrow opening facilitates the retention of alcohol vapours. If addition of still water is desired, use water at room temperature. Once the whisky is poured, cover the glass with the watch glass cover and let stand for approximately 5 minutes before nosing.