The first time I experienced the Glencairn mixing glass was about five years ago. I was having a drink with Fred Minnick at the local tavern near his home. He asked me if I tried the new Canadian whisky glass from Glencairn. I had not so he had the Bourbons we ordered served in this new glassware. It was a decent glass for drinking whiskey and I was surprised as to how well the glass enhanced the aromas of the Bourbon. A few months later, Marty Duffy sent me a personalized pair of the glasses. Since that time, Glencairn rebranded the glasses as “mixing glasses”.
The glass is a bulbous glass with a funnel shape top that helps focus the aromas of the whiskey, similar to the Glencairn whisky glass. The rim of the glass does flute outward slightly, but not obscenely so and does not cause dribbles like some of the similar type glasses from other companies. The bowl of the glass is fairly large, creating a lot of surface area for the whiskey and the mouth of the glass is large enough to easily add ice cubes or use for a cocktail.
I thought I would compare this glass with a normal Glencairn whisky glass. For this comparison I used Yellowstone Select single barrel Bourbon, a private selection barrel from Westport Whiskey & Wine. The Bourbon is 93 proof and four years old.
Using my favorite Glencairn whisky glass to start the comparison, I found the nose of the whiskey had a lot of rich caramel, a little tobacco herbality, a hint of allspice and some oak wood. The taste had a great mouthfeel with caramel, allspice and oak. The finish was long with sweet oak flavors and a hint of spice. I like this glass not only for its ability to concentrate the aromas of the whiskey, but also for its durability. I have had very few of these glasses break in the almost 20 years I have been using them, and when they have broken it was always because they were dropped on a concrete surface.
Pouring the same amount of Bourbon in the Glenncairn mixing glass was my next step. The nose was more subtle and there was less caramel and more spice notes. The taste and the finish did not change with the glassware, but I did not expect it to do so.
Finally, I dropped three ice cubes into the glass. Cold usually lessens the aroma of whiskey and was curious as to how the glass would fare with ice in the whiskey. To my surprise the caramel aroma was stronger on the nose and the spice was still there. I suspect that this will also enhance the aromas of cocktails as well as straight whiskey over ice.
My conclusion is that the glass is a very good glass for people who like ice in their Bourbon. For serious evaluation of a Bourbon or rye, I will continue to use my favorite Glencairn whisky glasses. However, for casual drinking with friends, I will start using the Glencairn mixing glasses. I am hopeful that this glass will be as durable as their whisky tasting glass. I need to get some more of these glasses to use as cocktail glasses.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller