Me: ” I smell vanilla and boiled pork. Maybe a little hay and toffee”
Bar Guest with rocks glass: “You’re full of shit”
Me: “No really! Smell it from my glass”
Bar Guest: “Well I’ll be damned! I do smell vanilla!”
When I first introduce unbelievers to glencairn glasses its like a scene from Helen Keller’s The Miracle Worker (if you haven’t seen it, Helen Keller has a breakthrough when she can associate the concept of ‘water’ with the actual vocalization of the word.) When someone who has previously been unable to smell anything besides alcohol finally discovers the hidden aromas locked away in their bourbon, its like they have been introduced to their senses for the first time. We often share a tear together.
Why should you care about how your bourbon smells? Isn’t drinking it the mot important part of the process?
As anyone with a head cold can attest, everything “tastes” different when the sense of smell is impaired. Actually, what is really being affected is the flavor of the food, or the combination of taste and smell. Researchers at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation (yea, really, that exists) have determined that “90 percent of taste is smell. This is easily demonstrated by holding your nose and eating a chocolate bar. The taste of the chocolate will be similar to chalk.”
So if 90% of what you taste actually comes from what you smell, then you should have glassware that accentuates your whiskey’s aroma.
Glencairn glasses are shaped with a wide bowl and a narrow opening making it much easier to swirl your whiskey around. Doing so aerates your bourbon, allowing oxygen to integrate with the bourbon to release its scent – thus making it easier to smell different aromas. The shape of the glencairn concentrates the aromas
The idea of a specific glass for bourbon seems like a no-brainer to me, but I still get
stupid curious looks from friends who aren’t as … committed … as I am with bourbon enthusiasm. All the same, if I have a visitor at my bar or in my home and we’re going to drink some bourbon, I enjoy offering it to them in the best way possible.