You may think that drinking your neat bourbons exclusively from glencairns are pretentious. You may believe that the type of glass that you use to drink your whiskey is irrelevant. You may think we here at Bourbon of the Day only sing the praises of the Glencairn because we sell them.

You would be wrong on all three counts.

Have you ever done a side by side tasting of the same bourbon from two different whiskey glasses? We have, and heres what we found:

The differences between the glassware that a bourbon is served in are the differences between night and day. Sure, you can drink your Rock Hill Farms out of a plastic cup like a college kid. You can even defer to the standard issue hillbilly mason jar. But when it comes to truly tasting your bourbon like you have some civility, nothing compares to a glencairn.

Everyone else in the wine and spirit world knows the importance of using proper glasses. Its time we bourbon fanatics stepped our game up.Here are three reasons why you would be crazy not to have one of your own.


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.


The creators of the Glencairn originally crafted the glasses for Scotch – bourbon’s Scottish cousin – but the glasses work beautifully for any member of the whiskey family. Check out the video they have put together to see what we mean:


I’m not one to get all high and mighty on you. You can drink your bourbon out of a washed out grape jelly jar if that’s all you got. But for the lady or gentleman that knows how to enjoy a good whiskey properly, nothing serves as a better mark of distinction than proper glassware….besides maybe a top hat and a monocle.

Demanding a glencairn glass from your bartender or host is a giveaway that you know how to get the most out of your bourbon (and if they don’t have any, report them in the comments section below so we can shame them into buying some). When others see you with a glencairn, they know that you are “about that life” as the kids say.

So for the bourbon drinker looking to get the most out of their tasting experience, the Glencairn is the way to go.

I will leave you all with the following review from my man Neil Cake:

The important considerations though are:

Is there any improvement in terms of nosing my whisky?

Does it make the whisky taste any better?

I’m not going to keep you waiting here; the answer to both of those questions is a resounding yes. Seriously. They are not making this shit up.

If you don’t believe anything I have written above, try one for yourself. Click the image below to buy Glencairn glasses via Amazon. You can thank me later!