You’ll notice a small change in the leader column this issue: the picture next to it is not of The Walrus of Whisky, Charles MacLean, though he continues in his capacity as Editor-at-Large.I’ve just organised a whisky tasting in three continents. For all three events we ended up using wine glasses. Why? Still no definitive glass has been devised for its nosing and, perhaps more surprisingly, consumption. Whereas Pip Hills is accurate in his assertion in Appreciating Whisky that the copita “works well, and I think we can conclude that it is best suited to the job” he is referring to the use of the glass for professional purposes. We’ll ignore the problems faced by those tasters with unfeasibly large hooters and the fact that,although the tulip shape concentrates the nose, flavours for some of the heavier whiskies like bourbon or powerful Irish become overpowering. But what about glasses for less formal enjoyment and appreciation?With a few notable exceptions, if you are in a pub, bar, club or restaurant and you order a whisky it appears in an unsuitable tumbler. Ask for it in a sherry copita and you brand yourself a pompous snob. There is controversy over the best vessel to use to appreciate your dram. Charlie MacLean states in Malt Whisky: “The right size and shape of a glass is vital and makes a huge difference to one’s ability to nose effectively.” Tumblers were designed for whisky and soda for which they are ideal. The majority of Whisky Magazine readers do not drown their malts in soda.Some of the more obsessive readers I know have a repertoire of glassware that they use for different styles of whisky: balloons for bourbon, Swedish Smak glasses for heavier Irish and Scotch whiskies and so on.The situation is being addressed at different levels: at the top end is The Single Malt Glass Limited Edition from the NovaScotian Crystal Company: exquisite, lavishly packaged, heavy in the hand but perhaps over-designed in having a circular pattern cut into the crystal. In addition, the flared lip obfuscates the nose. At close to £100 a pair with only 1,000 available it won’t change the whisky-drinking world. The Single Malt Glass from Reidel tends to divide opinion. Those who doubt the difference that a glass can make must try to attend a Georg Reidel tutored tasting. As a Reidel evangelist I have seen how the right glass makes all the difference. The Reidel is a well-priced (approximately £11 each), aesthetically pleasing item of stemware.I am excited by the imminent arrival of The Blender’s Malt Glass by The Glencairn Crystal Company. Raymond Davidson has for many years supplied the industry with decanters and glassware. However, his vision is that every time someone orders a whisky in a pub, bar or club it will be served in the glass he has recently developed. He took the idea to a team of the most highly respected master blenders: Richard Paterson (JBB), Robert Hicks (Allied Distillers), Robert McIlroy (UDV), John Ramsay (Highland Distillers) and David Stewart (Wm Grant & Sons). Campbell Evans of the Scotch Whisky Association and Michael Jackson were also involved in the creation of a prototype. The glass is masculine, heavy in the hand and in an impromptu tasting at my desk it delivered the best nose, outperforming the Reidel, GlenScotia and a small copita glass. The time may finally have come when whisky has its own glass – two and a half years after it first had its own magazine. Everyone attending Whisky Magazine Live will have an opportunity to put The Blender’s Malt Glass through its paces.As with all conjecture on whisky, subjectivity is key. It’s a matter of taste.
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