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Raise your glass!
08-14-2013, 05:22 PM
Post: #1
Raise your glass!
I don't think we have discussed the concept of different glasses for different drinks, have we? I grew up in a family that entertained and so we had quite a few different kinds of glasses. I was always intrigued by them...the tiny liqueur glasses, pilsner glasses, white and red wine glasses, the old-style champagne "cups", etc. I pretty much accepted that they made a difference but latter in life as I began to drink I discovered that they REALLY do make a difference. In particular, when I learned about wine I saw how important glasses were. Most obvious was using a champagne flute instead of those old-fashioned cups or the stylish "trumpet" glasses. In a flute the champagne revealed its subtle bouquet and toasty highlights.

But my experience with Scotch and Bourbon really etched the importance of the proper glass in my mind and onto my palate. Like many, I have realized that the "Glen Cairn" glass properly focuses the aromas of these spirits and I have come to rely on it for consistency in critical tasting. I also use it for casual drinking. Recently, I was at a friend's house and I had brought along a small container of an old favorite Bourbon but he only had those typical "rocks" glasses...straight sides and a quite wide diameter. I was shocked at the lack of aroma and even the taste seemed flat. I was sure it had gone off but didn't say anything. A few days later I finished off the remainder of the container at home in my Glen Cairn glass and was stunned by how it tasted as I previously remembered it: delicious! All the usual notes were there; the nose was fully restored. It hammered home how important the proper glass is to the experience.

What really made me want to post a topic on this was when I recently read the more-or-less-monthly essay by one of my favorite writers. This chap tends to ride his motorcycle around when he is working and is well-know for celebrating the end of the day with his favorite Scotch. Perhaps you know of this fellow?

In his essay he once more mentioned drinking his Scotch from a plastic cup on the porch of his hotel. I was surprised because he clearly is a learned fellow and an aficionado of many things. My hunch is that when home he has a favorite and special glass. When I go backpacking I bring along a real glass Glen Cairn or a clever plastic version that is a bit lighter and less breakable. The weight is of little concern; I sacrifice so as to better enjoy my precious liquid.

To be clear, I admire this fellow and think the world of him; I am not judging him or lobbying him to change his ways...it is his life and his spirit. I do see his glass as half full! I just thought this little tidbit it was the perfect addition to a Thread about how we all see specialty glasses. We all are different and have different approaches to life, love, wine, and song.

So what say you fellow Grillers? Do you use a white wine glass for whites and a red or a balloon glass for the big reds? Do you have specific glasses for your rum, for your whisky, and for your vodka? Or, does any old thing suffice? I am curious so please weigh in with your experiences.

"I don't cook; I prepare things." My late brother Bill
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08-15-2013, 09:55 AM (This post was last modified: 08-15-2013 10:10 AM by Sunset.)
Post: #2
RE: Raise your glass!
Excellent topic...

I'm definitely in the "right tool for the right job" camp. As you say, the classic Glen Cairn is the perfect vessel for single malt whisky and bourbon served neat. You mention it concentrates the nose and I concur. Also, and just as importantly to me, the fluted lip spreads the liquor more widely over the tongue thus contacting all taste buds and delivering the widest possible spectrum of flavor. As a side note, I find the "Canadian" Glen Cairn also suitable for neat(or rocks I suppose) libation consumption. It gives up a little in nose concentration, but delivers robustly in the shear volume category...which I find very useful at times.Big Grin Furthermore, it retains the fluted lip for a broad spectrum flavor experience.

I've found the same applies to my other fav libations as well: Globe style wine glasses with a slightly fluted lip offers the best experience for red wine(also, in the case of red wine stemware I've noticed the thinner the better. Not sure about the technical reason for this, it's just better). Margarita glasses for margaritas(probably mostly because I mix them a little light for most company, but the little reservoir at the bottom of the glass is perfect for an extra shot of agave goodness for me.) A moscow mule is nothing too special, until you mix it in a highly conductive copper mug. Then it becomes 10oz of pure heaven on a hot summer day.




Yep, right tool for the right job says I...

*edit*
I do, however, have one exception to the rule. As you folks have probably gathered, I'm a HUGE fan of moto sport touring, and like others, I really relish a measure or two of single malt after a long day in the saddle. Carrying my personal Glen Cairn simply isn't an option, and finding quality stemware at Ma&Pa's little cottages in the woods is problematic. So, I carry my trusty lil 10oz hip flask complete with 1/2oz shot cap. It's almost 30yrs old and the blackish patina inside surely corrupts the flavor of the whisky. But for some reason, I'm perfectly able to overlook that shortcoming once I climb my bone weary backside off the bike. I suspect I'm not alone in this...

To ask why we cook is to ask why the leaves fall...
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08-15-2013, 10:14 AM
Post: #3
RE: Raise your glass!
Dang, Sunset! You mentioned so many things that I either forgot to mention or left out because my post was already so long! Your point about the Glen Cairn delivering the liquid more widely to the tongue is important. And I do like the Canadian GC also...du riguer for when ice is involved (almost never for me though) or volume is important. But sometimes, especially with high alcohol whisk(e)y, it is good to spread out some of those intense alcohol vapors so the Canadian GC is perfect.

And of course a common thing with all glasses and all liquids is that the sense of smell is actually so much of what we think of as the sense of taste. Ultimately, I think this is why the choice of glass makes a substantial difference.

Thanks for your "most excellent" post!

(Oh, one more story: One time when I was camping with my wine buddy we realized we had forgotten our glass wine glasses so we stopped at a store and got some plastic cups...the wine suffered greatly that trip.)

"I don't cook; I prepare things." My late brother Bill
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08-15-2013, 10:32 AM
Post: #4
RE: Raise your glass!
Great point re the Canadian GC's ability to mellow the ETOH vapor nose hit often accompanying cask strength whiskys. You haven't lived until you've had the top of your head blown off by a cranium full of high abv lol.

Wine stories...oh my lol!

I was set straight on proper stemware a couple decades back by a good friend we had over for dinner. After the meal she shook her head sadly and fixed me with that "poor child, you know not what you do" look. 3 days later a set of four proper red wine glasses arrived by UPS. Bless that sweet woman.Heart

To ask why we cook is to ask why the leaves fall...
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08-15-2013, 11:15 AM
Post: #5
RE: Raise your glass!
I can tell you this. Those OTR glasses are for picnics, not the more sophisticated palate, IMHO. Honestly, if you are gilling outside, or just having a snort before bedtime thats one thing, but if you really want to "relish" the whole experience, those Glen Cairn glasses, or the stemmed versions, are about the only way to truly experience a good single malt or bourbon. I never really realized this until I got my first bottle of Balvenie 15 yr, and a coworker asked if I had a Glen Cairn glass. I think her jaw wanted to reach out and slap the stupid out of me when I said no. At one time I had about ten of them around, but gave a few to a couple friends of mine who are also whiskyheads. Now - I dont even look at a bottle of anything without making sure my Glen Cairn glasses are in full view. Its just not something I would even consider. I think I tend to enjoy the aromas and the experience as much as I do the tasting, and consumption thereof.

Good idea Nung!!!

Primary Principle - "It must NEVER be my fault"
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08-15-2013, 01:39 PM
Post: #6
RE: Raise your glass!
I always pack my Pantarlier for my absinthe, as well as my Glen Cairn glass(until l broke it recently). Definitely , the right glass for the right drink is a must.

I'm taking a ride with my best friend...I hope he never lets me down again.
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08-15-2013, 08:04 PM
Post: #7
RE: Raise your glass!
I have to say that I am NOT the whiskey partaker in our household. Boomer and those who quoted above are indeed correct the glass make a very big difference. Inhaling the aromas of the Cast Strength and other years of Macallan are so much more to the nose. We are one of those lucky friends that Boomer shared a set of glasses with. So Fireman always toasts to Boomer when he does imbibe a wee glass.

"... always throw spilt salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck, and fall in love whenever you can..." Practical Magic
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08-16-2013, 10:18 AM (This post was last modified: 08-16-2013 10:21 AM by Nung.)
Post: #8
RE: Raise your glass!
Thanks for the great feedback, kids!

And how about covers on your GC glasses? I have 4 glass covers ("watch glass covers") that I sometimes use when testing multiple samples with friends. They keep the aromas in the glass until one is ready. I also purchased two GC glasses with proper, fitted covers as well. When I sit outside in the evening I often have two glasses of small amounts of different whiskys. The cover keeps the second sample "contained" until I am ready. (It also keeps gnats out too! Those darn things seem to like my choice in spirits!)

(Oh, the plastic glass I referred to in my first post is the GSI Stemless wineglass, available from REI. While it is not quite a GC shape it does narrow somewhat towards the top. If anyone knows of a true GC shape in plastic please let me know.)

"I don't cook; I prepare things." My late brother Bill
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08-16-2013, 01:05 PM
Post: #9
RE: Raise your glass!
VERY insightful thread! But I can't help myself....
Can I dumb down this convo about 2112 IQ points for just a mo'...?

Proceed to paarrrtaaaayy!

Big GrinBig Grin

**AHEM** carry on... Tongue

Blah blah blah....yada yada yada!
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08-16-2013, 02:50 PM
Post: #10
RE: Raise your glass!
Decisions, decisions...

1. Bounce a wheelie off his head
2. Roost him into next week
3. Start the prep on mutton dinner
4. Turn around and find some GC covers to obviate the pesky gnats.Big Grin

To ask why we cook is to ask why the leaves fall...
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