Which Glass Should You Drink Your Bourbon With?

The art of bourbon enjoyment is not just in its rich, amber liquid but also in the vessel from which it is sipped.
Published on Thursday, 9 November 2023
By Drew


Which Glass Should You Drink Your Bourbon With?


The art of bourbon enjoyment is not just in its rich, amber liquid but also in the vessel from which it is sipped. The right glass can elevate the humble act of drinking bourbon into a full sensory experience, engaging the nose, palate, and even the touch. This guide delves into the world of bourbon glasses, offering a glimpse into how the right choice can enhance your whiskey aroma and flavour profile.

The Science of Taste and Aroma

The shape of a glass plays a pivotal role in the tasting experience. A well-designed glass can concentrate and direct the bourbon's vapours, enhancing the olfactory experience and, consequently, the taste. The interaction between nose and palate is a dance of complexity, where the nuances of each bourbon are revealed.

Types of Bourbon Glasses

  • Shot Glass: The Basic Approach A shot glass offers simplicity but often at the expense of sensory depth. Its straight sides fail to capture the whiskey's aroma, leading to a more muted taste experience.

  • Rocks Glass: For the Cocktail Enthusiasts The wide brim and sturdy base of the rocks glass make it ideal for cocktails or bourbon on the rocks, allowing the aroma to waft but not concentrate, providing a balanced nose.

  • Wine Glass: An Elegant Alternative The curved bowl of a wine glass gently directs the aroma towards the nose, enhancing the subtleties of the bourbon and offering a softer palate experience.

  • Glencairn Glass: The Connoisseur's Choice The tulip shape of the Glencairn glass is designed to offer a robust nosing experience, with a narrowed rim that delivers the whiskey's aroma and flavour directly to the senses.

  • NEAT Glass: The Unique Experience The NEAT glass, with its unconventional shape, is designed to dissipate alcohol fumes and emphasize the bourbon's aroma, though its wide rim can make the tasting experience less focused.

Comparative Analysis

A side-by-side tasting in these glasses reveals that each shape offers a distinct experience. The Glencairn glass often comes out on top for its ability to concentrate aroma and flavour, enhancing the bourbon tasting journey.

The Master Distiller's Perspective

Bourbon producers often recommend glassware that complements their spirit's profile. The Glencairn glass is frequently suggested for its ability to showcase the complexity of bourbon.

The Role of Glassware in Bourbon Culture

Glassware is more than a tool; it's a statement. The choice of glass can reflect personal style, tradition, and even the influence of media.

Practical Tips for Bourbon Enthusiasts

Selecting the right glass depends on the occasion. Whether it's a neat pour or a cocktail, the glass should enhance the experience. Proper care and maintenance of your glassware are also crucial for preserving the integrity of your bourbon.

FAQs: People Also Ask

  • What is the best glass for drinking bourbon neat? The Glencairn glass is often preferred for its enhancement of the bourbon's aroma and flavour profile.

  • Does the thickness of the glass affect the taste of bourbon? Yes, a thicker glass can retain temperature longer, potentially affecting the tasting experience.

  • Is it better to drink bourbon from a stemmed or stemless glass? A stemmed glass can prevent hand warmth from affecting the bourbon's temperature, offering a purer taste.


The journey of selecting the perfect bourbon glass is personal and subjective. While the Glencairn glass is a favourite among many, the best way to discover your preference is through personal experimentation. Embrace the diversity of glassware and find your perfect match to enhance your bourbon experience.

For more insights, explore a comprehensive glassware guide, discover expert tasting tools, or learn professional tasting techniques. Join the conversation on bourbon culture and gain master distiller insights. Discuss community opinions on glassware, try new bourbon cocktail recipes, and learn about maintaining your bourbon glassware. Lastly, don't forget to check out reviews on bourbon glasses to make an informed decision.