What are Single Malt Glasses?

Sheri Cyprus

Single malt glasses are used for drinking single malt Scotch whisky. Scottish single malt whisky is liquor made of fermented malted barley that must be aged at least three years. Unlike regular Scotch whisky, which is made up of whiskies produced by many different distilleries, the single malt type is made by only one distillery. The more single source whisky ages, the more intense flavor it has. Single malt glasses are designed to enhance the rich taste of single malt Scotch whisky and bring out its aroma.

Single malt whiskeys are distilled only once.
Single malt whiskeys are distilled only once.

A single malt glass has a very rounded U-shape with a short stem and a glass foot, or base. The wide bowl or body of the single malt glass allows more of the scent of the liquor to be released. Single malt glasses may be held by their foot or in the palm of the hand like a regular stem-less glass. Regular straight-sided glassware is never used to drink single malt Scotch whisky because the sides limit the fine aroma from rising. Limiting the aroma is desirable when drinking cheap liquor, but not a high quality one such as single malt that is meant to be savored in both smell and taste.

It’s important to note that Scottish single malt whisky is not the type to drink with ice, or on the rocks, because melted ice will cool down the desirable aromas too much. Single malt is traditionally enjoyed with a little water added, but not enough to thin the whisky. Mineral or distilled water may be used.

There are several different types of single malt glasses. A single malt Scotch snifter has narrower top, or neck, and a longer stem than the basic single malt glass. A tumbler style of single malt glass has no stem and a bowl that is wide at the bottom. Wider bowls release the whisky aroma into the air, while narrower necks direct aroma to the drinker. A nosing type of single malt Scotch glass features a glass lid that fits on the top of the neck to control aromas.

A completely transparent glass is desirable when drinking Scottish single malt whisky as it allow s the true color of the beverage to show through. For this reason, good quality single malt glasses are made from fine crystal. Whether a single malt glass is handmade or machine made, it should typically be hand washed.

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