Award-Giving Glasses

These Dirt Cheap Whiskey Glasses Helped Determine the World’s Best Bourbon

April 13, 2020 Home By Photo by Chandler Bondurant
Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Lurking in the background of the spirit world’s single biggest event is a honey pot-shaped glass you can buy on Amazon for $23 (set of two).

It is the only glass used in official judging for the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a competition whose results often determine what spirits will be hard to come by for the year to come. It’s nothing like a traditional whiskey snifter.

Called the Neat Glass, it’s a short, fat cup was designed under a singular premise: smell is everything. The Neat Glass site spells it out plainly: “Humans detect over 10,000 aromas but only five tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami). You don’t taste raspberries, you smell raspberries and taste sweet. Add mouth feel (oily, dry, temperature, texture, minty, hot) to get total flavor. Flavor = Aroma + Taste + Mouth Feel. Flavor is 90% aroma.”

The Neat Glass runs opposite the traditional Glencairn, where a narrow top opening flushes the nose of a whiskey more directly to you; the Neat Glass, on the other hand, uses an outward-flaring rim. This is to fight off ethanol, the enemy of accurate spirit analysis, which numbs the nose and shrouds aromas; it’s why blenders, distillers and spirits competition judges water their whiskey down before drinking. And it’s the reason the glass looks like a cocktail glass ran into a Belgian beer glass.

The pitch goes like this: the wide bowl allows more surface area for swirling the juice, which agitates the liquid and forces it to evaporate from the glass, and the wide rim allows for ethanol diffusion, thereby creating a clearer nose and — if you buy the aroma-over-everything premise — a clearer idea of what you’re drinking.

Is it all talk? You be the judge.

The 17 Best Bourbon Whiskeys You Can Buy in 2019

Everything you ever wanted to know about America’s favorite brown spirit, including, of course, the best bottles you can actually buy. Read the Story

Will Price

Will Price is Gear Patrol's home and drinks editor. He's from Atlanta and lives in Brooklyn. He's interested in bourbon, houseplants, cheap Japanese pens, and cast-iron skillets — maybe a little too much.

More by Will Price | Follow on Contact via Email
Start Your Week
with Daybreak
Productivity hacks, coffee recommendations, workweek style inspiration and more.

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy and to receive email correspondence from us.