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The Glencairn Whisky Glass

Since production began in 2001, The Glencairn Glass has become the standard whisky-drinking glass to be used at distilleries, competitions and better-informed bars around the world. On its box, you can read how the glass tapers to provide an ‘ease of drinking not associated with traditional nosing glasses’, whilst still capturing ‘that all-important bouquet’ and allowing ‘the fullest appreciation of the whisky’s colour’. This is all true. The glass also looks alright and is of a satisfying weight. The lead-free crystal can survive in a crowded washing-up bowl but is still unobtrusively thin, increasing your sensitivity to the spirit’s temperature. The form and size of the bowl ensures a decent measure of whisky looks just right (when its level meets the curve’s apex) but, more importantly, it makes a generous measure look generous and an ungenerous measure look unforgivably measly. The shape of the glass encourages drinkers to develop a variety of grips; through familiarity with the glass one might develop a ‘colour-checking grip’, a ‘nosing grip’ or a flamboyant ‘last sip grip’ that’s unique to them.

Unusually for most (kitchen-based) functional objects, The Glencairn Glass has the enhancement of sensory pleasure as one of its foremost functions. The best tools, like a well-designed knife, can perform their basic tasks so well that they come to redefine what that task is, by gifting some pleasure in addition to the required practical result. Such tools become treasured by their users, who might feel as if they have discovered an unintended, magical happenstance of an object’s design.

For the designers of The Glencairn Glass, however, pleasure-in-use could not be a subsidiary concern. No one drinks whisky from a special little glass out of necessity. Be it a late night private dram or a public toast, the drinking of good whisky is nearly always a ceremonial activity. And, because every element of The Glencairn has been developed with consideration for how it can enhance such pleasures, even with its relatively unceremonious, utilitarian appearance, it’s the perfect tool for the job.

Materials: lead-free crystal

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