Tasting Glasses Part I – Standards

I’ve spent the last weekend with a few rum buddies at Johannes’ place, where we decided to compare the nosing qualities of a few tasting glasses (besides tasting plenty of rum, of course). The session was split in two parts of four glasses each. The reason to limit it to four glasses is simple: While there are dozens of different glasses out there, most of them are rather similar in shape, noseability etc and differ mostly in volume and quality, especially with the ‘standard’ glasses. Also, the fewer we compare, the easier it is to detect the differences.

We decided to use the Our Rum & Spirits Guyana 2003 12YO as the testing rum since it is a product that all testers were familiar with and that has many different facets to its nose, ranging from sweeter, honey like elements to fruits, spices and woody, even slightly tannic notes. As far as typical dry and not extremely fruity rums are concerned, the only thing we are really missing here are herbals aromas. The quantity has been adjusted individually for every glass, depending on how much rum was needed to moisten the nosing surface of the respective tasting glass. We did not use aroma lids.
A crucial omission here is the standard Bugatti glass which is also very popular. Similarly, the Stölzle is just one of the possible Copitas we could have used. Prominent alternatives are the Eisch Jeunesse and the Spiegelau Snifter. I’ll add a note in the verdict.


8Stölzle Copita: I think it is safe to say that this is the standard tasting glass for many rum connoisseurs and as our test shows, rightly so! It has a nice feeling in the hand and provides very balanced and harmonious nosing results. Nothing is really dominant and nothing is really missing either compared to the other glasses. As a main feature I’d say that it emphasises the background notes (e.g. cask aromas), relatively speaking. All in all, the quality and workmanship of the glass is very good.

7Glencairn: No surprise, it is very similar to the standard Copita glass. The similarity in the glass’ shape suggested this already. However, I am really missing the shaft here but that’s a matter of personal preference, of course. The crucial difference lies in the warming that your hands provide. Again, I am not a fan of this but many people seem to disagree. Compared to the Copita, the alcohol is a bit more present but we couldn’t detect any further differences in the nose.

9Rastal Harmony: This glass is very popular in catering and gastronomy and provided at several spirits fairs. Its shape is very similar to the popular beer tasting glasses by the way. It emphasises alcoholic, fruit schnapps and woody notes but basically none of the ones we really want to nose. All in all, it provides the most ‘sealed’ and incommunicative nosing experience of all tested glasses. I love the beer version of the glass but really hate this one.

6Grappa Glass: We weren’t really sure in which group to include this but given the shape we’ve settled on this one (hence the omission of the Bugatti or Eisch Jeunesse for example). The major advantage of the glass is that it suitable for small quantities, compared to the Copita for example. As far as nosing is concerned, it provides the least alcoholic experience and emphasises the sweet and fruity notes, at the expense of the heavier cask aromas. All in all, it teases out different nuances that we’ve failed to detect in any of the other glasses.


Verdict

The results are pretty much as expected: The (Stölzle) Copita is the perfect “every-day” tasting glass. It provides a nice balance of all aromas with a few small shortcomings compared to the high-end tasting glasses (next review). The Glencairn is very similar but the plus in alcoholic scents mean that it just cannot be put on the same level as the Copita. The Grappa Glass is extremely interesting as it provides a different nosing experience from all other tested glasses, including the ones from the second session. While it is nice to use it for a change to discover new notes in a familiar rum, it shouldn’t be used as the only tasting glass, however. The Rastal Harmony cannot be recommended due to its poor overall results. Finally, the Bugatti tasting glass provides similar results to the Copita and Glencairn but cannot quite keep up in terms of quality, noseability and workmanship. I often use it if I don’t want to drink an entire dram as I see it on the same level as the Copita for quantities of ~1cl or less.

Recommended alternatives for the Stölzle Copita are the Eisch Jeunesse and the Spiegelau Snifter. They differ in quality and workmanship but don’t really in noseability. Personally, I usually prefer the Stölzle for quantities of 1,5-2cl, the Eisch for smaller and the Spiegelau for larger quantities than that.

Part II with more unconventional glasses can be found here.

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