Does Glassware Make a Difference…? (Yes!)

I will admit, when the Portland Women Who Whiskey Chapter President suggested that we do a whiskey tasting comparing glassware for the blog, I was skeptical. I had always chosen my whiskey sipping vessels purely on aesthetics (or honestly, sometimes whatever I grabbed first out of the cupboard).

I also didn’t trust my palate or nose to be attuned enough to notice any differences. Thankfully, I was completely wrong, and this little experiment was really interesting and eye opening.

We tested five different glassware designs and used Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye at 90.4 proof. We also recruited some gentleman to taste with us in order to have a more varied experimental test group. We did a couple of rounds, both on an empty stomach and after eating a bunch of pizza to make sure nothing significantly changed our opinions (pro-tip, taste first then gorge on pizza if you want to experience the most nuance).

 From L to R: Rocks, Norlan, Cut Crystal Snifter, Glencairn, Schott Zwiesel Pure Double Old Fashioned Rocks Glass

From L to R: Rocks, Norlan, Cut Crystal Snifter, Glencairn, Schott Zwiesel Pure Double Old Fashioned Rocks Glass

First, we used a plain old rocks glass. The kind you get handed at most bars. Unfortunately, most bars are doing it wrong. This was everyone’s least favorite. We couldn’t sense much of an aroma from the whiskey at all, just the alcohol. It also provided the most tasteless sips. We also used a higher end rocks glass, a Schott Zwiesel Pure Double Old Fashioned Rocks Glass, which diffused the aroma a bit more, but ultimately also fell flat.

Next, we tried the Norlan Whisky Glass. We had high expectations for this one since it claims to be scientifically designed to enhance the whisky experience. It’s basically a super lightweight rocks glass with a tulip shape inside the thin double glass walls. Unfortunately, no one enjoyed using these glasses or noticed any particular difference in the aroma or flavor of the rye. They are super lightweight, and it feels like you are going to crush them. Also, the awkward shape makes them unpleasant to hold in your hand. No one in the group recommended this glass.

On to the Glencairn! These short stemmed tulip shaped glasses, made from Glencairn crystal, are what you will most commonly find at high end distilleries for tasting. And with good reason! We all noticed a significant difference in the aromas in the rye using this glass. It smelled much mellower, and the alcohol smell had faded away significantly. Not surprisingly, it also tasted better. We could pick up a lot more of the flavor notes like tobacco and a sweeter fruity flavor. This glass we decided provided the best flavor experience, even though it wasn’t our number one winner. The thing we didn’t like was how far back you had to tip your head to drink. You had to lose eye contact and nearly strain your neck. It’s a great glass for purely tasting, but not so much for social sipping.

Onward to the Cut Crystal Snifter! This was our winner! We love the hand feel and heft of the cut crystal. The rye tasted very smooth and sweet, and the aroma remained as complex as it did in the Glencairn. It almost seemed like the scent and flavor blended more seamlessly with this glass. We could pick up the honey and almond notes in the rye, as well as the zip of pepper on the back. This is the glass I want to sip my whiskey with all the time.

 Arome tasting glass

Arome tasting glass

Our last glass was an Arome tasting glass . This glass was our second favorite. It mimicked the great dispersal of the rye’s aroma and flavor complexity that we found with the cut crystal snifter, however the hand feel just wasn’t as pleasant. It’s a bit of a strange shape to hold in your hand, and much more lightweight. We could all sense the way the shape of the glass holds the aroma and sort of flows it over your nose as the whiskey hits your tongue. This shape for tasting blows the “scientific” Norlan out of the water.

 Post pizza, with a cat helper.

Post pizza, with a cat helper.

We were definitely focusing on what we’d like to have in our hand in a casual whiskey sipping setting and concentrated on all the elements of the experience, not just the actual flavors and aromas of the whiskey. So take all of this with a grain of salt (or a slice of pizza!). Ultimately, I would recommend doing your own glassware comparison and finding out what your favorite is.


Review | Jameson’s Whiskey Makers Series: Cooper’s Croze and Blender’s Dog

I was recently lucky enough to receive samples of two new releases (the two available in the U.S. so far) from Jameson’s Whiskey Makers Series, so I could have a nip and spread the word to you all!

First a bit of background. Both of these whiskeys are named after the important craftspeople and their tools that are essential to the process of creating whiskey.

 Sample cuties

Sample cuties

Cooper’s Croze

The Cooper is the craftsperson who creates the barrels that age the whiskey. The Croze is the essential tool that creates the groove that allows the head of the cask to be positioned. Jameson’s Cooper’s Croze honors their Head Cooper, Ger Buckley.

Blender’s Dog

The Blender, of course, if the craftsperson who combines whiskeys to make the flavors unique, complimentary and delicious. The Dog (also called the Whiskey thief) is the tool used to sample whiskey straight from the cask while working to create the best combinations. Jameson’s Blender's Dog honors their Head Blender, Billy Leighton.


How do they taste?!

I found both the whiskeys to be very unique from each other. The Cooper’s Croze was smoother than the Jameson Original I am used to. It has mild, honey like sweetness on the front that I really enjoyed. This is a great whiskey for sipping neat, perhaps paired with some fruit or sweeter cheeses after dinner.

The Blenders Dog was a much more tenacious whiskey. Less sweet on the front with more of the charred oak coming through. This whiskey was spicy with what tasted almost like undertones of peat from the tannins. I felt like I’d want to be sipping it along side a rare steak.

Both of these bottles are now available in U.S., retailing for around $80 a fifth. Perfect for sharing over the holidays!

Dank Derby Mule

For some background, I recently relocated to the beautiful state of Oregon, where marijuana just happens to be legal. As an avid woman who whiskeys, but hasn’t dabbled much in the devil weed, I had an idea (granted, I am certainly not the first). Combine them! In a gentle way, that my rookie cannabis user status could handle. Adding some homemade marijuana tincture to a bourbon cocktail felt like the perfect start. Here’s what I came up with.

 The tools and ingredients.

The tools and ingredients.

Dank Derby Mule

1.5 oz Makers Mark Bourbon (any mid-grade bourbon will work)

*1 ml of Marijuana tincture (recipes vary), follow link to the Everclear version I used

3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Juice of half a lime

Strong ginger beer (non-alcoholic, I used Reed’s)

Shake first four ingredients with a few ice cubes. Pour over a glass of crushed ice, and top with the ginger beer. Garnish with leaves if you’ve got em!

*those with stronger constitutions can add more tincture


 Garnish may be hard to find...   

Garnish may be hard to find...


This cocktail definitely falls under the category of earthy and herbal. And these flavors increase as you add more tincture. The lime and ginger beer come through with a nice spicy, sparkle on the front and then the ginger sort of melds with the peppery flavor of the weed on the back. My only complaint would be that the bourbon gets a little lost among all the other flavors that are happening.

The effects of the tincture start after about 20 minutes, and it’s far more gentle, almost warmish feeling of well-being that matches well with the buzz from the bourbon. It’s more subtle than smoking by far.

I think this makes a great pre-dinner cocktail, as it helps get your appetite revved up…and for some reason all the food tastes better.

An Intimate Evening with Far North Spirits

Early this Spring, a select group of wWw ladies gathered at Grand Ferry Tavern in Brooklyn, NY for the opportunity to sample different expressions of the single estate whiskey Roknar Rye from Far North Spirits. The ladies were able to share personal stories about their love of whiskey, their reasons for joining wWw, as well as learn about the unique history of Far North Spirits while meeting the distiller, Michael Swanson, who is also the farmer who grows the grains used to make this flavorful spirit.

Far North Spirits is a field-to-glass craft distillery in northwestern Minnesota. Michael’s great grandpa Gustaf and his wife Anna Christine arrived in Minnesota from Sweden building a farm on the fertile soil. They now produce small-batch spirits using the grains grown on their family farm. Michael’s wife, Cheri, led us through a tasting of 3 expressions of Roknar Rye. Her love for their 100-year-old family farm, the quality of the product they have produced, and their ability to share it with us was very apparent as she became emotional telling us the beautiful history of the distillery.

Here are the 3 expressions we tasted that night:

  • Expression 1

Batch 1/ 95 Proof- filled December 2014; bottled November 2015, 23 barrels, 230 cases

Mash bill: 80% AC Hazlet Winter Rye, 10% heirloom & organic corn (non-GMO varieties), 10% malt barley

Aged 10 months in new, 10-gallon charred oak barrels from The Barrel Mill in Avon, Minnesota; char 3 on the barrel

Finished 6 weeks in Oloroso Sherry (50%) and Cognac (50%) casks

  • Expression 2

Batch R/ 91 Proof- filled June 2014; bottled February 2016, single barrel, 20 cases (only available in NY, CA and MN)

Mash bill: 80% AC Hazlet Winter Rye, 10% heirloom & organic corn (non-GMO varieties), 10% malt barley

Aged 18 months in a new 23-gallon toasted and charred oak barrel from Black Swan in Park Rapids, MN; char 3

Finished briefly in Oloroso Sherry and Cognac casks (entire barrel in each cask for equal amount of time)

  • Expression 3

Batch 2/ 94 Proof- filled May 2015; bottled May 10-13, 2016, 36 barrels, approx 350 cases 

Mash bill: 80% AC Hazlet Winter Rye, 10% heirloom & organic corn (non-GMO varieties), 10% malt barley

Aged 11 months in new, 10-gallon charred oak barrels from The Barrel Mill; char 3 on the barrel

Finished 4 weeks in Cognac (60%) and Oloroso Sherry (40%) casks

My personal favorite was Batch R. The color is a rich amber. The nose is sweet & delicate with hints of toffee, caramel, & spice. The taste is youthful but balanced with sweet notes to start and a peppery spicy finish that is not at all harsh or overwhelming.

Upon leaving Grand Ferry Tavern there was a noticeable buzz in the air with a number of our ladies conceding that this was their favorite wWw event thusfar. You will not go wrong with any expression of Far North Spirits’ Roknar Rye. Below I have listed a few NY bars that feature Roknar Rye. For a full list of locations please visit their website.

Roknar Brand Assets.jpg

 Agern Restaurant- NY, NY

Blue Smoke-Flatiron- NY, NY

Grand Ferry Tavern- Brooklyn, NY

Flight West- Rochester, NY

Henry’s Restaurant- NY, NY

Le Bernardin- NY, NY

Maiden Lane- NY, NY

Post Office- Brooklyn, NY

Reynards-Wythe Hotel- Brooklyn, NY

Romans- Brooklyn, NY

Terra Blues- NY, NY

Woodhull Winebar-Brooklyn, NY