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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.


Woodford Reserve Series No. 1: Bourbon Al Pastor Tacos

wWw & Woodford Reserve

Women Who Whiskey has introduced it's members to a variety of Woodford Reserve's whiskey expressions. Woodford's collection includes Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Double Oaked Bourbon, Rye, & a yearly Master's Collection. Today I will be showcasing recipes featuring their Bourbon & Rye.


Bourbon Al Pastor Tacos

Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon is crafted in small batches, which allows them to develop distinct rich flavors of toffee, tobacco, & citrus as well as a silky, smooth, & creamy finish. I am featuring it today in a revamped version of a classic Al Pastor recipe. I recommend serving this dish with homemade tortillas, Spanish rice,  & Frijoles Borrachos.


  • Two 3 lb. Pork Loins, cubed
  • Two 20 oz. cans of Pineapple Chunks
  • 16 oz. Pineapple Juice
  •  ½ c. Orange Juice
  •  ½ c. White Vinegar
  •  ¼ c. Chili Powder
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • 4 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 2 tsp. dried Oregano Leaves
  • 2 tsp. ground Cumin
  • 2 Chipotle Peppers (canned in Adobo sauce), minced
  • 2 Sazon con Achiote seasoning packets
  • ½ c. Woodford Reserve Bourbon
  • 1 bunch of Cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • Olive Oil


1. Combine all the above ingredients except the cilantro, brown sugar, & olive oil. Marinate overnight in a large Ziplock bag or storage container.

2. About an hour before you are ready to serve the pork, pull the cubed pork loin from the marinade and set aside in refrigerator. Pour the marinade in a food processor or blender.

3. Add 1 cup of Cilantro to the marinade, blend until smooth.

4. Pour the marinade in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the Brown Sugar, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, simmering ~40 minutes. The sauce should be the consistency of ketchup. Remember as the sauce cools, it will become a little thicker, so do not overcook. Cover and remove from heat. Serve as a sauce with the cooked pork.

5. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add ~1 tsp. of Olive Oil to the skillet & sauté the cubed pork in small batches. Add ~1 tsp. of Olive Oil per batch of pork.

Great accompaniments for the Al Pastor Tacos are pickled red onion, pickled or fresh jalapeños, Cotija cheese, cilantro, sour cream, lime wedges.

Woodford Reserve Series No. 2: Bourbon Beans (Frijoles Borrachos)

Bourbon Beans

A tasty new take on the traditional Frijoles Borrachos, this recipe features Woodford Reserve Bourbon, spicy chorizo, & smoked ham hocks. Serve alongside Arroz Rojo & Al Pastor Tacos.


  • 16 oz. Dry Pinto Beans, soak overnight
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Onion, quartered
  • 2 Carrots, coarse chop
  • 2 Celery Ribs, coarse chop
  • 1 Jalapeño, remove stem
  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 lb. uncooked Chorizo, remove from casing
  • 4 oz. can Mild Green Chilies, chopped
  • 14 oz. can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. Sofrito
  • 1/4 c. Recaito
  • 1 packet Sazón con Achiote (optional)
  • 3 c. Pork Stock
  • 3 c. Water
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Smoked Ham Hocks
  • ½ c. Woodford Reserve Bourbon


1. Soak the beans overnight in water; sort the beans, discarding any that did not plump up.

2. In a food processor or blender, pulse the Onion, Carrot, Celery, & Jalapeño until minced.

3. Heat Olive Oil in a 6-8 quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the uncased Chorizo, sauté for ~3 minutes, then add the pulsed vegetable mix. Continue to sauté until the onions become translucent and vegetables are fragrant, ~5 minutes.

4. Add the chopped Green Chilies & Diced Tomatoes, continue to sauté ~2 minutes.

5. Add the Sofrito, Recaito, & packet of Sazón, stir until the ingredients are well mixed, and continue to sauté for ~2 minutes.

6. Add the soaked Beans, Pork Stock, Water, Bay Leaves, & Ham Hocks.

7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, cook for 1-½ hours.

8. Take out 1 cup of the cooked beans, mash them then add them back to the stockpot along with Woodford Reserve Bourbon. Mix well and continue to cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

9. Taste for final seasoning, adjust for taste, and serve!