Head-to-Head Battle: The Whiskey Grail v. The Glencairn Nosing Glass


Since I first got into whiskey, I’ve been curious about glassware. If you’re going to roll your eyes and say The glass doesn’t matter, well, you’re wrong. I’ve done several experiments and written about them enough times to know that, yes, glassware matters. These have been head-to-head comparisons. Depending on the shape of the glass, they smell and taste different.


Whenever someone announces a new type of drinking vessel to improve the drinking experience, it piques my attention. I’ve tried glasses from NEAT, Libby Perfect, Norlan, Reidel, Duradram, Aged & Ore, shot, rocks, and even wine glasses. When you consider nosing, sipping, tasting, and even hand feel, I think the basic Glencairn nosing glass is tops, so nearly every review I’ve completed has been done with a Glencairn.


That doesn’t mean I’m not open-minded. As previously stated, I’m fascinated by whiskey-centric drinking vessels. Hence, today’s review of the Whiskey Grail.


“This white oak drinking vessel is charred on the interior to mimic the barrels and casks used to age your favorite whiskey. Each Whiskey Grail is expertly handcrafted by our artisans and checked multiple times for quality. The Whiskey Grail uniquely enhances the drinking experience and enriches your whiskey.” – Whiskey Grail


The Whiskey Grail was established in 2020. It comes with a card that certifies it has been leak-tested with the signature of the person who did the testing. The card also provides care instructions: hand-wash with soap, no scrubbing or harsh materials, not dishwasher safe, do not soak in hot water, and don’t put it in a microwave oven. Its temperature tolerance is 35°F to 100°F. You can visit its website and discover it is listed for $40.99 for a single vessel.


The Whiskey Grail comprises eight “staves” and holds about 6 ounces of liquid. That’s a lot, but it also allows for cocktails and ice of various shapes. It has a tapered shape. The cups are made in Statesboro, Georgia, which is a nice plus (way to go Made-In-USA).

I sniffed at the Whiskey Grail. It is undoubtedly made from wood. Despite a coating over the outside, I can still smell wood. The inside looks like it is charred and smells like it is toasted. 

Whiskey Grail’s website invites users to compare head-to-head with a rocks glass. Since the only time I ever consider a rocks glass is with cocktails, I’m putting it up against my old, reliable standby: the Glencairn nosing glass.


For this experiment, I’m selecting a whiskey that I believe is relatively easy to judge: Elijah Craig 18. It is a 90° Bourbon that drinks like an 80°. Each glass had a carefully measured 1-ounce pour, and each was allowed to rest for 10 minutes before I began analyzing the whiskey inside.

“The Whiskey Grail uniquely enhances the drinking experience and enriches your whiskey.” We will test that statement right after I thank Whiskey Grail for providing me with its drinking vessel in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.


Hand Feel: One of the things I love about the Glencairn nosing glass is it feels good in my hand. The foot is solid, and there’s no sensation that the glass will slip out of my hand.


The Whiskey Grail has an entirely different hand feel than the Glencairn. However, it is effortless to grasp. It doesn’t have a slick or slippery texture.


Nosing: The Glencairn glass has always performed well. Its tulip shape directs the air to your nostrils. Tasting is continually enhanced by your sense of smell. Hold your nostrils closed and try to taste something – you can’t.


With the Glencairn, I smell cherries, plums, charred oak, caramel, vanilla, and tobacco.

With the Whiskey Grail, I smell the toasted oak, but that’s from the vessel itself, not the whiskey. I had a difficult time pulling a single note from the whiskey. That’s a major letdown.


Sipping: By “sipping,” I mean how easy it is to drink from the glass. Some are easier than others. I know I aggravate my friend George Manska whenever I state that his NEAT glass is cumbersome to drink from.


This is the one shortcoming I have with a Glencairn. My schnozz is huge. Getting to my whiskey without tilting my head back can be challenging.  

The Whiskey Grail was far more manageable. It acted exactly like a rocks glass. My nose fit in it with zero problems. Deciding if I wanted to have the flat part or the corner joint against my lips was an interesting experience. I preferred the corner joint.


Tasting: This is the Glencairn’s biggest strength. I am tasting it properly because it channels the whiskey’s aroma to my nostrils.


With the Glencairn, I tasted caramel, cherries, charred oak, leather, tobacco, and clove.


With the Whiskey Grail, there were flavors of vanilla, charred oak, and clove. The charred oak was more prominent than with the Glencairn.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: What’s my verdict? In my hand, the Whiskey Grail nudged out the Glencairn. It was a clear winner concerning sipping. But, with the two most critical sensory experiences - nosing and tasting – the Whiskey Grail struggled.


I like the idea of what the Whiskey Grail offers. Drinking from a wooden vessel is undoubtedly a different sensation. The charred interior is innovative. It is attractive-looking and makes for a gorgeous presentation. It is an attention-getter and a cool vessel to talk about.


Adding anything but crushed ice to a Glencairn is a feat. With the Whiskey Grail, that’s going to be easy. However, as ice is naturally below 32° and the Whiskey Grail suggests a temperature tolerance of 35° to 100°, would that be a problem?


I said I was open to having a new, better whiskey glass. As a whiskey enthusiast who finds nosing and tasting sensations paramount, the Whiskey Grail couldn't unseat my Glencairn nosing glass. A cocktail enthusiast could potentially love the Whiskey Grail. As such, it earns my Bar rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you to do so responsibly.