Wednesday 3 November 2021

Style-specific Whisky glasses? Why not!? A review of Lucaris' new "Gràn Collection"

The world of wine has a variety of glasses (or "stemware") to suit the many styles within - a large, bowl-like glass for Pinot Noir, a smaller, tighter glass for Riesling, a flute for Champagne (arguably not the most effective design for flavour, but regardless...) and so on. Wine's many varieties are sufficiently different that a range of glasses are needed to bring out the various nuances in each, or so the story goes.

...but what about whisky? From a light, delicate Lowland, to a "sherrybomb" Speysider, to an Islay peat monster, whisky is arguably as varied and nuanced as wine, if not more so...and that's before we even leave Scotland. Why should we drink all whiskies from the same style of glass?

That's the question Matthew Fergusson-Stewart (co-founder of Spun Spirits, noted Asia-based whisky personality, co-founder of the global Dram Full community, former Glenfiddich South East Asia Ambassador, and good friend of mine) asked last year, ultimately leading to the development of the "Gràn Collection" by Lucaris, consisting of four distinct whisky glasses:
  • Delicate: With a “unique angled rim designed to emphasize the light fruity and floral notes in more delicate whiskies”, designed for “Classic Irish whiskies, lowland Scotch whiskies, and more delicate Speyside whiskies such as Glenfiddich and Glenlivet”.
  • Sherried: With a “wider bowl to increase interaction between whisky and air”, designed for “Sherried whiskies including Aberlour, Glendronach, Macallan, The Yamazaki, and Glenfarclas”.
  • Peated: With “a narrow rim that expresses the richer earthier notes”, designed for whiskies including Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Port Charlotte, Ardbeg and Talisker.
  • Classic: A “classically styled stemmed and tulip shaped glass designed for balanced whiskies”, designed for blends, balanced single malts, and classic Bourbons.

Matthew’s whisky credentials are well-known throughout Asia (ref: aforementioned experience), but he’s also somewhat of an oracle on the chemistry behind whisky, having authored two authoritative papers on chill-filtration, and created the “Whisky Molecules”  group on Facebook. All of which makes him pretty qualified to develop a collection of style-specific glasses, if you ask me.


Now when it comes to glassware, I generally sit between “believer” and “sceptic”. Yes, I agree the shape/size/design of a glass can absolutely change or enhance the nose/palate of a dram, but I also feel there are glasses out there which are more style than substance - with spurious / questionable claims about enhancing the nose etc… all in the interests of making a few bucks. Whilst I had no doubt Matthew’s glasses would NOT fall into this category, of course I wanted to give them a proper test run. Thankfully Matthew and HK distributor KKH were kind enough to send me a set so I could do just that.

For the test, I went with a classic GlenDronach 18 for the Sherried glass, an SMWS Inchmurrin (“112.61 Crazy Fruits”) for the Delicate glass, an intense single cask 2010 7yo Octomore (cask #4819) for the Peated glass, and for something a bit different, a Russell's Reserve 10yo Bourbon for the Classic glass. Pouring equal measures of each into the glasses, along with 4 separate Glencairns (my usual go-to), I nosed and then tasted each side-by-side:

Sherried: Now this was impressive. The Gràn Sherried really made the dram come to life, with a nose bursting with dark chocolate, whereas dark chocolate skulked about in the background with the Glencairn. Just hugely expressive overall! You'd swear the whisky in the Glencairn was a good few ABV% less, such was the contrast.

Delicate: The Inchmurrin's intensely fruity nature, with grassy, floral notes (a result of a higher cut point & the distillery's use of rectifying heads) really showed through much more prominently in the Gràn Delicate glass. There was more grassiness, more fruitiness and overall a "cleaner", more focused nature, especially on the nose.

Peated: The Gràn Peated glass gave this dram (a heavyweight 62% peat monster) more of an ashy, and surprisingly sweeter note. As with some of the others, the whisky felt a bit "cleaner", and more focused - especially on the nose.

Classic: This I found interesting, with the Gràn Classic glass producing a slightly more saline / sea air note, with less Orange/citrus than I found with the Glencairn. Less notable difference compared with the Delicate glass, but noticeable nonetheless.

So in summary? VERY impressive. No word of a lie, the difference was stark. In all cases, the nose was much more pronounced, and in some cases seemed “cleaner” - in the sense that the core, desirable notes (like dark chocolate in the ‘dronach) where much clearer and easier to discern. 

So Kudos to Matthew & Lucaris then,

A review of glassware of course shouldn't neglect to mention the quality and feel of the glasses, and in that department these shine too. They’re delicate (much more so than a Glencairn), but solid enough to survive a whack I accidentally gave one on the tap. In wine glass terms, I’d put them closer to a Zalto, or Riedel’s “Fatto a Mano” series. They definitely have that quality / premium nature, and feel incredible in the hand.

Available as pairs, or as a set of four, the Gran Collection is $2,400HKD from KKH in Hong Kong, or $397SGD RRP in Singapore. No word yet on Aussie pricing or availability.


No comments:

Post a Comment