The enjoyment of sipping scotch not only comes from the taste of the malt liquor but the aroma. Different types of scotch glasses exist so both your taste and olfactory senses can take in the pleasures of drinking scotch. Different designs also allow you to take your scotch however you like it—straight, on the rocks or mixed.
Tumblers—sometimes referred to as old-fashioned glasses--are the glasses most-often associated with drinking scotch since the movie and television industry often portrays characters drinking scotch out of these short, square- or round-shaped glasses. Tumblers do make ideal scotch glasses when drinking scotch on the rocks or mixed with soda, ginger ale or water. However, if you are new to drinking scotch and haven’t yet appreciated all this liquor has to offer, these glasses aren’t for you. They do not allow you to take in the enticing aroma of the liquor as some other glasses do.
To experience the full taste and enjoyment of drinking scotch, you want to use a tulip-shaped glass such as a sherry copita, snifter or a scotch highball glass. Though slightly different in design, all these glasses have rounded bases with a tapered opening. This construction allows you to swirl your scotch around without spilling it and release the scent of the liquor. Since the opening is tapered, the aroma can’t escape. When you go to take a drink, you can also breathe in the smell of the scotch, enhancing its taste.
The lead oxide in crystal glasses gives it the sparkle and clarity that crystal is known for. Alcohol, including scotch, draws out this lead in the crystal the moment you pour your drink into the glass. The more expensive your crystal glasses, the higher the amount of lead they contain. Also, the higher the alcohol content of your scotch, the quicker the lead will seep out of the crystal. Despite the alcohol content and the amount of lead in the glass, the alcohol absorbs the lead at such a low rate that you can still safely drink from a crystal glass. However, storing alcohol in a crystal decanter over a long period of time does become dangerous. Lead poisoning can cause damage to the nervous and reproductive systems.