2016 BTAC George T Stagg: Proper Glassware Matters!

I first had 2016 GTS at a bar a month ago.  It wasn’t it the proper glassware, the situation wasn’t perfect, and when I tried it, I found it to be way too hot on the nose and unable to enjoy it.  When I was able to acquire one a couple days ago (thanks bottle-spot.com!) I considering flipping it, but after a few drinks, drunker heads prevailed and I opened it.  I decided that I will review it twice to see how it evolves given how high the proof is.  I also decided to do the first  review in a Norlan glass to help focus on the flavors and reduce some of the heat.

Right after opening it: the Norlan glass is amazing because I’m finding this to be not nearly as hot as I remember it in the crappy bar glass.  The color is pretty much as dark as I’ve ever seen for a bourbon.  On the nose, French toast brioche with maple syrup, buttered cinnamon toast, butterscotch, candied walnuts and subtle charcoal.  The taste is BIG.  Huge tannins, huge mouthfeel and a big amount of heat.  This is so complex, and there is so much happening on the palate.  The heat quickly dissipated leaving the oak notes, tannins and the flavors.  The finish is several minutes long finishing nicely.  When you first taste it you think that the oak tannins will overpower everything, but they integrate nicely and much better than expected in an amazing way.  This is a very special bourbon.  I’m very glad I opened this because it is nothing like when I tried it in the bar with the wrong glassware.

A couple weeks later: this time in the classic Glencairn glass… the aroma is so rich with everything from a couple weeks ago and even though not in the Norlan glass, the heat isn’t that bad.  It’s incredible what a bad bar glass will do to the experience.  The taste is huge, big tannins, big flavor, with an insane finish.  So much sweetness and spice the lingers for minutes.  This is a special bourbon.

144.1 proof, a monster, but in the right glassware, it can be tamed.  Highly recommend picking this one up if you can find it at the lower end of secondary, but given pricing these days, it’s not easy to find.  97.5/100

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Does Glassware Matter?

I am a glassware snob.  I am neither proud, nor embarrassed.  Like I said in previous blogs, I started out as a wine guy and I have no greater pet peeve than going to a restaurant, ordering a nice bottle of wine, and being served in poor glassware.  Actually, low quality, hot, just out of the dishwasher glassware is even offensive to my personal code.  At home I have lots of different glasses for different types of wines so why not have the same thing for whiskey?

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There is a new whiskey glass out on the market, which I ordered off of Kickstarer a while ago, the Norlan glass; it just arrived this weekend.  I believed it was prudent to test it versus the old time favorite Glencairn glass.  For good measure I also also tested them against  Reidel’s single malt glass and the Dorset Old-Fashioned glass.

I decided to test the glasses with two of my current favorite whiskeys, one of a high proof cask strength version and one of a lower proof, the subjects chosen were: Elmer T. Lee bourbon and Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 Sherry Cask Finish.  Both of these are great whiskeys and I’ve enjoyed them many times before in Glencairn glasses.  I also decided to do two separate taste tests, the first at two minutes after pouring and the second at forty-five minutes.  This experiment is not about testing the whiskeys, as I know they are both world class, but rather to see how the glasses express the whiskeys.

Elmer T. Lee first round:

Dorset Old-Fashioned Glass:  I’m not getting a lot out of this one, smells ok.

Riedel Single Malt Scotch Glass:  Even less aroma than the old-fashioned glass.

Glencairn Glass:  Really nice concentrated nose, very flavorful, just awesome.

Norlan Glass:  Elegant nose, not as concentrated as the Glencairn, very enjoyable.

Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 Sherry Cash first round:

Dorset Old-Fashioned Glass:  Lots of heat, not a lot of flavor.

Riedel Single Malt Scotch Glass:  Not getting much on the nose here.

Glencairn Glass:  Very concentrated aroma, not a lot of heat, very enoyable.

Norlan Glass:  Almost no heat at all, less concentrated aroma than the Glencairn, but more balanced.

Elmer T. Lee Second round:

Dorset Old-Fashioned Glass:  Same as round one, small but ok flavor.

Riedel Single Malt Scotch Glass: Still not getting much here at all.

Glencairn Glass:  Very concentrated aroma, excellent.

Norlan Glass: Same as round one, very enjoyable but less concentrated.

Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 Sherry Cash second round:

Dorset Old-Fashioned Glass:  The heat is gone now, enjoyable.

Riedel Single Malt Scotch Glass:  Finally getting aromas now, elegant.

Glencairn Glass: Extremely concentrated and powerful nose, very complex.

Norlan Glass: Wow!  Best smell of the night, elegant, no heat, complex and flavorful.

Conclusion:  I only rated the smells I was getting from the different glasses as the tastes were too close to differentiate.  I wasn’t sure what to expect before testing these glasses, as I’ve been using mostly Glencairn glasses for a while, but I’m glad I did this.  The main conclusion is that both the Glencairn and the Norlan glasses are excellent.  If you are drinking an old-fasioned, the Dorset is fine, but don’t drink anything straight out of it.  I was extremely disappointed by the Reidel glass, the outward sloping glass lets out all the enjoyment.  For a less powerful whiskey the Glencairn glass is the clear winner: the Elmer T. Lee came out best when the aromas were captured in the tulip glass.  For a cask strenth, high proof whiskey, it’s almost too close to call, but for this test, the Norlan Whisky Glass won by a nose.  The Norlan’s design removed some of the ethanol, while maintaining the essence for the consumers enjoyment.  The answer to the question of whether glassware matters is a resounding yes.

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http://www.norlanglass.com/#the-glass-that-will-change-whisky

https://www.amazon.com/Glencairn-Crystal-Whiskey-Glass-Set/dp/B00HZTA9SW/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1468782187&sr=8-5&keywords=glencairn+glass

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/barrell-whiskey-002-magical-sherry-cask-finish/

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/