This past Christmas (I know, I know… And I have no good excuses for my delay to post), my ever-thoughtful sister gifted a beautiful pair of glasses to me. I can only imagine how her search for my gift actually went but, to hear her tell the story, it involved wonder about what to get a “whisky nerd” who apparently has everything already, while also feeling a little unsure about an outright display of support for my dramming habit by giving me an actual bottle of booze, not to mention completely ignorant toward how to choose a bottle I was sure enjoy… I don’t think you need to know my sister personally to pick up on all of the not-so-subtle jabs she was taking at me.
Nevertheless, I was quite thrilled to open my gift and see a carton of two Norlan glasses. I have been interested in this technology since reading about it on other blogs but my satisfaction with traditional Glencairns as well as the unavailability of Norlan glasses in stores (online orders only, I believe) had so-far kept me from getting my own.
For my comparison, I sampled some nice Classic Laddie in both the new Norlan and my usual Glencairn. Here’s what I thought:
Honey and floral heather… Graphite… Vanilla. The Glencairn also delivers a clear malty-cereal character as well as some citrusy goodness on the nose.
Noticeably less pronounced nose compared to the Glencairn. Honey and floral heather… Graphite… Vanilla… Those aromas are all still there, I just had to work a bit harder to find them. The malty character is pretty much absent but there is now a distinct herbal quality in its place – minty, eucalyptus.
Oak, rose water, vanilla, subtle baking spices and a mineral slate-like quality. The Glencairn delivers my sip directly to the tip of the tongue, which helps to highlight the sweet honey and bourbony elements of the whisky. The finish is medium, maybe medium-long, with pencil shavings, caramel and a nutty sensation.
Very similar. Oak, rose water, vanilla, subtle baking spices and a mineral slate-like quality are all in the mix once again. The Norlan glass seems to bring a sip of whisky a bit further back on the palate, which makes for a slightly more bitter and peppery profile. The finish is again medium with flavours of oak and minerals, sweet caramel and nuts.
The Norlan Glass is a beautiful piece of glassware. I like how it feels in my hand and, if I’m drinking with friends who mix their drinks in tumblers, maybe I won’t feel quite as pretentious with the Norlan as with a Glencairn. Maybe, but probably not… I have no qualms about matching my glass to whatever I’m drinking, so I may just stick with my trust Glencairn or, perhaps, my Canadian Glencairn.
I should probably do more side-by-side comparisons, in the name of science of course, but I’m not yet sure that I can say the Norlan glass is better or worse, in terms of an overall drinking experience. The nose is decidedly subdued, compared to a Glencairn, and there seems to also be a slightly different taste experience, due to how the whiskey is delivered to the tongue. However, some aromas and flavours did also seem to be enhanced by the Norlan, so maybe it’s a trade-off in the end. I, for one, love to nose my whisky so I find the subdued nosing experience of the Norlan to be a strike against it. That said, however, I’m sure my new Norlan glasses will see plenty of use, especially when I can show them off when a buddy drops by come over for a dram.