I’m not really into drinking grog out of the bottle, which means I need to find something to put the stuff in before it can be guzzled down. Rum, being a liquid, can be drunk out of any watertight container but does it really make a difference what that container is? Well, yeah. I mean, by all means drink rum out of a coffee mug if you want to (it’s your rum) but I’d suggest that you won’t gain much from the experience other than a slight light-headedness (or raging hangover)……depending on how responsible you are. If you’re drinking a “sipping” rum then you’ll ideally be wanting a glass.
Here are some glasses:
All different shapes right, so which one should you use and why does it matter? The answer all depends on how you are drinking your rum and what you want to get out of the experience.
The general rule of thumb is; if you want to get the most out of the aroma (nose) and taste (palate) then you need a glass with a rim that tapers inwards, and ideally a bowl type shape at the bottom – a tulip glass. If you want to mix your rum with anything other than water (ice or a mixer) then you need a glass that is wide enough to accommodate the volume. As the mixer and/or ice will hide the finer aromas you don’t need to be too concerned about an inward taper on the rim.
These have a bowl at the bottom and taper in at the rim. This lets you swirl the rum without it spilling, which agitates the liquid and releases aroma compounds, and it also forces the aromas together at a point just above the middle of the rim so as to concentrate them. It also stops any of the aromas whizzing off anywhere unwanted – if they want to get out of the glass then they are going to have to get past you nose.
The Glencarin. My personal favourite. Small bowl and nice taper to the rim. Focal point is just outside the top of the glass in the middle of the opening, I find this offers the best of the nose:
The Copita style glass. Similar to the Glencairn but with a stem to hold. Some have a flare at the rim, others taper in more at the rim and less of a bowl, but they are essentially the same. Often a better nose with a narrower rim but you loose some of the palate with this. Taste is a mixture of smell and taste you if the rim is too narrow then you can’t smell when you sip, so you sacrifice palate:
The Brandy snifter. Er….a brandy glass. Wider bowl and not as narrow at the rim, gives a nice swirl but doesn’t concentrate the nose as well:
These are short, wide and sturdy glasses. Some taper a bit, some flare a bit, but generally they are as wide at the top as they are at the base and allow enough room for ice to be added or to hold the extra volume when a mixer is added.
There are many other random shaped glasses out there, most of which are a combination of the other glass types. Here is a glass I have that is an example of a crossover between a tumbler and a copita style glass. It’s as wide as a tumbler but has a thick stem and slight taper with a flare to provide a basic swilling bowl:
Personal preference and all that. I always use a Glencairn when reviewing. This is because I came from whisky and it’s a pretty standard whisky glass, but also because I know it well. I know how to get the nose and palate right and consistent in it and how to use it to change what I experience. When drinking and not reviewing I usually alternate between the Glencairn or a Copita depending on mood. There are times though that I will sit with my hybrid glass (above), full of ice and a sweeter no-brainer rum, in the sun and just chill.
……oh, all my glasses are crystal by the way. I find this is just a nicer glass to hold due to weight.