If you'd like a more direct comparison between glasses and learn why the Bennuaine is designed the way it is, here's the breakdown!
- Machine-made. The lip is thicker and not finely polished. It often times has distortion in the crystal.
- Basic crystal. Their composition has a grayish tint and is prone to chipping.
- They're small glasses with a little nubby base. This means that you’re holding the glass by the bowl and smudging it with fingerprints. More critically to nosing, you’re potentially impacting the aromas with scents from your hand (food, soap, perfume, etc).
- Hand-blown. Very fine walls with a polished lip.
- Titanium crystal. There’s essentially no gray tint to this glass, it’s pretty stunning how it refracts light and shows the true color of the liquid inside. The titanium greatly helps with shine and durability. Chipping is not an issue.
- Has a stem. (Cue screams!) This is the element a lot of folks can’t get their head around. But, let's take a walk down Madison Avenue. Whisk(e)y has been heavily advertised since the 1900’s as a “men’s drink”. It was made by men for men, drank with cigars, in those dusty wood and leather rooms. Spirits were poured and showcased in heavily blocky tumblers because they were perceived as more manly than dainty stemware. Now, times have changed. Look at how premium stemware for wine is made to be as lightweight and finely crafted as possible. Not many people see someone drinking wine from Zalto/Grassl/Gabriel Glas and think “what a weak pitiful human being”.
For enjoying the qualities of any liquid, stems are objectively better because you can hold the glass while also clearly observing the color of the liquid inside, they prevent the bowl from getting dirty, and provide hand-to-nose distance so you’re not affected by other aromas.
The downside to stems, as anyone in the world who has a snapped a wine glass knows, is durability. BUT! With all that in mind, the stem of the Bennuaine is reinforced with titanium and fairly compact – about three fingers in height, significantly shorter than wine stems. The shorter nature of the stem means it’s less prone to being knocked over, has stronger torsional rigidity (meaning if you do unfortunately twist the glass while cleaning it won’t snap like a tall stem might), and also fits in every single top dishwasher rack.
Essentially the Bennuaine design is meant to provide the benefits of stems while heavily mitigating its traditional compromises with better materials and design.
- A small and compact shape. It’s better than a tumbler for the most part, we can all admit that much. But what this compact nature means is that for powerful drinks like whiskey with high ABVs, it's constricting the delicate, more enjoyable elements, and focusing the unpleasant ethanol. Your poor nose is getting blown out by concentrated ethanol.
- For tasting, whiskey, like a lot of wine, benefits from oxygen. There’s not much surface area to the glass, so you need to aggressively swirl the spirit to engage with air. This effects both aroma and taste and can lead to spillage.
- Massive surface area and no taper. You lose pretty much all the detail in nose and a lot in taste from the start. Then it oxidizes too quickly, and it all gets worse.
- Has wider form (about 15% larger at maximum diameter) with a stronger taper (about 15% narrower at the opening) so that there’s a balance between strength and detail.
- When nosing from Bennuaine, the width provides aeration, but the heavy taper helps retain aroma. The flare at the top of the glass also provides distance for your nose, so you can get really get intimate with the glass without torching the nose hairs. If you have patience, the glass really rewards pouring and coming back after 15 minutes.
- When tasting, you also get some softer notes from the increased aeration. Not as pronounced as the difference in the aromas, but there is a difference. Additionally, the flare at the top also helps but spreading the spirit across a larger surface when it hits your palate. This motion happens quick, but first impressions on the tongue are real.