The Norlan Whiskey Glass – A Complete Guide & In-Depth Review

Norlan Whisky Glass
  • Size: 3.7″ tall, 3.2″ diameter and 2.5″ diameter at rim
  • Capacity: 6.9 fl oz
  • Weight: 4.4 oz
  • Glass: Mouth-Blown Double-Walled Borosilicate Glass
  • Purpose: Enjoying Hard Spirits Neat

The Norlan Whisky Glass

Who Designed it

The Norlan Whisky Glass was designed with master distiller Jim McEwan and help from a large group of designers and engineers.

With the idea of a new nosing glass born, they gathered at a 4-day retreat where they discussed, designed, and 3D printed tens of models until they perfected their new nosing glass.

They then set it up for funding on Kickstarter. Their page can be found here, where it received over 1000% more funding than they had originally asked for.

The Purpose

The idea behind the Norlan glass was to create an exceptional nosing glass that still had the comfortability, look, and ease of use that comes with a traditional whiskey tumbler.


This glass is not meant to hold any mixer or ice, and since a large bowl can concentrate ethanol vapors, disrupting the more natural aroma, the glass has a distinctively small stature.

The glass measure 3.7″ tall, 3.2″ in diameter, and 2.5″ diameter at the rim. Making it quite a small glass in hand, but perfect to nose a dram.


With smaller size comes a smaller inner capacity. Because this glass is only meant to hold no more than one 1.5 fl oz shot at the time, the overall capacity is only 6.9 fl oz, again making for a smaller capacity glass.


Even with its double-walled design, the weight of these glasses is only 4.4oz, which is EXTREMELY light.

This is a feature that some people love in a whiskey glass, and some people hate, so factor this feature into your decision of whether or not to buy the glass.

Type of Glass

The Norlan glass is made from mouth-blown borosilicate glass. Borosilicate is a lab-grade quality glass and is often used in bakeware because of its extreme durability and thermal shock resistance.

Thermal shock resistance means that the glass can go from one temperature extreme to another without cracking.

Very high-quality glass and a custom mouth-blown design make each of these glasses a beautiful individual piece.

Important Distinguishing Features

Double Walled Design

The double-walled design of this glass serves two important purposes.

The faceted bottom of the outer wall allows you to comfortably inspect your whiskey as you hold it from the bottom, making sure that you don’t get fingerprints on the glass that could disrupt your view.

The double-wall also solves the problem that all other stemless glasses have. Whiskey, as well as other spirits, each have their own specific temperatures at which they should be served.

This is why most traditional glasses have stems. When you hold a glass by the bowl, the warmth from your hand will begin to warm the whiskey, changing your perception of the flavors and aromas.

By giving the glass a double-walled design, you overcome this issue as your hand is not touching the interior bowl, so it is not transferring heat into the glass.

Interior Protrusions

There are protrusions or “fins” on the bottom of the interior bowl. These protrusions come up from the bottom of the glass and cause the whiskey to form a standing wave formation as it is swirled.

This standing wave increases the whiskey’s surface area and allows for added aeration, releasing more ethanol but also more aromatics.

Norlan Whiskey Glass showing how it creates its own unique swirl in the glass due to its interior protrusions

Shape of The Interior Wall

Once the whiskey is properly aerated due to the interior protrusions’ added performance, you are left with increased aromatics but also increased ethanol.

This is where the shape of the interior wall comes into play. This shape is similar to a Glencairn or a tulip glass, and that is because this shape works well to separate those two vapors.

The interior shape with a wide bowl that comes in at the middle and flares at the rim causes the ethanol vapors to separate from the aromatics and creates a sweet spot in the middle of the glass.

This sweet spot is the perfect area for the now aerated, full bouquet of your whiskey. Allowing it to open up without being hindered by strong ethanol fumes.

Allowing the drinker to get a sense of the full, more nuanced flavors of their favorite whiskey.

Options Available When Choosing Your Norlan Glass

Side by Side Comparison of the Transparent Norlan Glass and the VAILD Norlan Glass

Traditional Transparent Norlan Glass

Traditional Transparent Norlan Glass

The Traditional Transparent Norlan Glass is the natural mouth-blown double-walled glass model. It doesn’t have any coating and, in my opinion, is the only glass for a true connoisseur.

A significant part of enjoying and experiencing everything that your whiskey has to offer means seeing the depth and color of your whiskey.

This is unique to each style and batch and something that distinguishes it from its competition. This glass being fully transparent allows you to factor that important aspect into your appreciation of the spirit.

VAILD Norlan Glass (Black Exterior Coating)

Vaild Black Norlan Glass

The Vaild Black Norlan Glass is beautiful; there is no doubt about it. The matte black coating on the exterior is sleek and futurist. The black coating remains on the outside, so it does not reach the inside of the glass.

Unfortunately, I have two complaints about this style. For starters, I don’t like the matte finish on my lips; I much prefer the feel of glass as I drink.

Glass is what I always drink from, and the matte finish seems to pull my full attention away from the spirit, something I don’t like in a pure-tasting glass.

My second issue is the fact that the matte black coating covers the exterior of the glass. As I said, a large part of fully experiencing your whiskey is the ability to see it!

This glass completely takes that part out of the equation, and although it is beautiful, I think it detracts from this glass’s ability to be a competitive tasting glass.

How Does It Hold Up To The Competition?

The Glencairn Glass

The Glencairn Whiskey Glass

The Glencairn Glass was made with the same idea as the Norlan glass; A passionate connoisseur wanted to make a glass that was known and loved as the “official whiskey tasting glass.”

Something that would be iconic and that people would think of when asked what is the best glass to truly experience your whiskey.

When it comes to comparing the Norlan Glass and the Glencairn glass, it comes down to aeration and temperature. The Glencairn glass has a small stem, but people still tend to hold it by the bowl.

This is the natural inclination because it is usually much more comfortable than holding it by the stem.

The unfortunate aspect of this is that when holding it by the bowl, your hand will begin to warm up the whiskey. This is a flaw that you won’t get with the Norlan glass.

Although you hold the Norlan glass by the bowl, the double-walled design not only makes it more comfortable but also ensures that you don’t warm your drink.

The second competitive feature is the ability to aerate your whiskey.

Although you don’t want to aerate whiskey like you do a glass of fine red wine, you should still swirl it in your glass because this light aeration releases more natural aromas.

With these aromas comes more ethanol, but the shape of both the Glencairn and Norlan glass handle the ethanol well.

Where the Norlan glass really excels is with the protrusions in the bottom of its bowl. These protrusions cause extra aeration and a strong, more concentrated release of favorable aromas.

The Neat Glass

The NEAT Glass

The NEAT Glass matches the Norlan Glass in size, weight, and capacity. Like the Norlan Glass, it is small in stature and small in capacity but remains relevant because it is meant to be a nosing glass, and like the Norlan, it is exceptional at that.

The NEAT glass doesn’t have interior protrusions, but it still has a wide bowl that makes it easy to swirl and aerate your whiskey.

Like the Norlan, this glass has a smaller bowl capacity that allows the aroma to concentrate without letting the ethanol vapors become overpowering.

It narrows at the top, pulling the aromatic molecules together and delivering them to the nose, while the flared rim naturally pulls the ethanol vapors away from the center of the glass.

I think the Norlan glass and the NEAT glass are the two closest competitors when it comes to a first place nosing glass.

The neat is obviously fantastic, as it has come to be the certified competition glass for many major spirit tasting competitions.

Where I think the Norlan glass really excels is in its double-walled design—allowing the drinker to hold their glass for longer without the fear of their hand warming and changing their perception of the spirit inside.

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