The Norlan Whisky Glass – A Comparative Review

The day has finally come. After having backed the Norlan Whisky Glass on Kickstarter back in November 2015 (funded successfully in mid-December), the promised backer reward finally made it to my doorstep Monday afternoon. I wasted no time upon arriving home that evening in unpackaging and pouring myself (Jason as well as Jean) a few drams into the new glass as well as a more traditional Glencairn-styled whisky glass for comparison, in this case I used my daily drinker: a Single Malt Dianco glass. Not *intending* to do a full review until later in the week, I couldn’t help myself but to write down our notes and dig in to a proper review as we began the initial testing of the glassware.

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Unboxing

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Unboxing

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Unboxing

 

My initial impressions:

Comparison notes: For this comparison, I chose to sample Tualatin Valley Distilling’s Oregon Experimental Series American Whiskey, Project Cherry Wood Smoke, at 100.6 proof (sadly currently sold-out).IMG_2532

Nose

  • Norlan – Deeper caramel and stone fruit notes with a more delicate overall presence of slight, nearly imperceptible alcohol.
  • Traditional – Substantially punchy alcohol notes followed by aromas of grass, nougat, and bubble gum.Comparison note: The glassware absolutely has a dramatic impact on the nose of the whiskey, though I am not sure I can decide which I preferred. On one hand the more traditional style gave me a deeper sense of the higher proof of the whiskey as it sat in the glass, whereas the Norlan provided me more refined structure of the aromas without the more powerful impact of the alcohol bowling over the nose.

IMG_2537Palate

  • Norlan – Grassy forward then into a mellow stone fruit and mild hint of smoke, followed by soft butterscotch.
  • Traditional – Grassy forward then into a mellow stone fruit and mild hint of smoke, followed by soft butterscotch.

    Comparison note:
    Yup, same tasting notes for both glasses. We found no appreciable difference in the actual palate of the whiskey when sipped from either the Norlan or more traditional Single Malt Dianco glassware. Note, however, that our glasses remain on a side table as we sampled back and forth, where a more appreciable difference may have presented itself if the glassware were constantly help in the hand under differing usage scenarios.

Usage

  • Norlan – The thicker, more rounded lip of the glass removes the glass sensation from the lips and allows more focus on the flavour of the whiskey as presented. Jean found it more comfortable to sip from but also noted a less precise sip occurred in part due to the light weight of the glass regardless of quantity of fill. The external facets feel comfortable in the hand, though overall the glass has a very delicate presentation in feel.
  • Traditional – Far more substantial and weighty in the hand, lending to a familiar sip and control. The sharper edge of the glass lip becomes part of the overall tasting experience and slightly impacts the initial sharpness of the whiskey presented.

    Comparison note:
    This is going to come down to personal preference as far as usage. Many people tend to prefer more substance in their glassware than the Norlan would initially present. While I’d have no qualms about running my more traditional style through the dishwasher (side note, I don’t, but feel it could withstand such an undertaking) I don’t feel the Norlan would survive such treatment due to it’s overall sense of a very delicate nature.

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Conclusions:

This is a cool glass that any whisky/whiskey geek should have in their arsenal. Some may find it is the absolute perfect glass for them, but I have not yet come to that conclusion for myself. With the palate reflecting the same profile in both vessels, I’d recommend it as a worthwhile purchase for a whiskey nerd, but the average whiskey drinker may not find any discernable difference between the Norlan and traditional Glencairn-style Single Malt Dianco glassware. This would make for a fun gift for any whiskey drinker who takes their drams ‘neat’, so definitely recommended as a wonderful whiskey gift. For those expecting a dramatically different experience, however, you may not be as impressed as you were hoping to be. Sadly, the Norlan glass will remain on my shelves as a cool gadget novelty while I continue to imbibe using my Glencairn and traditional style glassware for daily drinking. I’m very please to have a set, but they won’t be replacing my current daily drinkers.

You can preorder your own here, if you missed out on the Kickstarter backing: http://www.norlanglass.com/norlan-glass/

 


3 Responses to The Norlan Whisky Glass – A Comparative Review

  1. A very informative comparison. I’ve been considering purchasing a set of the Norlan and was very curious if there was a noticeable difference. I was surprised to hear the Norlan is lighter because from the photos I would have thought the opposite. I will probably still purchase a set for my Scotch Bar and have some fun with friends doing our own comparisons. Thank you so much for taking the time to perform and share this comparison.

  2. When I received my two Norlan glasses I was ecstatic. The design was everything I’d been led to believe it was, making these the prettiest glasses I had for drinking from. I began sipping my whiskey from them and enjoyed every bit of the experience, until I found broken glass in my whiskey. It seems the Norlan glass is only good if you don’t like your whiskey cold from ice cubes. You know the typical manner of placing ice in a glass, right? Drop the cubes into the empty glass, then pour the whiskey on top. You can’t do that with the Norlan glass, as the wall of it is far too thin and breaks easily from a single cube striking it. I set the broken glass aside, not in the least happy to find such an expensive glass rendered useless. At least I hadn’t swallowed any of the broken glass. From then on I placed my ice in my lone existing glass as carefully as possible, but found that swirling the ice while drinking is just as dangerous as dropping the ice into an empty one of these glasses.
    I had written to Norlan and told them of my displeasure when the first glass broke. They responded quite well in sending me a replacement and only THEN informing me the Norlan glass was not designed for placing ice within. THAT tidbit would have been nice to know from the onset, thank you. When all my carefulness in drinking from the Norlan glass resulted in my second glass STILL breaking I set the replacement glass aside, afraid to ever use it again, for fear of one day swallowing broken bits of glass.
    Thank you, Norlan, for creating an expensive glass I cannot drink from as I am used to doing, since your glass does not “play well” with ice. My recommendation on the Norlan glass? It’s fine as long as you drink your whiskey at room temperature, but if, like me, you prefer your drink on the rocks, forget this atrocity and go with something better suited for a cold enjoyment.
    Oh, and I now see Norlan has come out with a “black” glass, which only means they coated the OUTSIDE with black to make it look even cooler than before, BUT the inside wall is just as fragile as before, so the black glass isn’t any better suited for drinking on the rocks as the original. I wouldn’t use the Norlan glass if they sent me a dozen of them for free.

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