This blog is not very opinionated. It is in fact quite boring in it’s factuality.
The tools for tasting whisky are off course a whisky, whiskey or a bourbon. Next you need your hands, nose, mouth and eyes. The other thing you need, if you don’t drink from the bottle, is some kind of container.
There is wide debate which glass you need for the best experience. Questions like “What is the best whiskey glass?” or “Is the Norlan Whisky glass better?” or “is a Glencairn the best whisky glass?” This blog is about non of that debate. This blog is about world wide standardisation of a glass, a tasting glass.
The good people of the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) give us all kinds off standards to enjoy reading. Most, in fact all, of the standards on the site are download protected and need to be bought. Luckily for me, as an engineer, I know my way around some of these minor hurtles and I was able to download a copy of IS 14594:1998 (copy off ISO 3591:1977) which details the characteristics of a tasting glass. A wine tasting glass. Since there are no other ISO standards for tasting glasses this is apparently it.
Just like any other standard it lists all kinds of stuff.
The text below was found on the Indian standards site and was freely available here: https://law.resource.org/pub/in/bis/S06/is.14594.1998.pdf
This Indian Standard which is identical with IS0 3591 : 1977 ‘Sensory analysis – Apparatus -Wine tasting glass’ issued by the International Organisation for Standardisation (IS01 was adopted by the Bureau of Indian Standards on the recommendation of the Food Analysis and Nutrition Sectional Committee and approval of the Food and Agriculture Division Council. In the adopted standard certain terminology and conventions are not identical to those used in Indian Standards; attention is drawn specially to the following:
1 SCOPE AND FIELD OF APPLICATION
a) Wherever the words ‘International Standard’ appear referring to this standard, they should be read as ‘Indian Standard’.
b) Comma (,I) has been used as a decimal marker while in Indian Standards, the current practice is to use a point (.I) as the decimal marker.
This International Standard specifies the characteristics of a wine-tasting glass to be used for the sensory analysis of wines. This glass may be used for the examination, by all types of tests (simple tasting, profile analysis, etc.), of all organoleptic characteristics of wine samples (colour, clarity, bouquet, flavour).
2 DESCRIPTION (See figure)
The tasting glass consists of a cup (an “elongated egg”) supported by a stem resting on a base. The opening of the cup is narrower than the convex part so as to concentrate the bouquet.
3 PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
The tasting glass shall be made from colourless’) trans- parent glass (see note), which shall be free of grooves and bubbles.NOTE – The so-called “cr-ystallin” type (crystal glass) is a colourless transparent glass that has been found suitable. characteristics are as follows :Zinc oxide L&O), barium oxide (BaO), leadpotassium oxide (Kg01 (singly or in combination) > 10 % (m/m)The tasting glass may, if required, be provided with a lid.The tasting glassmay be graduated. 2) Ground to ensure that the edge is regular and horizontal.Relative density b 2.45 Refractive index > 1,520‘ts rim shall be regular, smooth and rounded (for example cold-cut, ground flat2) and reheated) and without unnecessary thickening as a result of annealing.
The tasting glass shall be annealed to a good commercial standard.
4 DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERISTICS
The tasting glass shall have the dimensions shown in the figure.
5 SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS
The tasting glass may, if required, be provided with a lid.
A small ground area for marking may be provided on the upper surface of the base.
5.3 Coloured glass
In certain special tests it is necessary to use a tasting glass made of a glass which is sufficiently deep in colour to mask the colour of the wine and thus to eliminate the visual factor.
5.4 Glass with an area for effervescence
In order to obtain reproducible results when determining the effervescence of certain wines, the tasting glass shall, in this case, have a ground circular area for the formation of bubbles. This ground area shall be in the central part of the bottom of the cup, and shall have a diameter of 5 f 0,5 mm.
1) Except for special cases free 5.3).
Recommendations for use.
A.1 UPPER SPACE AND QUANTITY TO BE TASTED
The tasting glass should not be completely filled with the wine sample as a space is necessary above the liquid to collect the volatile substances given off by the sample before the olfactory examination. A quantity of 50 ml of liquid should be poured into the glass to allow two samplings each of 25 ml.
A.2 CLEANING AND DRYING
The tasting glass should be perfectly clean; it should there- fore be carefully rinsed with distilled water after having been washed in such a way as to leave it completely odourless. Particular attention is drawn to the fact that the majority of commercial detergents are perfumed, and that drying towels can transmit an odour from the washing product used. The use of detergents is prohibited in particular when the glass is to be used to examine the effervescence of wines. Cleaning by use of concentrated mineral acids or a chromic- sulphuric mixture is not permitted.
Drying should preferably be carried out using hot air, free from traces of oil. Glasses to be used for the examination of effervescence should be rinsed several times with distilled water and left to dry, without a drying towel being used, in an inverted position. After drying, the glass should be protected from dust, preferably being suspended by its base or fitted with its lid if it is provided with one.
If markings are to be made on the ground area on the base, it is recommended that a pencil or a perfectly odourless ink be used.
A.4 USE AND HANDLING
Before use, it is necessary to rinse the glass with the wine to be tasted, except in the case of effervescent wines in which case only a perfectly dry glass should be used. To avoid the influence of body warmth, the glass should be grasped by the stem only, and the cup should not be touched by the fingers or the nose.
As any engineer can see the glass dimensions are under-dimentioned. Radius and other measurements are not given. But from this drawing I am sure people have been able to produce a proximate.
As one can read there are some good tips in there for anyone wanting to taste whisky how it “is standardised”. Please note that “standardised” does not equal “best”, “optimal”, or indeed most aesthetic or fun!
As is mentioned in the standard both transparent and coloured glasses may be use for unbiased flavour evaluation. This is why black and blue versions of this ISO glass are also available. You will notice that the exact shape is not one and the same, since the standard has under-dimensioned the technical specifications.