I have been using my blog as a notebook. As a diary, where I keep track of what I learn. Today I learned something about a “conclusion” I formulated in another blog. I was wrong about the conclusion I drew in the blog about ISO 16657 tasting glasses.

What I had concluded is that the Ardbeg Shorty glass is equally shaped as the Standard ISO 16657 Tasting Glass for Olive Oil.

The photo’s below clearly show the two glasses are not equal in size at all.

So, I was wrong. That is a fact.

So what is a tasting glass for wine (whisky) supposed to look like? The good people of the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) have put this on paper back in 1977. They did so for the wine tasting industry. For lack of any other better glass, and the fact that this is the standard glass used in many other ISO standards, it has not been updated since. Here is the link to the ISO website: https://www.iso.org/standard/9002.html

There is another tasting glass that is described by the ISO. It is a tasting and nosing glass for olive oil. You read it correct, olive oil.

Should whisky drinkers be using the olive oil glass? I have bought it and I like the feel it has! The nosing is good too. Below I made a comparison.

ISO 3591:1977 Wine Tasting Glass
ISO 16657:2006 Olive Oil Tasting Glass

The diameter of the olive oil tasting glass, 50 [mm], is 5.6 [mm] wider that the wine tasting glass, 44.4 [mm]. This is only a 2.8 [mm] difference at both sides of your nose. I guess the wine drinkers have smaller noses! Just kidding. Why is the diameter different? I am clueless. Do Spanish/Italian oil tasters have wider noses than French wine tasters??

At the widest part of the olive oil glass the internal diameter is 67 [mm] where the wine tasting glass is 63.4 [mm] wide. This gives the tasting glasses an evaporative surface area at the widest diameter of 3525 and 3156 [mm2], if the glasses where to be filled to that level. This would mean the potential for volatiles to evaporate is bigger in an olive oil glass.

There the wine glass is 100 [mm] tall the olive oil glass is 60 [mm] tall. There is 55 [mm] height of glass for the olive oil to be in. The wine glass has about 98 [mm] height of glass. (the norm is underspecified here). Combined with the capacity of the glasses there is more of less room available for volatiles to build up. The capacity of the olive oil tasting glass is 130 [ml] where the wine tasting glass has a capacity of 215 [ml]. This would mean that, with a lid, the olive oil glass would contain a higher concentration (per volume) of volatiles than in the wine tasting glass. This is because the area from which the volatiles can escape from is larger and the volume they end up in is smaller, thus increasing the concentration. Without a lid, the higher wine glass might be better at keeping the volatiles in the glass, because it is higher. I say might because my knowhow of thermodynamics sucks!

The differences in concentration can be compensated by heat or time. Heat increases the amount of volatiles that evaporate. So more volatiles over the same time when the heat is higher. The other option is to wait longer. With more time more volatiles can evaporate.

The combination of diameters, heights, volumes, temperatures, detection threshold concentrations and time make the difference for both glasses.  Sounds logical doesn’t it. The one factor a glass cannot compensate for is you. The size of your nose, the configuration of your internal nasal cavity, the health of your smell organ, the training of your brain.

So which glass is “better”?

  • Both glasses are able to produce the same concentrations of volatiles in the glass, when given time.  So no winner there.
  • If you haven’t got the time, go for the olive oil glass. But why taste if you don’t have the time.
  • If you want to NOT warm your whisky with your hand, go for the wine tasting glass. It has a stem you can hold.
  • If you want to warm your whisky with your hand, go for either. Unless you like cupping a feel better, then take the olive oil glass.
  • If there is a draft or a wind is blowing, then neither glass work and you probably should not taste or nose with any serious intent. Unless you put your nose down wind ….. jk …
  • If you want to compare notes with other tasters, and take the glass out of the equation as an influence, go for the most excepted one, which would be the wine tasting glass.
  • If you want to look all nerdy, go for the olive oil tasting glass! Unless you are a professional olive oil taster! Then go nerdy with the wine tasting glass.

So, no winner, but some choices you can make to decide for yourself.

Why is the olive oil glass different from the wine tasting glass? I think it has something to do with the option of heating the olive oil glass on a warming unit. This requires the lack of a stem and some surface area to apply the warmth on the bottom of the glass.  Why is the olive oil glass less high? I have no idea.

I checked the measurements in the ISO standards on the glasses I own and found out that my wine tasting glass is to 90 [mm] high, where it should be 100 [mm] and the diameter is not correct either! It is less than the standard says it should be. This meant that I had been living under the false perception of owning a real wine tasting glass!

Now I need to go find the correct one! And buy it! What a bummer 😉

I did also find out that the Ardbeg Shorty glass has just about the same diameter opening as my (now debunked) blue tasting glass. This would mean that the “nasal interface” is equal? … My Bruichladdich Tour Glass is close to being equal to the ISO 3591 tasting glass. Be it at the bottom end of the tolerances allowed by the standard. Interesting.

Why are the glasses blue? It obscures the colour of the liquid and thereby prevents bias on the part of the one tasting it. You can buy these in black as well.