Pere did well with the birthday gifts this year. In addition to the NPR Cooks cookbook that I blogged about previously, she also got me a set of Riedel Vinum single malt whiskey glasses that I've wanted for a while now. I'm an avid scotch and bourbon fan, and I've been wanting a nice set of glasses to replace my favorite set of glasses that broke shortly after I moved to Arizona. You really can't go wrong with Riedel glasses. The Vinium series is machine made 24% lead crystal. They sell for about $30 a set. If you really want to step up, you can get a single hand blown Riedel Sommelier Single Malt Scotch Glass for about $45.
Although some people dismiss them as overpriced, or don't agree with the idea that the shape of the glass enhances the drinking experience, I think the Riedel glasses are fantastic. Taste enhancements aside, I like the idea of having different sets of glasses for the different drinks that I enjoy. My single malt glasses have great weight and balance, and I find the shape visually pleasing. Each glass holds seven ounces of spirits has a rim that rolls outward, channeling the whiskey to the tip of your tongue, which is supposed to bring out the sweetness and creaminess of the liquor.
So far, I've tried a glass of 18yr old Glenlivet, and a glass of Bulleit Bourbon, a brand they recently started selling at my local grocery (more on why I'm buying from the local grocery in another post). I tried both spirits neat, first in a regular double old fashioned glass, followed by a taste from the Riedel glass. I can say that the overall experience using the Riedel glass was better. There was a noticable increase in the concentration of flavors and sweetness, although not so much that it was a night and day difference. As I said, I think some of the difference is also in the perception, and that's ok with me. I like the way the glasses look and feel, and that's enough for me.