My procedure was fairly simple: each glass was filled with 0.5 oz of spirit, covered for a few minutes, then sampled. I tried this with two different spirits that I have previously reviewed - Eagle Rare bourbon and Glenfiddich Distiller's Edition. I sampled each spirit in its own session, trying to keep reasonably consistency each time. However, this is far from a true scientific sampling as it was impossible to do so blind and I'm sure I have some biases. However, it was still an interesting and enlightening experience.
Arran Gift Set Glass
Nose: caramel riding over mild, sweet, fresh oak, hints of berries
Taste: lightly sweet/sour up front, clarifies into creamy caramel, oak, pepper, and a hint of fruit near the finish
Nose: slightly dry and musty, light fruity/malt sweetness, fairly prominent alcohol, light oak, hint of chocolate and vanilla, creamy, briny, peat
Taste: very strong malt/sherry/chocolate sweetness, mild bitter/pepper at the back, slightly briny
This glass comes from the Arran 10 YO Gift Set, which I picked up earlier this year. The shape is very similar to the Glencairn tulip, which gives a significant amount of surface area for volatile compounds to evaporate, which are then concentrated by the narrower neck of the glass. It's become my standard tasting glass, especially for minis, because its ideal fill point is ~0.75 oz, which lets me get two solid tastings out of a mini.
Goodwill Angular Glass
Nose: vague caramel, little oak, more alcohol, a hint of rye grain, honey, chocolate
Taste: flatter, a little drier, more rye
Nose: balanced malt/fruity sherry, greenish/sour malt, a bit of chocolate
Taste: balanced malt sugar/fruity sweetness, bittersweet chocolate at the back, medium pepper
This is one of two tasting glasses I found at Goodwill a few months ago. Sadly I can't find much information about it, but it was only a dollar, so I figured I'd see how it went. Sadly I found that it didn't work particularly well, though that might not be the case with other spirits.
Goodwill Rounded Glass
Nose: pineapple, caramel, oak, subtle rye grain, bread
Taste: fairly sweet up front, then some sour oak and big pepper, mint in the finish
Nose: sour malt, very subdued sherry fruitiness, floral, oaky chocolate
Taste: sweetness is sherry-driven up front, great oloroso flavors, sour malt comes in mid-palate, creamy chocolate
This was another Goodwill find. Like the first, its ideal fill point is 0.5 oz. I found that this one worked better, giving a full, clear nose and palate from a rather small pour. While I'm rarely interested in such small pours, it may come in handy if I ever order dram samples from Master of Malt, which are only 30 mL. This glass would let me split them in two without feeling like I was getting an incomplete experience each time.
Nose: grassier, green fruits, fresher, less caramel and oak, hints of sweet rye grain, bready
Taste: very sweet, sugary all the way through, still fresh, big pepper fades quickly, a hint of bitter oak, very subdued caramel
Nose: malty/floral, light but rich sherry, chocolate, subtle pepper
Taste: intense sugar/malt/fruit/sherry sweetness carries through, floral mid-palate, chocolate big pepper near the finish
This was the first proper tasting glass I ever bought and has been used in a number of my reviews. The ideal fill point is ~1 oz, which makes it a bit bigger than any of the previous glasses. The tulip shape is even more exaggerated than the Arran glass and it seems to do a very good job. I find it to be a good all-around tasting glass as it's big enough for some more extended dramming, but small enough that smaller pours aren't swallowed.
Nose: caramel-focused, a lot of alcohol, a hint of rye
Taste: sugary sweetness throughout, some musty oak and rye, a hint of chocolate
Nose: malty, a hint of sherry, leafy vegetables, slightly musty/dusty
Taste: brighter, more intense sweetness + lighter sherry, bitter chocolate/wood/oak and pepper near the back
This was another Goodwill find. While it's a classic design and works well for sherry, it doesn't seem to be ideal for whisk(e)y, especially in terms of the nose. Some of that may just be that it needs a heavier pour to work well, but I'm rarely drinking that much at once.
Nose: alcohol is prominent, light but balanced caramel, oak, and rye grain
Taste: caramel sweetness, light grain, oak, pepper, sweet/dusty near the back
Nose: hints of sherry and vegetal peat, very light sweetness, chocolate raisins, underlying malt
Taste: sharp acidic sweetness/sherry up front, malt, pepper, and peat further back, some chocolate
The glencairn glass is the standard for whisky tasting. It's ideal fill point is ~1.5 oz, which makes it significantly bigger than any other glass tested than the copita. It doesn't seem to work as well with small pours, so I'll stick to using it when I want a healthier dram.
While I won't draw too many firm conclusions, I'm willing to say that I think glassware does make a difference. I'd need to retest them in a random order to see if the trends are consistent, because my tastebuds may have been getting fatigued after half a dozen pours (however small they may have been). The biggest thing I'm willing to say is that if you want to do very close examinations of taste and smell, it's worthwhile to get different sizes of tulip-shaped glasses. You want to be able to pour to the widest part of the glass for maximum surface area (especially when nosing) and its likely there will be times when you want to drink more or less at a time.