By Alexander Lawrie
SCOTLAND’S ‘Official Whisky Glass’ makers are celebrating after selling their 5 millionth glass.
Glencairn Crystal – who supplies the Royal Family with their cut-glass crystal – has smashed all sales expectations over the past six years.
The company behind the famous Glencairn Glass is to celebrate the sales landmark by introducing a brand new version of the iconic whisky glass.
And the family-run firm has also disclosed they have recently landed the prestigious contract to supply crystal to the QE2.
The new, innovative tumbler has been specifically designed to enhance the taste and enjoyment of Scotland’s national drink, as the tapered mouth of the glass allows ease of drinking, the wide bowl shows off the whisky’s colour and the base is designed to be easy on the hand.
And while the company has picked up a stream of awards for their glass design, which only uses the finest crystal in the manufacturing, they are refusing to “rest on their laurels”.
In recent years the company – who are the last remaining crystal suppliers in Scotland – has earned themselves the Scottish Marketing Award for Innovation, along with the more prestigious Queen’s Award for Innovation.
Scott Davidson, Glencairn’s Product Development Manager, said: “We had been selling the glass for a couple of years and discovered whisky companies were referring to it as the official whisky glass.
“Some of them told us they wouldn’t use anything else while tasting their whiskies, which was really nice to hear.
“The glass was designed with the help of Master Blenders from five of the largest whisky companies in the country. Their input was invaluable in the concept and the ultimate design of the glass.
“It is specifically designed to allow the aroma to build up and to keep the taste of the whisky consistent.
“Glencairn have been supplying the Royal household for the past 18 months, and we really hope we can be allowed to use the Royal crest as official suppliers in the very near future.”
The crystal company, which is based in East Kilbride, has been supplying prestigious companies such as Rolls Royce, Cunard and BP with personalised crystal glasses for over 20 years.
The new version of the glass is the same size and shape of the original, but uses lead free crystal to give a better clarity and a finer edge.
Along with the clean cut version, there are also limited editions available with engravings including a Scottish thistle, an Irish harp and the Welsh dragon.
The glass was originally developed by Glencairn Crystal managing director Raymond Davidson over 20 years ago, but the concept lay gathering dust until his sons discovered their father’s prototype in 2000.
The shape of the glass is derived from the traditional nosing copita used in whisky labs around Scotland, and the pioneering design was aided by Master Blenders from five of the largest whisky companies in world.
A presentation ceremony was held by the blenders in 2004 at the Fettercairn Distillery to officially acknowledge Mr Davidson for designing and developing the Glencairn Glass.
David Stewart, Master Blender with William Grant and Sons, said: “It’s great that Scotch whisky now has its own drinking glass at long last, and being a Whisky Blender this glass allows me to nose the whisky from this glass prior to drinking.”
John Ramsay, the Master Blender from Famous Grouse, said: “The Glencairn Glass is based on the nosing glass shape that most blenders use professionally.
“The shape combines the aroma and captures the attributes of the professional glass.
“The recent move to crystal has been a big improvement for me, because it takes the glass thickness down.”
And Whyte and Mackay’s Master Blender, Richard Paterson, added: “A very special drink needs a very special glass to fully appreciate it, and the design of the Glencairn Glass allows the drinker to experience malt whiskies the way they were meant to be experienced.
“Five million customers can’t be wrong.”
The glass first went into production in 2002, and since then it has been supplied almost exclusively to the whisky industry, with only a limited number of bars and restaurants being supplied.
Now with the introduction of the new glass the company is hoping to widen their target market.
Paul Davidson, Managing Director of Glencairn Crystal Studio, said: “Although the glass has been highly successful we did not want to sit back on our laurels, and through an extensive period of consultation we have improved the glass and the branding to allow it to sit alongside the most premium of malt whiskies.
“Working with a new manufacturing partner we have invested heavily with a view to establishing a global reputation for the glass as the choice for whisky drinkers everywhere.”
Scott Davidson said: “Our customers tell us the shape of the glass is iconic and memorable, and we are now hoping to take the concept and adapt it for the wider consumer market.
“Currently, 95 per cent of our trade is business to business, and the second phase of our development will be to introduce the glass to the consumer directly.”
John Hansell, the Publisher & Editor of Malt Advocate Magazine, said the Glencairn glass has the “perfect balance of elegance and masculinity”.
He added: “I don’t want a dainty drinking glass, but I also don’t want a glass that’s so thick and bulky that it keeps me too isolated from my whisky. The Glencairn Crystal Glass achieves the proper balance.”
By Alexander Lawrie