Have you ever put your nose into a glass of scotch and your first thought was “This doesn’t smell like anything at all?” You may have the wrong type of glass, as I outlined in my scotch glass test. The more likely cause is that chemicals remaining from when the glass was cleaned are robbing your drink from effectively releasing its natural scent. This is especially true if your glass is made from crystal, which has a rougher surface than glass which easier traps chemicals from cleaning. In this article I will teach you everything about cleaning your glasses. Maybe after your done, you’ll use some of these cleaning tips on your bachelor pad too.
I don’t want to get too deep into the chemistry of aroma particles and soap chemicals interacting, but instead go from my own experience tasting from different glassware as well as what I’ve heard from professionals. I first heard about washing crystal without soap from a Riedel crystal rep, who gave me a pamphlet outlining the hazards of using soap. Most soaps contain fats and glycerin which are designed to create suds and bind to oils, washing them away in the process. These same compounds also cling to glass and crystal, then react with aroma compounds when liquids such as scotch come into contact with them. Hence the dead aroma in the glass. If washing glasses without soap raises a concern about contaminated glassware not being clean enough, keep in mind whisky is a natural disinfectant as is steam. If you feel some soap is necessary use a very mild solution containing liquid soap meant for automatic dishwashers. These products contain less sud producing compounds and may be safer (some merely have sud neutralizers which compound the soap problem).
Riedel recommends a multi-stage process for cleaning their crystal stemware which certainly applies to other crystal glasses, like for example the Glencairn Glass.
Wash under warm water, detergent is not necessary
Place on linen to drain for the time being
For extra shine, steam over boiling water
To polish use 2 microfibre crystal towels
Hold glass by base and polish
Use left hand to cradle the bowl and polish with your right hand
Of course this process is about as pretentious as you’d expect from a bestselling luxury wineglass company. For my own glasses I use a modified version that has more practicality. I rinse the glasses in the hottest water I can withstand, while scrubbing the inside and rim of the glass with my (clean) fingers. Then I hold the base and rinse thoroughly with even hotter water. I then set the glasses to dry on a rack. If I am serving guests, I will follow up with a quick steaming from a kettle and polish with a paper towel.