What image conveys old-school class and luxury better than an aged spirit served in an elegant crystal snifter?\r\n\r\nThe vision of a snifter implies connoisseurship. But while the de facto brandy glass remains an icon of drinking culture, a new selection of increasingly technical glassware has become the to-go for neat drinks. With such a wide range of modern options to choose from, we need to ask: Is the snifter\u2019s time up?\r\n\r\n\u201cThe snifter is obviously a point of reference whenever we develop a new glass\u2026it must never work as badly as a snifter.\u201d \u2014Maximilian Riedel\r\n\r\nLet\u2019s look at the design. Snifters have a wide base and narrow opening, which many believe overly-enhances alcohol on the nose. Even a quick sniff of the contents can cause your senses to instantly deteriorate\u2014a common concern for not only professional tasters, whose job is to notice aromatic details, but also for the casual drinker.\r\n\r\n\u201cA snifter is definitely the worst vessel, not only for Cognac, but for all other beverages,\u201d says Maximilian Riedel, president/CEO of Austrian glassware manufacturer Riedel Crystal.\r\n\r\nAlthough the majority of Riedel\u2019s glassware business is dedicated to wine, Maximilian is a big fan of barrel-aged Tequila and other spirits. It\u2019s why Riedel\u2019s range has expanded to include select glasses that enhance specific spirits, similar to style-specific wine glasses.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe snifter is obviously a point of reference whenever we develop a new glass\u2026it must never work as badly as a snifter,\u201d says Riedel.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nRiedel\u2019s solution was to design glasses the company says allows for alcohol to dissipate more quickly. For brandy, they went with a fluted lip and slightly curved glass in an effort to enhance the fruitiness of the spirit. That detail is repeated on the more cylindrical single-malt glass, featuring a short stem and dainty foot, shaped to allow fumes to lift away from the spirit and reveal subtler aromas of peaty Islay whisky.\r\n\r\nKeep in mind that professional tasters don\u2019t always drink for analysis. At home, master distiller John Little reaches for a Port glass when he wants to dig into something serious.\r\n\r\nWant to taste like a master distiller? John Little holds the title at West Virginia\u2019s Smooth Ambler, in addition to being one of the founders. In the distillery and tasting room, you\u2019ll find a Glencairn, a distinctive short glass composed of a spherical base and tapered cylindrical mouth. It is said to allow for the perception of both aroma and alcohol, the latter of which is important for assessments as a distiller.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nLittle says they are easily covered by watch-glass, a concave piece of circular glass that can be used as a lid to concentrate aroma.\r\n\r\nFor deeper analysis, Glencairn also produces a copita, which resembles a smaller white wine glass and was developed for laboratory-level tasting. The stem makes it more fragile than the standard Glencairn glass, and you\u2019re not likely to see it in many bars. However, many experts maintain it\u2019s the best option to inspect color, and its elongated bowl is great to introduce air to your spirit.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nKeep in mind that professional tasters don\u2019t always drink for analysis. At home, Little reaches for a Port glass when he wants to dig into something serious. It has a shape similar to a copita.\r\n\r\nAnd when he\u2019s having a burger? \u201cIt\u2019s usually just a rocks glass with Bourbon neat, or a Bourbon and ginger,\u201d Little says.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nCasual or upscale, the rocks glass (or tumbler) is the most used glass for spirits in bars and restaurants. The wide opening and sturdy base make it ideal for spirits on ice and cocktails. Its design won\u2019t provide insight into a rare dram, but they\u2019re solid and serviceable.\r\n\r\nWhile it may be time to retire the snifter for neat spirits, they still have use for cocktails. Snifters are increasingly popular with the tiki set for elaborate drinks on pebble ice, and they remain the traditional choice for a Spanish-style gin and tonic.\r\n\r\nAs for whiskey, brandy and other aged spirits, consider your purposes. There are times when the assessment of aroma, color and alcohol are paramount, but for everyday drinking? Ease of use, style and personal preference should come first.