Villeroy & Boch and 12 Bottle Bar are giving away a set of Villeroy & Boch’s Gourmet Whisky glasses – just in time for Father’s Day. See below for details on how to enter.
When the company that makes the dishware for the Pope offers to send you some products for review, you respond in the affirmative. At least, we do. Over the past few months, we’d had requests to review lots of liquor, bar products, and even iPhone apps, but it wasn’t until Villeroy & Boch knocked on our door that we decided to invite these free samples in. Sure, we reviewed Whiskey Stones awhile back, but Lars bought those himself because he was intrigued by their prospect. Not so with the Gourmet Whiskey Collection glasses we received last month from Villeroy & Boch – these were free samples for us to take for a swirl. Excellent – and here at last, was a product that complimented the whole 12 Bottle Bar philosophy quite nicely: elegant, classic, and affordable.
Founded in 1748, when “Bombardier du Roi” (maker of royal cannons) Francois Boch and his sons decided to move from iron work to ceramic, the Boch family quickly became European “Manufacture Impériale et Royale”. By 1770, Boch crockery was popular around the world, and in 1809, the company relocated to the former Benedictine abbey on the River Saar which continues to serve as its headquarters today. It was grandson Jean-Francois Boch who, in 1829, created a real revolution for the company with his discovery of a way to make inexpensive earthenware that mimiced the brightness and hardness of expensive porcelain – a discovery which lead not only to numerous accolades but also to a vastly expanded market. Those growing markets demanded new strategies, and in 1836 Boch merged with the rival Villeroy company, setting the stage for the company’s future.
In 1843, glassware had been introduced to compliment the ceramics and to offer a “full range” for customers, and by the 1870s, Villeroy & Boch had become one of the world’s leading manufacturers in all manner of ceramics – from flooring and decorative tiles to sanitary items, such as washing vessels, many of which of which were produced for the royal families of Europe. Even to this day, all across Europe, royal palaces, theaters, hotels, banks, swimming pools, hospitals, and more have been built using Villeory & Boch products. New York’s Holland Tunnel was constructed using 10,000 square meters of the company’s tiles. It’s Mettlach tiles decorated the Titanic. And, of course, let’s not forget the official crockery of the Popes.
Just like all of the spirits and most of the drinks we feature here on 12BB, any product from Villeroy & Boch certainly has a wonderful pedigree. But while pedigree alone will get you invited in the door, it doesn’t mean you’ll be asked to stay for dinner – which meant that we were going to have to put the Gourmet Whisky glasses through their paces. Now, there are a couple of things we look for in glassware around here: namely, construction and functionality. While those terms may seem like we’re going to break out the tape measures and start talking about manufacturing processes, it’s really a lot more basic than that.
First, construction. Is the glass well made, and does it feel like it? I used to hate going into Cheesecake Factory restaurants because they used these ultra-light plastic beer steins that looked like glass. Inevitably, I would be chatting with my dining companions while reaching for my glass – my brain sending signals on how much force I’d need to lift the thing, all of which were built upon false assumptions – and I’d nearly throw the drink in my own face. Obviously, I exaggerate, but the perception my mind made was an incorrect one. The point here is that a when you look at a glass, you make a judgment as to how it will feel in your hand. Will it be heavy or light, thick or delicate? When you pick up the glass, it should affirm those assumptions.
Given that all of the Gourmet Whisky glasses are handmade crystal, you’re certainly getting a quality product. The Single Malt goblet and Single Grain tumbler both have the appeal of fine wine glasses – delicate but sturdy enough for regular use. Over the years, we’ve lost so much Riedel crystal due to its extreme fragility that we appreciate glassware with a slight more body to it. The other style sent to us was the Canadian Whisky tumbler, which is the closest thing the line offers to a Collins glass. Here, the heavy bottom gives the glass the kind of substantial heft we like for sipping a couple of fingers of Scotch. The only misgiving we have with the design of this glass is the somewhat rounded bottom. Although it rests perfectly flat, I found my brain not trusting it – afraid that it would tip over at any minute. One final point on the construction: the crystal used in all of the glasses is beautifully clear, without any of the gray/silver qualities found in ordinary glass. It certainly allows for the beauty of each drink to shine through.
As for functionality, the two Scotch glasses – the Single Malt goblet and the Single Grain tumbler – perform their anointed tasks with aplomb. Just as with fine wine glasses, the tall tulip bowls have been designed to allow spirit within to breathe while the narrow openings fit snugly around your nose, forming a trap for all those ethereal aromas. From the photos, it should be readily apparent that the goblet can easily double for a wine glass, and the 16 ounce volume of the tumbler gives you plenty of room for just about any drink – with or without ice, straight pour or mixed. If you saw the Monticello Cocktail that we did last November for the POM Wonderful contest, you know that these are shapes which we love – elegant yet simple enough that they’ll suit pretty much whatever you put in them.
The Canadian Whisky tumbler, on the other hand, is a bit of an odd duck. At 8.5 ounces, it’s a little small for anyone one who likes a good deal of soda and some ice in their highball. Villeroy & Boch’s best alternative in the collection is the Straight Bourbon tumbler, which supports a nice 11 ounces but which appears to be a bit too wide for a proper Collins. We like supermodel styling here – tall and thin. That said, I love the weight of the glass and its modern styling (aside from the rounded base). If you’re happen to be a fellow blogger, it also photographs beautifully.
Overall, the Gourmet Whisky collection is a real winner. The designs are timeless, the crystal is mouth-blown, and the price is just $35 for a set of two. To sweeten the deal for Father’s Day, Villeroy & Boch is offering 20% off (coupon code “villeroysummer”) and, through Jun 9th, free shipping. I’m positive that your father – or mother – would be more than pleased to be gifted any of these glasses; I’m certainly enjoying mine, which you’ll continue to see on the blog for some time to come.
As an extra incentive to get you to try the glasses, Villeroy & Boch have given us a set to share with you. And you get to choose from the three styles shown above. We’ll be taking entries all week and will pick the winner next Monday, June 13th. Here’s how to enter:
- Reside in the United States or Canada.
- Leave a comment on this post, indicating which of the three sets you would like (Canadian, Single Grain, or Single Malt). Be sure to enter your correct email address where prompted – it’s how we’ll be contacting you.
- On June 13th, a random winner will be chosen from the comments left below, and the glasses will be shipped out as soon as possible.
Many thanks to the good folk at Villeroy & Boch for allowing us to review their new glasses and for sponsoring the drawing. Please check out their blog for more on the glasses, as well as great cocktail and entertaining ideas, and of course, their online store for lots of home products.