When is a glass of whisky not a glass of whisky..?

I’D ordered a malt whisky as a nightcap. After we’d established that I didn’t want it diluting with tap water or ice, I was presented with the regulation measure in the bottom of a whisky glass labelled ‘Talisker’.

The glass rocked gently as it was placed on the top of the bar. “It’s got a round bottom and would topple over if it was full” said Mike Davison. I tried explaining the laws of physics and that the centre of gravity would still keep it upright, but wasn’t entirely sure that I was convincing myself, let alone Mike and the one or two bystanders propping up the bar and listening to the conversation.

“Let’s try it” someone said, and the barmaid enthusiastically agreed and offered to fill the glass with whisky. I was less sure that this was a good idea.

I needed to remain sober enough to finish writing this column when I got home. I also had a suspicion that I’d be expected to pay for the whisky used in the experiment and couldn’t afford the second mortgage which would be required to cover the cost.

I experimented gingerly with the small amount of whisky in the glass. Even tilting the glass at an angle of 45 degrees, the glass always sprung back to a vertical position without spilling any of the liquid gold which it contained.

Whilst I was doing this, one of the other people standing at the bar, took advantage of the temporary lull in the conversation and offered to show us a parlour trick – or it might even have been called a bar trick.

He had to borrow a penny and this was reluctantly offered by someone who obviously didn’t expect to get it back. An empty wine glass was borrowed and placed on top of the bar with a beer mat on top of that.

A pack of cigarettes was produced and the next part of setting up the trick involved trying to stand a cigarette vertically on top of the beer mat. This was difficult as most of the cigs appeared to be slightly squashed and reluctant to stand to attention. Having at last succeeded with one of them, the next task was to balance the penny on top of the pile and this proved impossible. “At least tell us what the trick is supposed to do” we said as he gave up.

The trick was to try to get the penny into the glass without touching the glass, beer mat and cigarette piled beneath it. He wouldn’t tell us how it was to be done and couldn’t demonstrate it. Maybe we’ll find out on another day – but Mike had suspicions that it would involve blowing on the beer mat. Is there anyone else who knows this trick and is able to demonstrate it?

When I went back to my table to re-join John Tatterton, Bill Gray, Ian Leadley, Jack Brook, Alan Drinkall and one or two others, they had also bought glasses of whisky; some of which were of the rocking variety. “The glasses are round bottomed because they’re tumblers” said Ian. It sounded a sensible explanation, but alas, it is wrong.

Dictionaries describe a tumbler as being a flat-bottomed glass. These were round.

The glasses were actually quite attractive and I wondered if they were on sale anywhere. They’re available on eBay as ‘Talisker Rocking Whisky Glasses’ at £7 each plus postage and packing. The internet also provided the explanation that they were specially made for a promotional offer two years ago and were given to customers who ordered two measures of Talisker during one visit to a pub taking part in the promotion.

I might buy some; but it probably makes more sense to use the ones at the pub and save my money to buy the whisky to go in them.