Creating a glass designed for whiskey sipping might seem like an artistic endeavor. But George Manska, Chief of Research and Development for Arsilica, Inc. begs to differ. For George, it’s all about the science of nosing, tasting and evaluating spirits. And to properly do any of those things, you need a glass designed to enhance the experience.
In the NEAT Glass seminar held In Louisville, Kentucky at the inaugural ELEVATE CHILLED 100 event, George debunked longtime myths of tasting practices starting with the tongue map lie. “There’s no advantage to delivering a beverage to specific tongue areas,” says George. “Manufacturers tout the invalid tongue map to sell glassware in an industry that ignores science.”
George also pointed out that flavor is mostly aroma. Flavor equals 90% aroma, 5% taste and 5% mouth-feel. “We don’t taste raspberries, we smell raspberries, taste sweet and mouth-feel fuzzy, acidic raspberry,” he explains. “Those experiences reach the brain giving us the aha moment when we realize it’s raspberries.”
Considering that flavor is primarily comprised of aroma, a big factor that runs interference in our tasting experience is ethanol. Spirits have the highest concentration of alcohol and most contain around 40% ABV. With significantly high ABV, sniffing the spirits through traditional tulip style glasses masks several key items. George’s presentation focused on three principals: the ethanol raises aroma detection thresholds by masking subtle aromas, raises identification thresholds making aromas unidentifiable, and raises discrimination levels so that we can’t tell the aromas apart. Bottom line: sipping in the taller tulip glasses leads to nose numbing.
NEAT Glass used science to build a better glass, changing the way the world tastes spirits. Combining the best of other glasses, the new design is short and wide which promotes swirling and evaporation yet concentrates aromas. A divergent flared rim above the convergent rim creates a “neck” in the design which separates ethanol from character aromas. Traditional glass designs – including the tulip and the traditional Glencairn – have a narrow top opening which, when sniffed, deliver a whopping amount of ethanol directly into your nose. With the NEAT Glass, the outward-flaring rim minimizes the amount of ethanol allowing you to detect the true aromas of the spirit.
Most major spirits judging competitions choose NEAT as their official spirits judging glass. No more nose-numbing or pungent burn in the nostrils. Sensitive noses and professionals love NEAT. While science might not sound sexy, it works. This testimony by Anthony Dias Blue, Tasting Panel Magazine, San Francisco World Spirits Competition provides high praise for the NEAT glass design. “We have rigorously tested the NEAT glasses in comparative tasting with other spirits glasses. It is the only glass that eliminates alcohol burn while enhancing aroma. It showcases all the nuances and complexity the spirit producer intended. Simply the best spirits glass ever created!”