This one hurts. This one I take personally. The Spirits Business directs us to a 2018 study called “Applying Physics and Sensory Sciences to Spirits Nosing Vessel Design to Improve Evaluation Diagnostics and Drinking Enjoyment,” which finds, among other things, that tulip glasses are misogynist pieces of trash.
Here are all the caveats: First, yes, I know tulip glasses are not sentient. Second, the non-sentient glasses are not targeting me personally (it just feels that way). Third, and this one is real: This study was conducted by George F. Manska, who works in Research and Development for Arsilica, the company behind The Neat Glass. The Neat Glass is “the only spirits glass ever designed by science for the professional and serious spirits lover,” and is designed to replace the tulip glass in tasting environments. So, the call is coming from inside the house.
That said, numbers are numbers, and here’s what these numbers say: Participants in the study were asked to smell, not taste, the spirits in several glasses. Women have a heightened sense of smell, and thus pick up on the aroma of ethanol in alcohol more easily than men. As it happens, the rim of tulip glasses concentrates the ethanol at the nose. As a result, 30 percent of women straight-up refused to even sniff the spirits, being “averse to olfactory pain.” Of the men surveyed, “none experienced olfactory pain.”
NONE. NONE AT ALL. THE WORLD IS FULL OF GARBAGE AND NONSENSE AND EVEN GLASSES ARE MADE FOR DUDES. OLFACTORY PAIN? ARE YOU SERIOUSLY TELLING ME I CAN’T EVEN DRINK WHISKEY WITHOUT GETTING THE SHORT END OF THE STICK? I’M SITTING IN A ROOM THAT IS TO ME SUPER COLD AND ALL THE DUDES ARE IN T-SHIRTS AND I HAVE COCOONED MYSELF INSIDE A SCARF THAT’S THE SIZE OF FOUR SCARVES SO THAT I CAN SUCCESSFULLY WORK, AND THUS AM TYPING LIKE A T-REX WITH MY ELBOWS PINNED TO MY RIBS AND AT THE END OF THE DAY IF I WANT TO HAVE A NICE NIP OF WHISKEY IN A PRETTY GLASS I WILL EXPERIENCE OLFACTORY PAIN AND THE T-SHIRTS WILL BE TOTALLY FINE. WHAT THE HELL THIS IS NOT LIVING YES I KNOW THERE ARE BIGGER PROBLEMS BUT SERIOUSLY NOT EVEN GLASSWARE IS SAFE I QUIT THE FUCK
Thank you for your patience, I have returned. Allow me to re-cocoon myself and we’ll continue.
The study was conducted over 17 tasting events from 2010 to 2015, and those tested (per TSB) “comprised spirits industry executives, collectors and aficionados, spirits judges, bartenders, brand ambassadors, certified sommeliers, spirits distributors and buyers, competition and tasting organizers, and members of international spirits clubs,” as well as random attendees at various spirits events. Here’s how the Arsilica CEO, Christine Crnek, interprets the results:
“Fifty years ago, Scotch, whiskies, Tequilas and rum target markets were solidly male, and gender-neutral social norms were not a consideration.
“Our research uncovered a major reason for predominantly male participation and female exclusion among straight spirits drinkers: tulip glasses which concentrate painful nose-numbing ethanol.
“According to sensory science, females have far superior noses, and ethanol is an anaesthetic which quickly hinders aroma detection and appreciation. It’s been under our noses all along, yet no one noticed.”
I have some experience with this anecdotally—for example, drinking a high-ABV beer from a bottle is often unappealing to me, because the alcohol hits me right in the face before I can drink it. That doesn’t happen when drinking the same beer from the glass. The science behind it seems to be this (from the study): “Height restricts higher mass molecules from reaching vessel rims and detection. Lower vessel heights improve likelihood of higher mass aroma delivery. Gravity has some effect on aroma detection in tall, open container vessels.”
Here’s another fun anecdote: Generally, both men and women preferred not to smell ethanol when smelling the spirits, preferring to smell the good smells (who knew?) But of those who did want to smell the ethanol, nearly all of them men (12.9 percent versus 1.37 percent), “many commented that females seldom attended spirits drinking group activities.”
Fun. Real fun. Happy Tuesday.