Earlier this year, in April, I attended the Universal Whisky Experience in Las Vegas. Besides tasting the new, rare and old, attendees also had opportunities to take classes. In one of my classes two people sitting next to me pulled out their own tasting glasses – a stemless, fat rounded shape with a wide lip at the top – as opposed to using the Glencairn crystal glasses – wider at the bottom than the top, a tall tulip shape – the majority of us were given and used for evaluation.
I had seen a lot of aficionados bringing their own glassware at events, so this was of no surprise to me. But when we left the class one of them handed me a fresh clean glass as a gift, along with a one-page information sheet. I quickly learned that no less than 20 spirit competitions had adopted the Neat tasting glass and six of my spirit mentors loved them…it was definitely my turn to give it a whirl.
It’s taken me a few months to get around to trying out their glass. But what I read intrigued me: the reduction of alcohol burn on the nose and numbing, which could only increase the enjoyment of tasting. As I almost always add a dribble of water to a rare whisky or a large cube to an every day one, I don’t have the burning or numbing problem often. But I do at events. So, here goes, and onto my test.
Aromas from Neat vs. the Glencairn
Instructions from Neat: 1. Hold glass level, nose in center of “sweet spot” at rim level, and sniff. 2. Move nose to rim edge to detect diluted alcohol (less nose burn). 3. Breathe through nose (closed mouth), do not add water. Placing nose in neck will detect nose-numbing alcohol as in traditional glasses.
Bunnahabhain 12 YO
No water or ice added, got the definite usual nose burn as expected.
Bunnahabhain 12 YO
No nose burn – if done as indicated.
In case you are wondering, the aromas were pretty much the same for me in either glass – in this first test. While one testimony claimed that the Neat glass makes the aromas “enhancing” I could only agree as it masks the numbing alcohol agent. Another reviewer also found it to “enhance” in a food pairing, and again, I thought, heck ya, as the alcohol isn’t overwhelming the palate.
I also did have to agree with reviewers that found the glass to heighten the “purity” of any spirit, dissipating the “alcohol aroma to pick up subtleties in spirits like vodka” and I now looked forward to trying my Neat glass with different brands of vodkas, a spirit that is widely “enhanced” with many different flavors in many different cocktails. I had done a vodka tasting years ago, and many of my guests were only able to discern the amount of harshness in a vodka; it took a lot of tasting to finally get them to notice if there were other subtle flavor differences, which left me to wonder: How would my next vodka tasting go with these glasses? Something to ponder…for now I will do my pondering over the Bunnahabhain…in my Neat glass.
From the Website
In 2003, a simple glass blowing mistake created an amazing shape which displays the true expression of spirits, and launched a new, scientific approach to glass design, which we call Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology (NEAT).
Studying human olfactory physiology and applying physical and chemistry science, we unlocked the hidden dimensions of distilled spirits with a glass that enhances drinking pleasure, enjoyment, and diagnostics. Nine years, fifty two design revisions, hundreds of tastings and aroma profile studies developed NEAT, the perfect spirits glass.
Taste the Truth: Taste and aroma are true measures of a spirit’s quality. Alcohol burn numbs the nose and overwhelms the truth, spoiling your drinking experience. Neat eliminates nose burn and numbing, enhancing ability to detect, savor, and enjoy the subtle, wonderful aromas the distiller intended.
Science Drives Design, and Form Follows Function: NEAT was tested against other spirits glasses under controlled, uniform conditions by University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) Chemistry Department to verify results. Science built a better glass.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 15k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.