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Inside Manska’s Mind: Whiskey Drinkers Can Be Their Own Worst Enemy

We go inside the mind of George F. Manska for an analytical look at how whiskey drinkers can be their own worst enemy.

Recently we’ve refocused on a broader profile of the spirits/whiskey taster/drinker. As a sensory research company since 2002, we have noticed that the public’s predilection for alcohol, particularly among neat, straight whiskey drinkers, inevitably results in a lack of recognition of the very spirits they claim as their “favorites.”

Tasting blind (no knowledge of brand) from tulip glasses, few can pick their favorite among three samples. Once ethanol hits the nose, the vast majority couldn’t care less about the sensory subtleties of the spirit. Over time, they become “label-buyer-status-seekers,” pleased and satisfied by the intake of highly concentrated, pungent, anesthetic, nose-numbing ethanol of the spirit, making choices by rarity, influencers, or memorable advertising. We love the stuff, but on the nose, it gets in the way of our personal choices.

We asked ChatGTP4.0 “Where can this obsession with ethanol lead in 3-5 years?” Granted, AI isn’t intelligent to the point where it can creatively invent or discover the unknown (yet), but AI is privy to literally hundreds of thousands of writings and published viewpoints on any subject and quickly assimilates and distills voluminous information. Here is the surprising response, and one can easily recognize that some points are already becoming fact.

ChatGPT (unedited): The current trend in spirits tasting emphasizes high ethanol content, often facilitated by tulip-shaped glasses that concentrate aromas, including ethanol. This preference can overshadow the appreciation of a spirit’s nuanced aromas and flavors, focusing on the intensity of alcohol over its complex character. Such practices can mislead consumers into equating the prominence of alcohol warmth with quality, potentially limiting their ability to discern and appreciate the intricacies of different spirits.

Consumer Attitudes and Behaviors: This focus on ethanol strength over aromatic complexity can lead to several attitudes among consumers:

Key Consumer Attitudes and Emerging Behaviors

Intensity Over Complexity: A tendency to favor spirits with a stronger alcohol presence, potentially overlooking the intricate balance and depth of flavors.
Quality Misconception: The assumption that a stronger alcohol sensation signifies higher quality, ignoring the multifaceted nature of what actually constitutes quality in spirits.
Sensory Evaluation Challenges: The dominance of ethanol can impede the detection of delicate flavors and aromas, hindering a comprehensive sensory experience.
Future Directions: The emphasis on ethanol strength is likely to evolve over the next 3-5 years, influenced by several factors:
Shifting Preferences: As consumers become more informed, a shift towards spirits that balance alcohol with flavor complexity is expected. This reflects a growing appreciation for craftsmanship over mere intensity.
Innovation in Glassware: New designs in glassware may emerge, aimed at enhancing the sensory experience by mitigating ethanol’s overpowering effects while highlighting a spirit’s aromatic profile.
Educational Efforts: Increased efforts to educate consumers on tasting and appreciating spirits are anticipated, focusing on the importance of a holistic approach to evaluating spirits beyond ethanol impact.
Growth of Low-ABV Spirits: The market might witness a rise in lower-alcohol spirits that offer rich flavor profiles without the overpowering presence of ethanol, aligning with trends towards moderation and health consciousness.

In essence, the spirits industry and consumer preferences are on the cusp of significant change. The current focus on ethanol’s intensity is expected to give way to a deeper appreciation for the subtleties and craftsmanship in spirits production. Innovations in glassware, along with educational initiatives, are poised to guide consumers towards a more nuanced understanding and enjoyment of spirits. This evolution reflects a broader trend towards quality and sophistication in alcohol consumption, promising a future where balance, complexity, and craft take precedence over mere strength. (end of ChatGTP response).

Our Take: Here comes Arsilica, Inc., sensory research company since 2002, and inventor of the NEAT glass. Looks like we have been ahead of the curve all along and have a bright future. We are doing our part for the innovation and educational directions and have been doing so for well over two decades. However, in the end, success is predicated on the acceptance of the mission of true education by associations and brands, as well as the consumers’ inquisitive desire for deeper, truthful knowledge of spirits, and above all, a new, stronger reliance on one’s personal sensory to find those spirits which truly satisfy one’s tastes.

Do pungent ethanol aromas belong with the spirit for sensory diagnostics? Some say, “Sure, it’s part of the spirit.” We say NO, not if you want to smell anything else but ethanol. You can’t detect subtle aromas with a nose numbed by tulip-shaped ethanol nose-cannons. Once the spirit enters the oral cavity, you have the whole flavor enchilada; taste (5%), mouthfeel (5%), and retro-nasal olfactory (90%) through the pharyngeal opening in the back of the oral cavity. No need to blow out your nose ortho-nasally (first sniffs) and ruin the retro-nasal with overabundant ortho-nasal ethanol. Change glassware from a tulip concentrator to an ethanol dissipator.

Without industry associations such as ADI, ACSA, WSWA and huge brand collectives such as Constellation, Diageo, and ABInBev getting onboard the education train, change will take much longer. The wine and beer industries are taking note, but the spirits consumers who need it are lost in the ethanol fog of numbed senses, relying on others’ opinions, following the “gurus,” and above all mistakenly associating higher ethanol, higher price, and smaller production volume with quality. We can’t be taught if we refuse to learn and continue to let irrational assumptions guide purchasing decisions. We need to drink and know things.
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About George Manska

George is an entrepreneur, inventor, engine designer, founder, Chief R&D officer, Corporate Strategy Officer, CEO Arsilica, Inc. dedicated to sensory research in alcohol beverages. (2002-present). He is the inventor of the patented NEAT glass, several other patented alcohol beverage glasses for beer and wine, (yet to be released). Director ongoing research into aromatic compound behavior, and pinpointing onset of nose-blindness. George is a professional consultant for several major spirits competitions, has been published in the MDPI Beverage Journal Paper, is the founder or member of over seven different wine clubs for the past fifty years, is a collector of wines and spirits, has traveled the world, and is an educator and advisor of multiple spirits sensory seminars.

George F Manska, CR&D, Arsilica, Inc.  Engineer, inventor of the NEAT glass, sensory science researcher, entrepreneur.

Mission: Replace myth and misinformation with scientific truth through consumer education.

Contact:, phone 702.332.7305. For more information:

The post Inside Manska’s Mind: Whiskey Drinkers Can Be Their Own Worst Enemy appeared first on Chilled Magazine.

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