- Jan. 29, 2019
-- Christine Crnek, CEO of Arsilica, Inc. stated, "Fifty years ago, scotch, whiskeys, 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 anesthetic which quickly hinders aroma detection and appreciation. It's been under our noses all along, yet no one noticed."Background:
Since the 1960s the industry supported tulips and derivative shapes originating from a copita, designed for 20% ABV (alcohol by volume) sherry. Tulips have become the iconic identity and hallmark for straight spirits drinkers. Spirits are bottled at 40% ABV and tall, narrow tulips concentrate over-abundant ethanol masking key flavor characteristics.Research:
In a simple AB preference test, 98% of females preferred an open-rim, engineered nosing vessel which diverts ethanol (A), over the tulip which concentrates ethanol (B). Also, 30% of females refused testing, averse to olfactory pain from tulips. Among males, 87% preferred (A), none experienced olfactory pain. The conclusion: Diverting ethanol ensures more comfortable drinking experiences. Download report: https://www.mdpi.com/2306-5710/4/4/93
.Proposal – Modify Social Position:
The industry has a golden opportunity to balance gender participation and much to gain from expanding straight spirits markets to include more sensitive female noses. As a bonus, males with more sensitive noses will participate. Modifying social stance requires no investment, and there are many areas for improvement. Consider:
- More female blenders, educators, marketers and brand representatives put female noses to work
- Take gender diversity and inclusion seriously at the senior level by adopting specific objectives
- Discourage cliquish, elitist behavior at consumer spirits events to promote female participation
- More female judges in spirits competitions reduces variability with benefits of more sensitive female noses
- Incorporate unconscious bias third-party training at all levels
- Replace biased tasting methods with science-based gender-neutral education regarding nosing and evaluating.
- Abandon support for tulip vessels as an industry icon, which exclude sensitive female noses, and release the industry from counter-productive courtship of an outdated icon which desensitizes sensory experiences for both genders
Everyone has the right and privilege to use their vessel of choice, but supporting science-based education empowers the consumer with knowledge to choose wisely and contributes to raising spirits' quality bar. An inclusive, community-based, gender-neutral social stance benefits the spirits industry and consumers, and more females will enjoy straight spirits without social pressures forcing an unwanted choice between identifying with a male dominated drinking societies and improving drinking enjoyment, opening the door to expanding markets.