The Unique Origin Story Behind Neat Bourbon Glasses

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Intrigued, Manska realized he had stumbled upon a new dimension in whisky tasting, but he wasn’t sure exactly what it was. To get to the bottom of the matter, Manska enlisted glass-coating specialist Christine Crnek. Together, the two recruited Spencer Steinberg, a University of Las Vegas professor who specializes in environmental analytical chemistry, to help solve the mystery. In turn, Steinberg created tests to compare Manska’s Neat glass to existing barware. The goal was to determine if the unique shape of Manska’s (almost) throw-away art project changed the way a taster experienced bourbon.

“What I found was that because of the shape of (the Neat) glass, a drinker could actually get their nose closer to the surface of the whiskey and at a position where they were more likely to inhale fatty acid ethyl esters,” Steinberg told the University of Las Vegas News Center in 2012. In other words, the tulip-shaped rim of the glass funnels the aromatic burn of ethanol away from the nose, letting nuances of the bourbon shine.

It took a decade to get the uniquely shaped glass to market, and it’s still a rarity in bars and restaurants, but it’s made a definite impression in the world of the bourbon elite. It’s the judging glass of choice at more than three dozen international spirits contests annually, including San Francisco World Spirits where, according to a YouTube video shared by Neat Glass, competition judge Tim McDonald of Wine Spoken Here, once compared the Neat glass to the evolution of wine glasses in their various shapes and sizes.

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