Who Are These Whiskey Drinkers?

The times they are a’ changing, and fast.  AI(artificial intelligence) is quickly becoming a popular conversation topic along with much speculation and misunderstanding about exactly what AI is and its usefulness.  Commonly used AI software is not yet truly intelligent (generating its own ideas independently), but as a powerful software coupled with intensive, deep scans of massive databanks, it is portrayed as a proven process for organizing cohesive thoughts.  To validate that claim we asked AI to answer a simple question.

Whiskey Drinkers: Insights from Food & Beverage Magazine

Background:  Development of our NEAT glass began in 2002 as the result of a mistake in a glassblowing class.  This large-rim-flared, mouthblown glass “mistake” was encountered first while retrieving previously used tulip glasses from the dishwasher to sample a newly released cask-strength scotch.  Deciding to try the “mistake,” we poured, sniffed, and discovered a remarkable absence of characteristic, overpowering, pungent ethanol, and only slight traces of ethanol at the rim edge.  Amazed, we retrieved our tulips and compared side-by-side; the Aha Moment!  Glass shape controls aroma profiles in a way that seriously challenges the way the world enjoys spirits.
Data Compilation:  We formed Arsilica in 2002, dedicated to researching spirit evaluation methodology, and we conducted many A-B comparison tests to construct profiles of whiskey drinkers through their preferences, comments, and opinions.  NEAT was released as a well-researched, refined, patented, manufactured product in 2012, and our findings were released in 2018 in a peer-reviewed beverage journal paper which validated our scientific approach and presented the collected data.
Two Whiskey Drinkers:    A decade later, re-examining the early collected comments, we discovered an important trend which split most whiskey drinkers (and other spirits drinkers) into two diverse attitudes toward ethanol and spirits which we will call casual whiskey drinkers, CWD, and serious whiskey drinkers, SWD.  The concept may be obvious to many, but we are nerdy researchers who rely on scientific method.  Consulting outside help, we asked AI’s ChatGTP  “What are the major differences between casual and serious whiskey drinkers in 200 words?” The result:

Casual Whiskey Drinkers vs. Serious Connoisseurs: Contrasting Approaches

  • Knowledge and Exploration:  Casual whiskey drinkers have a limited understanding of whiskey types and may stick to well-known brands. Serious connoisseurs, however, invest time in studying production methods, regions, and distilleries. They seek out rare expressions, appreciate the nuances, and expand their whiskey knowledge continuously.
  • Tasting Experience:  Casual drinkers may enjoy whiskey for its flavors, often mixing it or consuming it casually. Serious connoisseurs view whiskey tasting as a sensory experience. They analyze the appearance, aromas, mouthfeel, and finish. They use specialized glasses, follow a structured evaluation process, and even keep tasting journals to record their observations.
  • Collection and Investment:  Casual drinkers purchase whiskey for immediate consumption, while serious connoisseurs build curated collections. They invest in limited editions, aged releases, and discontinued bottles. Whiskey becomes both an indulgence and a potential investment, with serious connoisseurs actively tracking the market and participating in auctions.
  • Community Engagement:  Serious connoisseurs engage more actively in whiskey communities, attending events, participating in forums, and visiting distilleries. Casual drinkers, while appreciative of whiskey, may not seek out such communities or engage extensively in discussions.

Conclusion:  While both casual drinkers and serious connoisseurs enjoy whiskey, the differences lie in their depth of knowledge, tasting experience, collection preferences, and community engagement. Serious connoisseurs are passionate about expanding their understanding, savoring the complexities, and building curated collections. Whiskey, for them, is not just a beverage but a journey of exploration and refinement.

This AI response is unedited and powerful, and we couldn’t have said it better.  ChatGPT warns against interpreting AI generated information as “set-in-stone,” and AI extracted information is trend, unsuitable for direct application to specific individuals.

Where Does NEAT Fit?  Mention of NEAT in whiskey circles sparks controversy yet NEAT needs no vindication as it performs a specific purpose; to unmask and free spirits’ hidden aromas from pungent ethanol so they can be better detected, identified, evaluated, and enjoyed.  NEAT has no competition since no other glass has a scientific function or purpose; it’s not about which glass, it’s about your nose and whether or not you want a simple tool to enhance personal experience and knowledge, subjects that concern SWDs

Putting AI to Use:  If you use NEAT, you are most likely a SWD.  Not all SWDs use NEAT.  CWDs are taught to use only tulips.   The story is the same for SDs of all distilled spirits and liqueurs.  Our mission is to improve awareness and educate spirits drinkers with useful, truthful information.  AI serves us well by defining and organizing the task.

Serious vs Casual Drinkers at  Tasting Events:  No one really wants to talk about this stuff, because, frankly, it’s embarrassing.  We have intently studied the reactions of drinkers at whiskey events.  For the most part they approach a brand booth, examine the sample labels available, and request a specific pour.  What’s behind the choice?

Casual drinkers can be further divided into four major types.  Almost always after the first sniff, a smile, a nod of approval, and a taste.  Was the whiff of pungent ethanol the major motivator for the taste?  For sure, the subtleties of flavors and aromas are barely recognizable through the ethanol.

  1. The most common choice is highest ABV or cask strength using the following faulty logic:  The higher the ABV, the more costly, and therefore the best value.
  2. The second type looks for the oldest expression using the faulty logic that older is better, and better costs more.
  3. The third type of casual drinker loves the label and is looking for justification to purchase.
  4. The fourth type is on an ego trip and has to be able to say “I was first to taste that,” or “I have an opinion on that new release,” or they collect new releases to show off, or any number of other ego-feeding reasons.

Serious drinkers can be further divided into three major types

  1. They may or may not examine the labels first, but then they ask “What’s special about this one?” or “Explain the barrel choices,” or “What was the inspiration to do it that way?”
  2. They then ask to taste the ones that they feel will best suit their educated pallets to determine if it is collectable
  3. They choose to taste to experience, test, and quantify the final effects of the special treatment described to them

Sure, there are a lot more descriptors than those listed, but the point is the vast majority of event traffic seeks a high or a buzz from the ethanol, a justification of their attendance dollars spent, or a justification which proves their faulty value logic.  Alcohol alone seems to be the quest, and standing at the exit near the end of the event listening to comments is a telling experience.  Additionally, the strong smell of barf near the end of the event reveals the nature of the participants.

Serious vs Casual Drinkers at the Liquor Store:  Casual drinkers pick the outstanding labels or their favorite store’s new barrel pick and immediately look for the ABV, then the price to justify purchase, with a final lookup on the internet to verify the going price. Serious drinkers seek newer or exclusive releases, read notes from reviewers they trust, and may purchase because a close aficionado friend whose recommendations they trust said to try it.  Most serious drinkers share and discuss with and listen to like minds who have the same curiosity and considerations about whiskey.  Serious whiskey drinkers also check prices on the internet.

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Posing the Question No one Wants to Answer:  No need to throw stones at CWDs.  Everyone we know, including us, started as CWDs.  Self-examination and awareness of which one you are, is key.  Get serious and realize early on that it is not about the ethanol, but it is about a deeper subject with a perpetual learning curve.  The love of whiskey which is actually the love of ethanol is the doorway to a much darker room.  Could decades of drinking high ABV spirits from tiny rim glasses which concentrate strong, pungent, nose-numbing, anesthetic ethanol right up front into the nose have changed drinkers expectations to those which accept and endorse the characteristics of high ethanol over flavor, complexity, craft and enjoyment?  Surely the industry is capable of  teaching a more satisfying, realistic and beneficial approach.