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Water in your whisky?

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@bourbondrinker
bourbondrinker started a discussion

I've dropped ice years ago, and ever since I experimented with adding water (tiny amounts). Higher vol whiskies are better neat .... What do you think?

11 years ago

29 replies

@Chookster
Chookster replied

No matter the alc.vol i like to add at least a drop of water to see if anything changes.

I actually have another question to add to this discussion; has anyone ever noticed a significant change in flavour or smell profile of a whisky between adding a little bit, and a lot of water? Is there such thing as adding too little an amount of water to the point where it can do essentially nothing but slightly reduce the abv?

11 years ago 0

@FMichael
FMichael replied

In most cases I don't add any water to my whisky...

Now with that said - I've been "humbled" by 2 particular culprits in which a "dash" of H2O was needed to help clarify/distinguish the flavours that I wasn't getting while consumed neat (also - truth be told - I needed a tad bit of heat taken off).

The 2 whiskies mentioned above was the Glenmorangie Astar, and the Aberlour A'Bunadh.

11 years ago 0

@PMessinger
PMessinger replied

I always try a dram neat to start and then add a small amount of water. The whisky that I found in my non expert opinion is the Dalmore 12, neat it's good with water it's awesome totaly different whisky, and a good example of the effects of water in opening up whisky. :)

11 years ago 0

@GotOak91
GotOak91 replied

I usually try my whiskies neat first then if I believe it would be nicer with it or I find overwhelming evidence that its better with a tablespoon of water I try it that way too.

11 years ago 0

@Abunadhman
Abunadhman replied

With a new (to me) Whisky I do this - 1. Take a very small sip of your best water / pure rain, then take a small sip of the neat Whisky and marry the rain/whisky in the mouth: You will be amazed at the explosion of flavor!

  1. Take a neat sip of the Whisky, do your normal taste / rinse / gargle / bubble (whatever) and see which is the more pleasant experience.

This way your neat Whisky is still intact and you can make an informed decision as to whether to water or not! More often than not the water will win especially with higher ABV. This is a wonderful way to approach new Whiskies and, I must confess, straight out of the Richard Patterson 'How to Taste Whisky' manual.

Slainte!

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

jnaks replied

Interesting...I'll take this and give it a try. Definitely could see where A'Bunadh could change with a dash of water...the cask strength is definitely powerful.

11 years ago 0

@Max
Max replied

I usually try new whisky neat, then add a drop of water to see what happens. But it's just a tradition and curiosity. I've yet to find a whisky that I like more with water added then without it. Even CS. I believe master blenders do better job than me.

11 years ago 0

@Abunadhman
Abunadhman replied

...correction to detail: It was Robert Hicks who proposed marrying Whisky and water in the mouth - Robert is the Master Blender at Laphroaig and is quite a character.

11 years ago 0

bennibarrel replied

yes, a drop or two of water (not more) opens the whisky. but some whiskies, mostly bourbons in my opinion, dont like water at all.

11 years ago 0

@bourbondrinker

@Chookster You can drown a whisky for sure with a lot of water, but managing to add a wee mini drop and keep the whisky unchanged I don't think so.

11 years ago 0

@bourbondrinker

@A'bunadhman I'll try that tomorrow & come back to you.

11 years ago 0

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh replied

Generally I won't add water to a whisky, even high abvs, unless I'm bored, or someone has informed me that I'll be really surprised with how the whisky opens up. That being said I maintain a bottle of filtered bottle water, unopened, just to the side of my desk so that I'm ready for whatever whisky might strike my water fancy.

11 years ago 0

@MCM
MCM replied

My Yamazaki really "opens up" with a dash of water, but I still take the first few sips without.

I would also have to agree with @bennibarrel that the water I've added to bourbons doesn't do much/ possibly detracts.

Maybe we need a section in reviews to recommend if and how much water to add?

11 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG replied

I like to add a 1 to 3 drops of Pepsi Cola with a pipette.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh replied

@NilsG Hahaha love it! I have much respect for you my friend for coming out with that :D

11 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG replied

@SquidgyAsh hahaha, now I actually feel like I should try it. Just to find out just how much one single drop of cola can ruin a dram.

11 years ago 0

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh replied

@NilsG You made me laugh so much when I read that, now you're making me laugh some more!!

11 years ago 0

@Abunadhman
Abunadhman replied

With a'bunadh and other high ABV. drams, I've found that not only adding the right amount of water, be it a few drops or in the case of Laga, and Springbank etc. Cask or a couple of small teaspoons in a generous measure of a'bunadh, but giving time for the Whisky / water to marry is important.

Whisky with added water needs to be set aside for some time before tasting. Personally, I coat the inside of the glass with a gentle swirl & tilt, put a lid on and set it aside for 1/2 hr. (or so). &, yes I can taste the difference!

Slainte.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Onibubba
Onibubba replied

I'm firmly with the no water added crowd. It just doesn't do much for me. That said, I do drink quite a bit of water when I drink whisky. As a palate cleanser, and, if I am drinking a lot - more than 5 or 6 pours - to keep hydrated.

I understand that it is supposed to "open" a whisky up, but I just have not experienced that yet.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

numen replied

Sometimes. When I'm first tasting a higher proof spirit, I'll usually go at it neat, but have some water nearby. I usually then add a few drops of water and give it time to marry, and compare the spirit after that. Sometimes harsh elements are smoothed out, other times the water brings out too much wood or weakens the spirit too much. Yet, there are some high proof spirits to which I just won't add water (brandy doesn't take it well), often because I've just fallen into a happy place with the spirit as is and drink it all before I could even think of adding water.

There's no right or wrong answer, really -- whatever makes the liquid taste better and increases your enjoyment. For instance, I like my bottle of Stagg, but it really needs water, or else it's just too tightly wound for me.

11 years ago 0

@Bourbondork
Bourbondork replied

Each whiskey is different and handles water different. Barrel proof I'll drink neat but also take it down in small increments to see how it changes. Some whiskey's can actually get worse with water. Lower proof stuff, say 110pf or lower, I leave as is.

Also, when I say barrel proof, that doesn't necessarily mean high proof...I have some cask strength that came out of the barrel sub 100.

11 years ago 0

@bourbondrinker

@Onibubba Drinking a lot of water with your whisky is a good trick, I do that too.

11 years ago 2Who liked this?

FederalNate replied

I'm firmly in the "add water" camp. I'm also firmly between the "1-2 drops" and "3-4" teaspoons camps as well. I find the aroma and flavor of alcohol to generally obscure much of the flavor of a spirit. That said there's no rule of thumb for which ones I add water to, I've had whiskies that drink fine neat at 63%, and I've added water to those bottled at a mere 40%. I tend to run my sink on the thinnest stream of cool water and wave my glass quickly beneath it, and that usually does the trick.

11 years ago 0

@FMichael
FMichael replied

@Onibubba I too have a few large glasses of water whenever I'm enjoying a whisky.

11 years ago 0

@NVGeo
NVGeo replied

Here is a very interesting article that gets into the adding water issue quite a bit.

rsc.org/chemistryworld/Issues/…

It is long, but there are some surprising facts toward the end in the section "How to drink whiskey." You could easily jump down to that if you don't want to read the whole article. Tells a bit about what water actually does within whisky.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@OCeallaigh
OCeallaigh replied

I always TRY every whisky with water, but usually I don't use it.

There are a few drams I do prefer with a bit of water though, and some moods I'm in where water really does it for me, but for the most part, I take my whisky neat.

11 years ago 0

@cheeserandyburg

My rule of thumb is always to try a newly acquired whisky neat. No water. Then I nose that baby for several minutes letting it air out as well. Then after the initial tasting and having it for a bit, I get the water out. The differences are much more notable this way. Personally, I see no point in drinking a whisky at a higher strength without water. You're just drenching your taste buds with pure alcohol for the most part. Water really opens up some whisky's and seems to bring out the sweetness (or peat in some cases) in most that I've tasted. In addition, every day is different. So some days i'll enjoy Talisker neat, and others with a few drops of water.

11 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG replied

@NVGeo thanks, that was a very good read! Now I know why I don't like water in my Islay whiskies, but often like it with sweater non-smoky/peaty ones.

11 years ago 0

@PMessinger
PMessinger replied

@NVGeo Awesome contribution to this discussion thread. Thanks :)

11 years ago 0