You Can Lead A Scotch To Water.

June 6, 2020

If you ever find yourself around self-described Scotch snobs, ask them their thoughts on adding water to their favorite whiskey. If they say they would NEVER, then chances are these aren’t the experts they pretend to be.

Because according to science, adding water to whiskey really does make it taste better. There are two competing theories for why this is. And remember, these are super simplified but they’ll give you the general idea. The first suggests that adding water traps compounds that are unpleasant in whiskey.

The second (and more widely accepted) is that water releases molecules that improve flavor, specifically the aromatic compound guaiacol that gives whiskey that smoky, spicy, peaty flavor. Guaiacol gets trapped in ethanol clusters in the whiskey. The water can break that bond and release the guaiacol, that great whiskey smell, and make the drink taste that much better.

Some bourbon experts even go so far as to say you should mix in the same amount of water as you have bourbon because bourbon is so robust you won’t lose any of the essential flavor structure of the spirit.

But at the end of the day drink your whiskey however you prefer it. But while you think drinking cask strength whiskey makes you cool and tough and authentic, you’re most definitely missing out on the flavors that make whiskey worth drinking simply by adding a drop or two of water.