Water is not a new component in the manufacturing of because one of the main ingredients in any whiskey is water which is critical in the distillation process all whiskey brands try to balance chosen flavors, ethanol, and H2O when making a fine whiskey. Should you add water to whiskey?
Adding the right amount of H2O to whiskey can boost the concentration of flavor compound molecules at the drink’s surface, reduce the burn & allow other properties to reveal themselves, bringing more aromatics to your nose as you sip increasing your tongue’s taste sensation for a better experience.
Some people like their Whiskey Neat or maybe over a few cubes but why add water to a perfectly fine spirit? Read the article for some interesting viewpoints on Adding Water to Whiskey.
Why Add Water to Whisky
Whiskey and bourbon in particular can be as much as 60% water. Distillers use the water from their source as they prepare the mash and for other purposes as they make their distillate. They also use their water to proof down their products prior to bottling.
Stepping down the proof of a whiskey not only stretches the availability, but the addition of small amounts of water helps achieve different flavor profiles that are hidden in the burn of the higher-proof whiskey.
Before a whiskey is bottled and long before it is poured into your glass, the drink is introduced to water during numerous phases of its production process. From the process of Steeping the barley to initiate germination a very important part of the pre-fermentation stage for many whiskeys that use malted barley and mashing, to fermentation and proofing.
Using quality water in whiskey is very important in making the best process. This is done is to making a grain infusion, similar to a pot of tea, by holding the grain in the water between 160° and 175° F for 20 to 30 minutes.
Whether you add the water with an eyedropper or add the water with a splash into the whiskey can make a difference. Slashing the water will disturb the evenly distributed molecules or molecules settled in your whiskey’s glass disturbing the contents that also bring benefits and different results.
The Science of Adding Water to Whiskey
Adding too much water can dilute down and adding just the right amount may reduce the burn and allows other properties in the whiskey to reveal themselves. But there’s also something significant happening on a molecular level. There is a science to it adding water to Whiskey frees up more of the aroma molecules to evaporate into the taster’s nose.
There is much to be discovered when a small amount of water is added to a fine spirit. Some tasters preferred the addition of 2 teaspoons which diluted the alcohol from 80 proof to 65 proof, allowing flavors such as vanilla, apple, and pear to really come to the forefront actually improving the experience.
Researchers found that when water is added to a whiskey, the guaiacol molecules make their way to the top of the glass rather than remaining evenly distributed throughout. That means you’re getting more of that smell and taste up front when you take a sip. Guaiacol is the stuff that gives something like scotch whisky a smoky smell and taste.
Remember ealier mentioned a few drops of water won’t drastically affect the proof of a fine spirit. Using this example of a one and a half ounce pour and two drops of water (that is about 0.0043 fl. oz.) and calculations using a whiskey of 120 proof, the proof of the altered pour works out to be about 119.65 Not too far off from the bottle proof. The formula for this calculation is:
Some molecules might have a slight reaction with water and stay with it in the glass, whereas some might come out from the glass when they repel in the form of aroma, giving out a pleasing smell of the flavors.
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References: Whiskey For the Ages-Water In Your Whiskey?