Your Whiskey Really Does Taste Better With a Splash of Water
A new study supports what your bartender has been telling you all along.
A new study proves that diluting your whiskey with water makes it more flavorful, especially if it is Scotch.
The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, explains that the reason is an armoitc oil that gives the liquor its signature smoky flavor called guaiacol. Popular Science says that guaiacol is present in wood creosote. Why is this important?
Distillers create a mash, or a fermented alcohol solution from a mixture of grains, yeast and water to create whiskey. American whiskey is usually made from corn, Irish whiskey is made from a blend of malted and regular barley and Scottish whisky (Scotch) is made from just malted barley. After the mash is made, Popular Science explains, whiskey makers boil off the methanol, leaving the ethanol, and put it into charred oak barrels. This is where the alcohol gains it’s guaiacol.
Okay so back to the water. When whiskey is more than 50 percent alcohol, the guaiacol tends to hang out deep in the glass. But if you add a bit of water, the guaiacol moves closer to the surface, so you can smell and taste it better, and it overall creates a more “satisfactory flavor” according to Popular Science.
Unfortunately, the way researchers discovered this was not through straight whiskey drinking. They ran “computational models to study the distribution of guaiacol in water-alcohol mixtures of different concentrations” writes Popular Science. The findings show that alcohol and water don’t mix well and that as the alcohol content increases, the alcohol molecules clump together to form bigger clusters. Those clusters move to the bottom of your drink. The alcohol is what contains the guaiacol, so all the flavor migrates down to the bottom of the glass. Water — or ice cubes — bring the flavor back to the top.
However, the only way to see if you agree with this research might be to try out.
The Secret to Great Cocktails? Find Out in The Spill.
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