Perk of the job: I speak with a lot of master distillers. And every single one of them has told me to add a bit of water to their whisky to “open it up.” Some folksy charm, I thought. But really, it’s science.
Researchers from the Linnaeus University Center for Biomaterials Chemistry in Sweden claim adding a little water really does enhance your whiskey by spreading out the molecules associated with taste and aroma — but only in higher alcohol concentrations. Basically, dilution is beneficial only for brown spirits which have 59 percent ABV or higher.
The tests were done using Scotch, and by studying a molecule called guaiacol that affects the spirit’s taste and smell.