The Scientific Argument for Watering Down Your Whiskey

It smells better. It tastes better. And no, you're not a wuss.

By Kirk Miller

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18 August 2017

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.

The science behind this is here, but our suggestion? Test it out yourself. Maybe something from our extensive whisky/whiskey coverage can help.

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