Do you order your whiskey neat? You may want to reconsider. While some may swear against diluting their whiskey, those that do are on to something. A new study published by the Scientific Journal has revealed that whiskey with water added does in fact enhance the flavor, making it taste better than by itself.
Before your whiskey winds up in a highball glass, it's already diluted to a degree. Whiskey is typically distilled to about 70 percent alcohol by volume, then diluted to around 40 percent. So what happens when you mess with the chemical structure of whiskey and its alcohol molecules to dilute it even further? According to the study published in the Scientific Journal, it enhances the molecule guaiacol - the molecule responsible for whiskey's distinctive flavor - which improves the overall taste.
In the new study, researchers looked at how guaiacol molecules changed the flavor of whiskey when mixed with a little water. Using a computer stimulation, they tested the reaction of guaiacol in different concentrations of water-ethanol mixtures. The results in larger concentrations of ethanol molecules were eye-opening, especially to those who protest tap water or ice cubes in whiskey.
What they found was the mixtures of 45 percent ethanol caused the guaiacol to float to the surface, while alcohol concentrations of 59 percent or higher caused the molecule to float elsewhere in the glass. That means dilution causes all those yummy taste molecules to float right to the surface, awaiting your senses. It enhances that deep smoky flavor from your nose right to your taste buds.
So what does that mean for the cheap stuff, and not the prime single malt options? Talk to any whiskey connoisseur and they will be admit about what brands are worth savoring - and which one's taste like, well, swill. And they most certainly will tell you the best way to consume it. But if you're adding water to the cheap whiskey, will it wind up tasting better?
Next time you have a bottle of whiskey lying around, do your homework and try a taste test. Compare side by side how the flavor changes with and without water. You could even get a little crazy and try the cheap bottle compared to your favorite top shelf. Who said a variety from the United States couldn't taste as delicious as one from Scotland or Japan with a little water to enhance those flavor molecules.
Do you notice a difference in taste? Whether it's a yes or no, it probably doesn't take any arm twisting to test out this new research.