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Cask strength, neat or with water?

Take part in our whisky polls and votes. You can also post your own polls in this forum.

Do you drink your cask strength whiskies with water or without?

Nope, no water
11
41%
Straight out of the bottle, at full strength
16
59%
 
Total votes : 27

Cask strength, neat or with water?

Postby jeffk » Sun Nov 20, 2005 9:29 pm

Do you add water to your cask strength whiskies (Laphroaig CS, Ardbeg Uigeadail, etc.) straight out of the bottle neat, or do you add water to dilute them down?
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Postby jimidrammer » Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:39 pm

I just take smaller sips. I have added water to see if the nose changes, but have yet to notice much, if any, improvement in the palate due to water. I admit I need to make further studies. While the higher ABV is intense, it let's me enjoy the powerful flavors. I tend to pour about half the amount of a C/S as I do a standard 40, 43, 46%. And I don't usually include more than 1 or 2 C/S drams in a night, it just kills the tastebuds for everything else.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:50 pm

:arrow: Sometimes.

Usually not, but some demand a little dilution, or at times I do.
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Postby jeffk » Sun Nov 20, 2005 11:09 pm

I realized I kind of munsoned the poll...sorry, unfortunately I can't edit it, so you've got the option of without water, or without water. :mrgreen:
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Sun Nov 20, 2005 11:18 pm

It depends on certain factors -
1) does the whisky need it ?
2) the strength
3) what mood i'm in
4) if i'm at a tasting

Slainté
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Nov 20, 2005 11:28 pm

jeffk wrote:I realized I kind of munsoned the poll...sorry, unfortunately I can't edit it, so you've got the option of without water, or without water. :mrgreen:


It's okay, I just like giving the answer that isn't there! I do it to pollsters who call on the phone, too. (They deserve it more than you do--most of the time they're trying to engineer a specific result with carefully-crafted answers.) Anyway, it's mostly a point of discussion--I pay more attention to what people say than to the vote count.
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Postby nicholtl » Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:24 am

I voted for "with water," but that's not entirely accurate in what I do with cask strength drams. I add ONE small ice-cube, usually melted down a bit before hand. It adds just the right amount of dilution and chill.
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Postby MGillespie » Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:01 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:It's okay, I just like giving the answer that isn't there! I do it to pollsters who call on the phone, too. (They deserve it more than you do--most of the time they're trying to engineer a specific result with carefully-crafted answers.) Anyway, it's mostly a point of discussion--I pay more attention to what people say than to the vote count.



Uhhh, T...I would respectfully disagree with you on that. There may be some pollsters who do that, but they're not the reputable ones...

Obligatory disclaimer here: In my real life, I work for the Gallup Poll.

Mark
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Postby hpulley » Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:38 am

As said elsewhere I used to experiment but not anymore. No adding water to my whisky.

Harry
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:10 am

MGillespie wrote:Uhhh, T...I would respectfully disagree with you on that. There may be some pollsters who do that, but they're not the reputable ones...

Obligatory disclaimer here: In my real life, I work for the Gallup Poll.

Mark


Mmmm, tasty foot.... You're right, of course, Mark, and I don't mean to denigrate what your employer does, although I usually choose not to participate for a wide variety of reasons. But I do feel that most opinion polls necessarily give the respondent a small variety of simplistic answers from which to choose, on complicated subjects. The results can be very misleading. When the poll is conducted by someone with an agenda, such as a business or an interest group, it's often intentionally misleading. But I know that Gallup is a reputable organization, and I didn't mean to refer to such as they.
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Postby MGillespie » Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:17 am

No worries...I know there are some pollsters out there who are likely guilty of skewing questions to get a desired answer...they give the rest of us a bad name. I know you didn't mean any offense...

Mark
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Postby bamber » Mon Nov 21, 2005 10:21 am

New bottle - always with and without - sometimes dilute it a lot if I cannot work it out at all.

After than generally no.
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Postby arnehd » Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:07 pm

After the first sip of the Uigeadail there was no experimenting with it . This I just had to enjoy the way it was .Same thing for the Laphroaig CS, even though I had a cold the last time. Maybe next time I will give it try. But I would be careful not to add to much water at once or else it will be whisky flavoured water , and who could want that?
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Postby Badmonkey » Sat Nov 26, 2005 7:20 am

I like the way the poll has been framed. Most of the time I take it straight out of the bottle. Other times I refuse to add water. When I drink cask strength, I'm looking for the full-strength effect.

Having said that, Bowmore Cask Strength seems to benefit from a few drops of water. I like the flavour, but it all seems a little unbalanced in a "crazy uncle living in the tool shed" kinda' way.

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Postby Dubois » Sun Apr 30, 2006 6:00 pm

Allways straight from the bottle , no water for me !
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Sun Apr 30, 2006 8:56 pm

I really prefer my cask strength whiskey straight but I have no problem adding water if it is a beast. I usually find that most are very approachable at cask strength though.

Did have a run in with George T Stagg though ..... now that's fire water at 70% vol. :shock:
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Postby Scotty Mc » Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:13 pm

Always without water!

What I don't understand is why water is added to any whisky (except in bottling hall of course). I know that it can release different aroma's but personally I don't see the point.
Especially in the case of CS whiskies by adding water, the alcohol percentage is lowered in cases to around 40%. Why not just buy a bottle of whisky that is already 40%? Or lowering a 40% whisky to that of 20% by adding water?

If that is the case, then I find CS whiskies pointless as by adding water, the whisky is reduced to 'normal' strength.

I know this may upset some folk on the boards, and of course I don't want to do so. This is in no way an attack on those who like water in whisky, just my personal preference :D
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Postby Jan » Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:25 pm

Scotty Mc wrote:Always without water!

What I don't understand is why water is added to any whisky (except in bottling hall of course). I know that it can release different aroma's but personally I don't see the point.


While I normally do not add water, I often try it out when tasting a new malt. I have from time to time experienced some spectacular transformations by adding a little water. Most notably on the '74 RM Linkwood, which almost became a totally different whisky. (Liked it best with water, actually.) The point, for me at least, is not to dillute the whisky, but to experiment and sometimes get a nice surprise. (And of course the other side of the coin, is that sometimes the surprise is not nice at all :wink: )

You should really not add more than a few drops, not enough to noticably dillute the whisky.

Cheers
Jan
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Sun Apr 30, 2006 11:44 pm

Straight from the bottle - who needs a glass anyway!

Cheers, Paul
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CS and water? I das't not

Postby Muskrat Portage » Sun Apr 30, 2006 11:52 pm

I vote no water rather than just straight out of the bottle. :D :D :D Like others I pour the dram, nose and sample and continue to enjoy the full blown effect. The odd time I've been tricked into putting a teaspoon of water in to "open the nose" and next dram returned to undiluted, still unconvinced of the virtues of water.
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Postby WestVanDave » Mon May 01, 2006 6:18 am

I know it's been debated to death - but I'm still going to jump back into the fray on this one...

I have tried the "just a drop" to open up the whisky and have found myself agreeing with Jim Murray - that even if water does have a benefit - it is short-lived and that this "release" has to be repeated... it's inconsistent and with repeated "abuses" dilutes the whisky to varying degrees... It's impact is irreversible...

So - the alternative of simply "hand-warming" the whisky by cupping the bottom of the glass can reach the same result of "opening up" the whisky - without the downside of inconsistent dilution. I also find that if I am really taking my time with a whisky... warming, nosing, caressing (drooling), etc. that I really enjoy it as is - straight from the bottle - and the strength is never a negative.

The strongest of the strong - cask strength - and that includes the George T. Stagg or some of the SMWS stunners are all very approachable if one is respectful of their strength. Just don't quaff 'em... take your time... and move them around in the mouth as long as possible to take in all the flavour. Jim Murray also recommends a technique of tilting the head back and keeping the mouth open to allow the alcohol to "escape" during this extended tasting process... I've noticed it seems to help as I've spent hours enjoying cask strength whiskies without ever feeling the need to dilute them down.

I also find that many sherried whiskies can't hold up with the addition of water - to the point of no redemption - whereas Bourbon barrelled brutes are more tolerant of water (if one must)...
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon May 01, 2006 10:32 am

I will never add water without trying the whisky "just as it comes" first.

Some Cask Strengths I find slightly overpowering and will add literally just a few drops of water, which I find does open up the whisky, releasing flavours and aromas.

I agree with much of what Dave has posted (WestVanDave) and certainly agree that the sherried malts do not seem to like water being added.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon May 01, 2006 10:59 am

WhiskyHammer wrote:I will never add water without trying the whisky "just as it comes" first.

Some Cask Strengths I find slightly overpowering and will add literally just a few drops of water, which I find does open up the whisky, releasing flavours and aromas.

WH


Yeah - I'd go along with that.
It also depends on mood time of day etc. As an example, I've got a fabulous Signatory bottling of Highland Park 13yo 58.7%. Most times I'll drink take it straight - other times it just needs softened a touch.
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Postby Frodo » Mon May 01, 2006 1:41 pm

OK, Hobbits are little people and we need to water our whiskies to stay vertical! CS whiskies are usually just too powerful for me, and although there are flavours, I find them often tightly-wound and sitting amid this big alcohol sting if I don't adding water.

I will agree with DVW about sherry casked whiskies being more...vunerable to water. For me, this means being more cautious about how much water is added.

Oddly enough, I can drink some bourbon CS whiskies with little or no water. Blanton's is a good example. Not sure why this is...
Last edited by Frodo on Wed May 03, 2006 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lawrence » Mon May 01, 2006 6:10 pm

I always find it amusing that the 'no water brigade' are always so militant. We've endured this discussion many times and it's still amusing but at the end of the day if you don't examine a cask strength sample with a little water at some point you're risking missing a myriad of flavours.

If you over water it, it's not a tragedy, you can always add more whisky to fix it. WVD is quite correct in that wine matured or finished whiskies are more susceptible to water and usually take less and sometimes none at all.

I also thinks it's instructive, especially for us amatuers, to look to industry for some clues and industry more often than not examine a CS sample with water, often on a 50/50 ratio.

Also take a look at the SMWS tasting notes, the vast majority are reviewed at first neat and then with water and the changes are noted. I think the SMWS knows something about CS whiskies and if they add water to make an assessment, should we not at some point consider doing the same? At the very least you might decide a sample actually needs water or does not, but how will you ever know if you don't try?

An added bonus is that cutting samples with water can reveal hidden flaws that are simply not 'visible' as cask strength.

However when you're faced with a sample it's your individual choice whether to add water or not but I have to wonder if a rigid stance one way or the other is to anyones benefit.

I also find a poll question that gives two choices that are exactly the same to be a little pointless but it's fun to talk about the subject so not all is lost.
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Oh mighty Hobylatyn

Postby Muskrat Portage » Mon May 01, 2006 7:30 pm

Frodo wrote:OK, Hobbits are little people and we need to water their whiskies to stay vertical! CS whiskies are usually just too powerful for me, ...if I don't adding water....

Frodo: Yes and then you acquire too many "mathoms" at the parties you Hobbits hold. I concur that the size issue does come into play for some people. Like Mr. T, I'm 6"3" and have a pretty high tolerance for CS. I've drammed with less vertically blessed persons and found that neat whisky has a greater impact on most of them, so, there is virtue in adding a bit of water to get the full range of flavours available, oh wise and generous Hobbit, may the hair on your toes be ever curlier. :D Generally I have distilled water on the side to cleanse my palate for the next assault.
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Postby rthomson » Mon May 01, 2006 7:57 pm

Currently, I never add water to cs. Lately, however, I've been more consistent about nosing and sipping a dram and then warming it in my hand for a couple of minutes. The post-warming aroma/flavor profile can be quite different. If the warming can change the profile then I'm willing to entertain the notion that a little water can too. Enough people have said they note different aromas after a couple of drops of a water in a cs that I might try it again. No harm in trying.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon May 01, 2006 8:09 pm

Try it with just a small dram and literally just a drop or two of water.
I think you will be surprised at the difference.
But if not, then drink the next drams neat.

WH
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Postby hpulley » Mon May 01, 2006 8:11 pm

Over the years the number of drams impoved has been far outweighed by the number I've ruined so now I only try it on drams I find too hot if served neat, which is not many. Just personal preference.

Harry
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Postby lambda » Mon May 01, 2006 8:23 pm

I seem to be in a minority, but I am usually quite generous with water (not just a few drops). When I first try I whisky, I try it neat of course, and experiment with water till I find the perfect drinking strength (for me), which I also do when writing tasting notes. After a few drams I am usually quite aware of the amount of water it can have without falling apart and then I add water immediately.

So why do I buy CS whiskies? Two obvious reasons. First, many great whiskies are only available CS. Second, I like to be able to decide "perfect" drinking strength myself. Usually, this is around 50% ABV for me, but it may vary.
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Postby Mr Ellen » Mon May 01, 2006 8:29 pm

Spirit of Islay wrote:It depends on certain factors -
1) does the whisky need it ?
2) the strength
3) what mood i'm in
4) if i'm at a tasting

Slainté
Gordon


It can't be stated better than the above... :wink:

Personally, if it's a whisky unfamiliar to me I always try a sip neat to find out the original taste and after that I most often add some water to see what happens.
I find most whiskies open up with some water while a few (particularly the sherry matured ones) seem to be ruined with water added.
I'll leave it up to each one to decide how to drink it.

Cheers
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed May 03, 2006 6:00 am

You know, sometimes I taste a cask-strength whisky and think, "Hmm, this could use a little water," and then I don't add it anyway. :?
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Postby parvus » Wed May 03, 2006 6:12 am

Sometimes I use water, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I take my glass to the sink and yell at the whisky. If it doesn't calm down, it gets the hose.

I have mixed results from yelling at my whisky.
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Postby Les Paul » Wed May 03, 2006 9:29 am

I've been drinking both of my Cask Strengths without water....the Mac CS and the Aberlour A'bunadh......delicious!
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Fri May 05, 2006 11:26 am

As before depends howyou feel.

This how I waterk my CS expressions that I have at the moment.

Highland Park 25yo 50.7% (never)
Macallan 10yo 56.5% (never)
Aberlour A'bunadh 59.6% (ocassionally depending on form)
Edradour Sauterness finish 56.8% (never)
George T Stogg 70.6% (always)
W.L. Weller 60.95% (very ocassionally depending on form)
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