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Whisky and Water

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Whisky and Water

Postby Brian » Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:15 pm

I recently got in to the habit of adding a few drops of water to my whisky. I have started to wonder if I should be adding a particular brand of water over another. I usually just use Poland Spring because it tastes pretty neutral to me, it’s cheap and I have it on hand. But last weekend I weekend I had the opportunity to use Speyside-Glenlivet water from Scotland. I don’t know if it was just the idea of using water from Scotland or if it actually helped the whisky taste better but I liked it.

I was just curious if you add a few drops of water to your whisky what type of water do you use and if this water from Scotland is worth it or should I stick with my normal bottled spring water.


Thanks
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:30 pm

Hi Brian!
I used to add water but rarely do so now. Some whiskies definately opens up with a little water while others don't benefit at all - quite the contrary!
My experience is that the nose benefits most from adding water whereas the tasting sensation in the mouth doesn't nessecarily do so - relative to the amount of water of of course! However, the main reason for not adding water is that I keep the whisky in the mouth for longer and it then blends with the spit you produce when tasting. Some cask strengths are on the strong side and in need of water though!
Anyway, that's the way I do it but there isn't any right or wrong answer.

Skål!
Christian
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Postby edjohnb » Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:24 pm

I do agreed with Christian - some whiskies do better without the water. I thought it might be quite daft sometimes to add water to cask strength whisky, afterall, that was what cask strength bottling was for.

In the Glenmorangie wood finishes water may dilute the wood expressions :? and weaken the taste.

However, if I should add water I'd go for a soft spring water. I have found that the French waters a bit harsh. So the best water which I have stuck to all this time was from, no surprises, Scotland - Highland Spring. Of course, here in tropical Singapore, I'll have it with ice.
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Postby bamber » Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:48 pm

I only standardly add water to a whisky when I first taste a new bottle. Otherwise it is restricted to CS whisky and then really only when I feel like it.

I use tap water :oops: . The water in Bristol is pretty soft and I never drink mineral water, because I think the stuff might be dodgy.
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Water and whisky

Postby corbuso » Thu Aug 18, 2005 10:06 am

Hi Brian.
Water does not have much impact on the whisky if it is bottled at reduced strength (40°/ 80 proof), because then it is ready to drink.
Otherwise , for cask strength (CS), adding water might have a lot of impact on the flavours and texture of the whisky.

If you refer to a recent article published in the french version of Whiskymagazine, the type of water does have some influence.
Vittel or Evian water does increase the harshness of the whisky, while the scottish water does inscrease the smoothness of it.

Personally, I prefer using the Glenlivet. Arran water or Highland Spring and I also find that continental mineral water does somewhat alter the taste of the whisky, giving it a mineralic-metallic flavour , but not in the Scottish waters.

The best experience I had was to drink the water from Laphroaig's source: the water is extremely smooth and soft with a prononced peated taste, enhancing considerably the peatyness of Laphroaig's whisky.

With a CS whisky, just add a few drop of water , taste it, add again water and repeat the process . This will allow it to see the effect of water and will help you to dose the amount of water to match your personal taste.
On the latest Bomwore CS or Highland Park CS I tried, the whisky did really opened with extra water and gave the best of it.

Pat
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Thu Aug 18, 2005 10:46 am

I'm just curious corbuso, how can you taste peat in the water from the Laphroaigs water source? I take it you refer to the phenolic taste - but that only occurs when the peat is on fire adding smoke and phenolic content to the barley. Or do you mean a peaty taste as in something tasting vegetal because that would possibly make more sense.

Water does not have much impact on the whisky if it is bottled at reduced strength (40°/ 80 proof), because then it is ready to drink.

I beg to differ as adding more water - let's say 50/50 - would make the task of nosing easier after diluting. The taste would in my view not be better off but that's another matter.

Skål!
Christian
Last edited by Mr Fjeld on Thu Aug 18, 2005 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Aidan » Thu Aug 18, 2005 10:57 am

We have very good tap water here. I have never bought water to mix with whisky, although I have used bottled water at tastings as it's provided.
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Postby susywong » Thu Aug 18, 2005 3:12 pm

Last year i attended a tasting by Dr Steven Cribb, on the influences water has on whisky. We were given 5 different whiskies, and 5 different water types, marked A-E. In each whisky, we had to nose and taste with the addidtion of each of the 5 different types of water. Boy did it make a difference.

We used tap water, Speyside Glenlivet spring water, hard water, soft water and Buxton bottled water(english).

Each different type of water made the whisky different, and at the end of the tasting, there was a uninimous decision that B was best-the Speyside Glenlivet water. We had no idea which water was which untill the results were in.

It was totally mindblowing, i never thought that the type of water made that much differnece before. How wrong i was!

Cheers
Susan
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Postby Brian » Thu Aug 18, 2005 11:55 pm

Thank you all very much for your comments. I do not add water to every whisky I drink but I find myself picking out whiskys that to me taste and smell better with just a few drops of water. For the CS whiskys how much water do you find your self adding? Enough to bring it down near normal bottling strength (40-46%) or just enough to your individual taste. I really find it interesting what Susan said. Do you happen to remember what effect the other waters had on the whisky or was it just that the Speyside Glenlivet water had the lest effect.


Thanks again for all your help
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Aug 19, 2005 4:04 am

I don't use water much anymore myself, but Poland Spring is okay with me. I've been meaning to experiment with Aquafina, which I can't stand to drink but strikes me as perfect for diluting whisky--it's essentially distilled water.

edjohnb, many folks would say that the point of cask strength whisky is that you can dilute it to the strength that you think is best. I usually do like it as is, though!
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Postby Admiral » Fri Aug 19, 2005 4:40 am

As I've remarked previously....most whisky is 40% ABV, which means it's already 60% water anyway! :wink: Why would you want to add any more!!! :D

In truth, there are some (admittedly very few, IMHO) whiskies that can take some water, and when I do add a few drops, I don't get too fussed whether the water is from the tap, the spring, or the bottle. Admittedly, Sydney water is very good and clean, so tap water doesn't present the sort of problems it might in other cities.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Bullie » Fri Aug 19, 2005 9:14 pm

I find that this topic is one of the most discussed ones. And it comes back, time after time. And my humble opinion in this case, as ever, is that water should be added, after what YOU think is the right amount. No one can ever tell you that you are wrong, since taste and nose are such individual and personal opinions...

Start with a drop or two, and keep going until you find the amount that is right for your taste.
I use quite a lot. And I find that this makes most whiskies better for my taste. And the boquet grows to a level you can't ever find without water. For me, the taste comes with the nose...
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Fri Aug 19, 2005 11:48 pm

If I do add water, which is quite often, I use a good quality Scottish Spring water, like Highland Spring, always still, never sparkling.

I just can't imagine using any other type of water, certainly not our local tap water - which is revolting!

Cheers

Paul
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Postby SpiritofShetland » Sat Aug 20, 2005 8:28 am

susywong wrote:Each different type of water made the whisky different, and at the end of the tasting, there was a uninimous decision that B was best-the Speyside Glenlivet water. We had no idea which water was which untill the results were in.


I think it was two yars ago when I attended the tasting by Dr. Cribb. , but at the end there wasn't any agreement on what was best. Us Scandinavians mostly went for the tapwater, the Scots for the Speyside-Glenllivet and the Englishmen thought the Buxton-water made the whisky best.

As for adding water to the whisky on a normal basis, my process is as follows:
1. I always sample a new whisky neat.
2. I then add a few drops of water (more if it's cask)
3. If the water has made it better I will countinue to add water to this whisky, or else I won't - but I always try it both ways first.

When it comes to adding water to 40-43-46% whiskies it doesn't take much to add too much, so be careful.
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