First off, let’s ease the purists’ hearts and head off their arguments about adding water to whiskey. There is something to be said for respecting the proof that the distiller has decided to release that whiskey at, but I don’t think that is the end-all be-all of the discussion. Just make sure that you try the whiskey neat and naked before adding any water. It is not indecent; it is part of the experience and reveals one of the many tantalizing aspects of that spirit. In any liquid with an ABV of 20% or higher, volatile aroma molecules are locked in place by chemical bonds developed in the presence of high ethanol levels. Water has the ability to release and break free those aromatic molecules. More aroma means more flavor. Think about the invigorating smell right after a rain shower in the spring; water releases the aromatic molecules of nature, and whiskey is no different. This dilution has an added benefit of diluting the amount of ethanol, which has a slight anesthetic effect on your taste buds. “Historically, people have always bottled stuff at 40% alcohol because that is the lowest allowable ABV With a lot of your . nicer whiskeys, you will see higher bottling proofs. It’s not necessarily that you should drink it at that higher proof, but that you can drink it at that higher proof. It’s like buying a block of cheese versus sliced cheese. If you want a thicker slice, if you want a thinner slice, if you want to change your mind, you can. Adding water to whiskey is like grinding coffee right before you brew it. It releases aromatics. Physiologically, what is going on is things are less soluble in water than they are in alcohol. So as the proof changes, some things are going to waft out of the whiskey and open up right then.” -Chip Tate of Tate & Co Distillery You can always add water, but you can’t take water away, so ease into your preferred amount of dilution. I asked Chip how much water he likes to add to his whiskey and what the ratios were? His answer was one word, “Incrementally!” Darek Bell, owner of Corsair Distillery, says that he “just adds a couple of drops, just a tiny amount of cold water. It opens up the spirit and releases some of the nose…so that is what I am after. I want to open up a little bit of the nose when I drink it, but I don’t want to add so much that I am seriously diluting it. Cold out of the faucet is fine, but chilled water would be better.” © Hundred-to-One LLC 2015. All rights reserved.