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Old 11-30-2015, 08:07 PM
Foodie Foodie is offline
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Default Adding Water

I find that I typically need to add 4-6 drops of water per oz of scotch to get it to my taste. Is this akin to "training-wheels?" I heard that the addition of some water releases wood sugars, is this correct?
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Old 11-30-2015, 09:03 PM
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There are some Scotch anoraks that would tell you the adulteration of whisky with water is a sin. Fortunately, I've only encountered a scant few online, and (so far) none face to face.

Personally, I don't see the addition of water as a "training wheels" thing at all. Rather it's a taste preference. It's your whisky, in your glass; drink it how you like it. But every now and then, take a sip neat to note the taste before you add water. Maybe you already do that.

I've tried adding water, but it hasn't worked for me to this point. Thus far, the whiskies to which I've tried adding water taste better neat, but that's just my palate. However, when I'm tasting a new whisky, I'll still occasionally try adding a few drops to note the effect on taste.

In the video linked below, David Stewart of Balvenie is shown adding water, and he states that the addition of water opens up the whisky. He mentions that all the malt masters do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7zecs8jwIc

It should be noted that he's adding distilled water or at least water from the source that supplies the distillery itself. The idea is that water from any other source could possibly introduce mineral or other contaminants not found in the original distillery process. I don't know if that's true, but it seems to be a reasonable possibility, so not having access to the distillery water source when I've tried it, I use filtered water.
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Old 11-30-2015, 09:22 PM
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Interesting.

Opening it up is exactly what I was thinking, analogous of decanting a wine.
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Old 12-01-2015, 02:06 AM
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Interesting.

Opening it up is exactly what I was thinking, analogous of decanting a wine.
Ha ha... (I'm under extreme effort to hold back my true feelings here for the good of all of us).

Number 1) Wine is NEVER diluted with water. When wine is decanted it is just that... decanted. I find the same holds true for distilled spirits that have been aged in wood. Ralfy talks about pouring a dram and letting it sit for a good half hour before drinking.
Take 2 bottles of the exact same malt, same bottlings too. Open one and consume at least half over a period of about 3 weeks or more then do a taste comparison between the opened vs a JUST NOW opened bottle.

number 2) Many entry level whiskys sold in the UK are 40% abv AND 70cl in volume while in the USA these same selections are 43% and 75cl.
God forgive me for thinking ... such wimps.

number 3) Adding water, or anything else for that matter, never works for me even though I've tried it to be sure. If I'm drinking a big malt like Corryvreckan I simply take smaller sips. I'm of the school my salivary glands can do a much better job than adding water.

When I drink distilled spirits I always spray the liquid into my mouth by sucking it in with air. Not very mannerly but the flavor burst has become my default expectation.
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Old 12-01-2015, 03:55 AM
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I very seldom add any water but this Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso I opened last night is (to me) much better with the addition of more than just a few drops of water.
I'm thinking I'm adding about 5% water. It holds up much better than say a Aberlour A'Bunadh which thins out very fast with the addition of water.
Both are at about 60% and similar in taste.
I like it!!!!!
Now back to getting a tow truck to pull the wife's car out of the ditch. Dam,,,,,
That'll cost me a bottle of Scotch.
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Old 12-01-2015, 09:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoxcarBill View Post
Adding water, or anything else for that matter, never works for me even though I've tried it to be sure. If I'm drinking a big malt like Corryvreckan I simply take smaller sips. I'm of the school my salivary glands can do a much better job than adding water.
It's funny that I never add any water to my scotch.

The reason I say that is that when I first started getting interested in whisky I was told to give it a try, but a sprinkling of drops.
I felt that it was just a snobby thing, and like the emperors new clothes I'd find no difference whatsoever. I was surprised to find I was wrong and started using a touch of water sometimes, into my bourbon, which is mostly what I was drinking at first.

I even drank my Booker's (130 proof) straight sometimes, and other times added water. It really had nothing to do with softening the drink and I can't put it into flowery terms but it was both noticeable, and enjoyable, but also something that although I enjoyed, I never felt it was something I had to do.

Many times since I discovered that I really preferred scotch I've intended to give a couple drops of water a try, but I just really can't be bothered I guess.
I will do it someday, but it's the kind of thing that, at least for me, I'd enjoy experimenting with a couple of friends.
If I'm by myself, I'm just going to enjoy it straight!

Ice for me is a completely different issue which in my mind, I equate with adding Coke or whatever. Something that you do to bad tasting scotch to make it palatable. I have no desire to even own any scotch that doesn't taste good enough to drink straight.
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Old 12-01-2015, 09:26 AM
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Adding water to any whisky i ve tried never worked for me either..of course i didnt have access to the distillery water source but when i was in scotland at a distillery tour i did try the whiskies there with their water and still i prefer it neat.. I know most malt masters recommend adding a few drops of water espesially for CS whiskies.. To me it makes the whisky very soapy and i dont enjoy it at all..
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Old 12-01-2015, 02:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoxcarBill View Post
When I drink distilled spirits I always spray the liquid into my mouth by sucking it in with air. Not very mannerly but the flavor burst has become my default expectation.
What you're describing is a tasting technique used in other beverage tasting...coffee definitely, and maybe wine as well. Probably some others... The coffee tasters then slosh the coffee around as if they're using mouth wash, to let the coffee coat the entire mouth and back of the palate.

I use a similar sipping method as Bill with my whisky. If I'm with a friend or group, I use a more subtle method of holding the whisky on the palate, and slightly pursing your lips (sort of like you're going to whistle), but instead of blowing, suck in some air and let it mingle with the whisky. This technique doesn't aerate the whisky quite as well as literally sucking in on the sip, but it does pretty well. Mixing air with the beverage indeed produces a burst of flavor that doesn't show up otherwise.

Also, try breathing in through your nose while holding the beverage on the palate.

Word of caution to those that have never tried these tasting methods! Do it too aggressively, and you'll find yourself coughing, gagging, spewing whatever is in your mouth all over the place.
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Old 12-01-2015, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john_b View Post
Also, try breathing in through your nose while holding the beverage on the palate.
Especially with the Islay whiskies I love to gently breathe out through my nose, sometimes for minutes afterwards.

Just had a touch of Balvenie 17.
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Old 12-02-2015, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by john_b View Post
Do it too aggressively, and you'll find yourself coughing, gagging, spewing whatever is in your mouth all over the place.
He speaks from experience...

I was to an olive oil tasting back in Sept. I got a kick out of the woman telling me to sip the oil from the little sample cup like I explained I do with spirits. I just acted dumb and went along.

Last edited by BoxcarBill; 12-02-2015 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 12-02-2015, 01:35 PM
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He speaks from experience...
Lol...yep, many years ago when I was learning how to do it with coffee. When I finally regained my composure, all I could do was laugh at myself.
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Old 12-03-2015, 02:12 AM
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Thanks.. BTW, on "opening it up" I did not mean that I would ever, under any circumstance, add water to wine. To Scotch I am very new and here to learn... I have a pretty good background in wine.
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Old 12-03-2015, 04:11 AM
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I have a pretty good background in wine.
Ooh, a subject dear to my heart.
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Old 12-03-2015, 12:58 PM
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Yes indeed, this Balvenie 17, would be a shame to put any water in this...


(I just realized, we need a Glencairn glass smilie!)

Speaking of Glencairn, that's one thing that I think you'll really enjoy, a set of Glencairn fine whisky glasses.

Idea born and brought to fruition in Scotland, land of our favorite beverages!

Great for bourbons and all fine whiskies as well.
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