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When to Add Water or Ice to Whisky

on 25/08/11 at 10:19 am


“I frequently get asked about the appropriate way to serve whiskies. Should they be served neat? On the rocks? Or perhaps with a splash of water in the classic Bourbon and branch water tradition? While the simple answer is to enjoy your whiskies any way you like to drink them, here are some suggestions for ways to get the most enjoyment out of your whiskies.

Cask strength or barrel proof whiskies (usually those over 50% abv) can usually benefit from the addition of a splash of cool water or an ice cube or two. By adding a splash of water, flavors and aromas that might be missed in such a high proof whiskey begin to emerge and the burn of the alcohol becomes less noticeable. Two whiskies in this category that I particularly enjoy with a splash of cool water are Booker’s bourbon and Ardbeg Uigedail single malt Scotch whisky. If adding an ice cube, allow a few minutes for the whiskey and ice to warm up a bit before enjoying. As liquids become colder, less flavor is apparent, so adding a few cubes will actually tighten up the whiskey for a short time before the release of flavors from the addition of the melted ice becomes apparent.

Whiskies that range from 45% abv (90 proof) to 50% abv (100 proof) may either be enhanced with water, or you may find that water detracts from your experience depending on your palate.”


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