View Full Version : What is a splash?

05-23-2003, 14:41
The discussion on adding a splash of water to Stagg got me thinking. What is a splash? A quick pass under a trickling faucet? Or do you have a separate vessel of water that you just pour a tiny bit out into your drink?

Also, what is meant by adding a few drops of water? How do you add a few drops without an eye dropper? http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/confused.gif

Anyhow, the real reason for this post it to figure out how much water do you use to unlock the flavor? A splash? A few drops?

05-23-2003, 17:22
The classic proportion for whiskey and water is 2 parts whiskey to one of water. I think many or most of those posting here use less, even a lot less.

However, I have heard professional whiskey tasters say to even go 50/50.

You should try 2 to 1 at least once and see what you think. I do it every now and again. It really does bring out the flavor.

Another hint I read, recently was to cut with distilled water. That sounds odd, to me. I understand that the point was to not add any extraneous flavors to that of the whiskey, but distilled water is generally not very good to drink. I would suggest tap water if it is good in your area, else a good quality bottled drinking water, such as Evian. Perrier is awesome with whiskey, but it is carbonated, so it adds a whole 'nother dimension.


05-25-2003, 01:01
"Splash" is deliberately vague. It can mean whatever you want it to mean, although common usage would suggest that it means "a little," much like "a dash" in a cooking recipe.

05-25-2003, 12:43

I am at least as uninitiated as you regarding this matter.

I have wondered about the comparison between adding water, whether splashed or not http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif, and sampling various bottlings of the same brand at different proofs. For example, I understand that Very Old Barton comes in several proofs ranging from 80 to 100.

If this is true, and if the same bourbon stock is used to produce all of those bottlings, then can the drinker get the same results by buying only 100 proof and adding the appropriate amount of water? I suspect without evidence that the answer is no. You chemists out there (T. in The Prairie State?) correct me if I'm wrong, but I would expect a transient change in the nose of a glass of bourbon as the water is introduced and mixed around. After a short time I would expect the nose to reach a near-equilibrium state, changing no more rapidly than any newly poured glass of bourbon.

I'm still reluctant to start adding water to Stagg, or any high-proof bourbon. Didn't the producers intend it to be drunk as bottled? If not, are high-proof bottlings merely a marketing gimmick? (Say it isn't so!) Perhaps the point is that the drinker gets to choose for him/herself what amount of water is ideal.

A couple of nights ago I gave in and added one old-fashioned, jumbo ice-cube to a couple of ounces of Stagg for the first time. To keep my taste buds fairly fresh I made it a point to take very tiny sips, and I drank infrequently to give the ice plenty of time to melt. Just as some StraightBourbonians have said, the flavors were more prominent with some dilution, not less so. Even as the monster cube shrank to a nubbin, the flavor never became weak or watery.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

05-25-2003, 14:51
Although I voted "straight up" in Jeff's Stagg poll, I also enjoy "Stagg on a Rock" upon occasion.

05-25-2003, 15:19
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
can the drinker get the same results by buying only 100 proof and adding the appropriate amount of water?


Yes. Absolutely. The only difference would be the composition (mineral content, etc.) of their water v. yours but that is all it is. In the 1960s, many bourbon makers resisted the trend to lower proof bourbons precisely because they couldn't understand why people couldn't just add their own water. They eventually bowed to the demands of the marketplace.

The reason 100 proof is 100 proof is that it was "full proof" or simply "proofed" as in "proved." To the early distillers, what was what constituted a true bourbon. In those days, typical barrel proof (if the distiller was any good) was about 100 proof, ideally a little higher so it could be cut to 100 for the sake of consistentcy. Beyond that little bit of dilution for leveling purposes (to take a 110 to 100, for example) the feeling was always, why pay whiskey prices for water? The idea was to always sell the product at full strength, but with the expectation that most consumers would dilute it to taste.

Now, because almost everyone enters at the permissible maximum of 120 proof, we have these products like Stagg and Bookers that come out of the barrel at 127-137 proof and the idea is that if you are going to pay that kind of money for a super-premium, long aged bourbon, why pay for water and why accept someone else's idea of the ideal proof for drinking? You're paying for whiskey and whiskey is what you should get but, again, the expectation is that you, the consumer, will dilute it to taste.

But, please, everyone, and I can't say this strongly enough: Do not feel obliged to drink Stagg or Bookers or even Old Commonwealth (107 proof) or any other high proof bourbon neat or even, for that matter, a 100 proof or lower bourbon. Don't feel obliged to drink any of it neat. Between 80 and 100 it can be argued that the distiller is choosing a "drinking" proof that shows the spirit to best advantage. Above 100 proof, you are simply getting the value proposition of paying for and getting whiskey, not water, and you are expected to add a little water when you drink it.

It fact, it's a little scary that so many of you are drinking Stagg neat. If you genuinely prefer to drink something like Stagg neat (it's not too dangerous if you take very small sips), then be my guest, but don't feel you are expected or supposed to drink it that way.

If I have any credibility here whatsoever, please believe me on this point. Dilution is appropriate and expected. The proper way to dillute is with natural spring water at room temperature. Even with a low proof bourbon, no knowledgeable bourbon drinker will be offended if you dilute up to a 1:1 ratio. With Stagg, for example, add one shot of water to two shots of Stagg and you are still above 100 proof, so we're really talking more than a "splash."

Where purists start to object is when you use ice or ice water or sparkling water or other mixers, but "bourbon and branch" is as bourbonically correct as you can get and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

05-25-2003, 15:25
I hardly ever add water to my drinks so I'm also a little clueless on "splashes and drops".

I tried a 2:1 ratio with Bookers one time and that was not to my liking. I tried a 4:1 ratio later and that was pretty enjoyable. All I did was measure out two shot glasses of Bookers and then a half shot glass of distilled water. This cut the Bookers down to about 100 proof which worked for me.


05-25-2003, 17:19
I agree fully. 100 proof was the historic standard of quality, but it was never understood that people would, normally at least, drink it at that proof let alone Stagg-level proof. As for ice, it has been used in America for a very long time in alcoholic drinks, it was put in beer, I know, from almost day one and I believe whiskey too. I know that in Quebec, when the Molson brewery started in the early 1800's, in summer people would add pieces of ice to the beer to cool it. I read this in a biography of the Molson family. The ice was taken from rivers in wintertime and stored year-round in wooden buildings well-insulated with sawdust. I believe in the North East U.S., people must have done the same, and the logic is even more persuasive with whiskey.

Personally though I rarely add ice to whisky. I usually drink it straight or add a small splash of water (very little, what the Scots call the dew on the rose). In my view, whiskey up to 100 proof drinks well straight if of very good quality. Just tonight I sampled Hancock Reserve and Van Winkle 12 year old bourbon Lot "B" in a snifter, neat. They are both close to 100 proof (around 45% abv). They are very good taken that way, indeed any other way won't disclose their full merits, in my view. However all this is a question of common sense. I chased the two drams with a bottle of local (Toronto) Black Oak Pale Ale - and then I stopped. Whereas if I was to drink three of four more whiskeys, over a "session", I would have diluted them or chased them with water, at least - everything is a question of common sense..


05-27-2003, 21:19
For me, a splash is just what the name implies: a quick pass under the faucet, or a quick pour from what ever my water is in. In a bar, I'll place my finger over the end of the straw in my ice water chaser and release a "strawfull" or two into my neat whiskey.

I'm drinking Van Winkle 10 YO 90 proof right now. I'm drinking it neat in a snifter with a splash of distilled water. Simply delicious. I used to add water and ice to my bourbon all the time. Now it's just ice or a splash of water. I've come to the conclusion that if you really want to savor your Bourbon, the only way is neat, in a snifter with a tiny splash to bring out the flavor. Likewise, tiny sips that coat and melt away over the tongue really let me experience the drink. It's like candy. Even mere Beam White has some wonderful little surprises when drank this way.

05-28-2003, 15:48
Oh, I agree about the "splash". I was just talking about "whiskey and water". The part about the "classic" proportion being 2:1 came from reading I was doing a few years ago about high-end single malt scotch. The part about "professional whiskey tasters" recommending 50:50 was from an article I read a few months ago on a major bourbon rating competition in San Francisco, I think.

I myself use much smaller splashes or drink it neat, when tasting (I often take it on the rocks when drinking for enjoyment). I was just passing along the info that many, including people who are recognized experts, often use a lot more water than that when tasting for discernment of flavor.


05-28-2003, 15:55
I have tried the 50:50 ratio. To me it just tastes like watered-down bourbon. I guess because I began my bourbon tasting neat and on-the-rocks, that's just what I have come to expect a bourbon to taste like. I never add water to my bourbon. If I want to taste it at less than full strength, I add some ice and taste it as it melts.

05-28-2003, 18:46
I prefer a splash of room temperature water vs an ice cube for tasting. I think the ambient temperature of spring water or "branch" helps release some of the flavors and aromas in the bourbon, whereas ice tends to mute them. (The volatiles and vapor pressure thing). Does anyone else see a distinct difference between OTR and "with a splash"