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straightwhiskeyruffneck
01-27-2007, 20:00
i've recently been trying whiskey, mostly higher proof cut with a touch of water. it seems like in some whiskies anyway, that it opens up the flavors. sort of loosens a tightly packed taste that normally straight up, wouldnt be found or as noticeable. from now on, i intend on trying almost all whiskey cut with water. now when i say cut, i mean mabe 10% water.
now i wouldnt add water to say, basil hayden or old charter 10 yr, seems like this technique works best on either older, higher proof or fuller flavored whiskey.
just enough to do what it has to do. anyway, my question. who all does this, and if you do add water how much? and what labels do you recomend most with water?

jinenjo
01-27-2007, 20:06
It varies for me. I do tend to add a few drops to higher proofers. But not always, it depends on my mood. I would agree that it does change the spirit, almost always nicely.

I've heard some scotch guys say the reverse, as it goes for age and water (i.e. the younger, the more water).

-Lear

CrispyCritter
01-27-2007, 20:07
Water should be added according to your taste. That being said, I've noticed that high-proof whiskeys do tend to open up a bit with just a small splash of water - yet I like it just as much neat. Sometimes I add water, sometimes not.

The quality of the water also matters. If I add water, I normally use my town's tap water (piped in from Chicago) run through a reverse osmosis filter.

TNbourbon
01-27-2007, 20:27
I almost never add water, unless I'm trying to equalize proofs for comparatively tasting. Not infrequently, however, if I'm not in the mood for whiskey neat, I'll add (diet) cola or ginger ale, or fix a mixed drink. I do that with ANY bourbon. I realize some consider it sacrilege to, for example, drink a Stagg and Coke, and I'll not try to change anyone's mind if they don't want to do that. But what I've purchased is MY whiskey, and I thus drink it whatever way I want to when the spirit moves me -- which, most the time, is neat.

CrispyCritter
01-27-2007, 20:43
II realize some consider it sacrilege to, for example, drink a Stagg and Coke, and I'll not try to change anyone's mind if they don't want to do that.

I've never tried Stagg and Coke - but I have mixed a Manhattan with Stagg. :bigeyes:

It was quite good - and the Stagg character clearly showed in the drink! However, it went down a little too easily. :falling:

Virus_Of_Life
01-27-2007, 21:07
Personally I think the whiskey totally dictates what it needs. For example there is not a Van Winkle that I've added water too and found any improvement, but last night I was drinking Willett Estate Rye and found it to be way too harsh straight; however upon adding enough water to proof it down to maybe 110 it opened up and was truly an exceptional whiskey.

Plain and simple if it seems tight or constrained, splash some water in and see what happens, but not too much!

I ain't going to pretend to know much about scotch, but am pretty sure most are already lower proofs than typical bourbon, i.e. they run closer to 80 proof than 100; therefore watering it down would probably make it even worse.

And ...... Tim, diet cola of all things??? Oh my! :slappin:

CrispyCritter
01-27-2007, 21:22
I ain't going to pretend to know much about scotch, but am pretty sure most are already lower proofs than typical bourbon, i.e. they run closer to 80 proof than 100; therefore watering it down would probably make it even worse.

There are a fair number of cask-strength Scotches on the market now, and non-chillfiltered bottlings (which generally need to be at least 46% ABV) have become more common in recent years. In general, small amounts of water work well with these.

Mass-market Scotches tend to be 40% or 43%, though.

It's kind of ironic to see non-chillfiltered whisky make a comeback - so the story goes, chillfiltering came about because a shipment of Scotch got left out in the cold during a dockworkers' strike, and the recipient sent it back because the cold bottles were hazy and thus must have been spoiled. Now, "non-chillfiltered" has become a mark of distinction.

ILLfarmboy
01-27-2007, 21:33
Well, yes and no. I never add water to drop the proof. If I don't feel like drinking Stagg or Handy at full proof I choose a lower proof bottling or on rare occasions drink it at 4 to 1 water to whiskey with plenty of ice. Some might consider that to be sacrilege.

ratcheer
01-28-2007, 06:25
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.

When I do cut it, I will use different things. Sometimes water, sometimes ice, very occasionally something such as Perrier.

Tim

cowdery
01-28-2007, 07:02
I generally cut anything above 107 proof. How much? "A splash" is as close as I can come to defining it.

As for whether or not water "opens it up," Jim Murray and others who drink a lot of both American and Scottish whiskey say that American whiskey is already so "in your face" that water has little effect in that regard. I'll take their word for it. I don't drink enough scotch to be able to compare. Also, they say that if you're adding water to "open it up," you only need a drop or two. Obviously, that doesn't lower the proof significantly.

When I am tasting something for purposes of a review, I generally will taste it at full proof, add a "splash" of water, taste it again, add another splash, and maybe even do that a third time. You do get some different flavors with each dilution.

Gillman
01-28-2007, 07:17
This is an interesting question which we have discussed here a number of times, and everyone has their own take on it.

My gambols in the highways and byways of whiskeyana have convinced me that it was taken straight sometimes. Very often it was served with water or soda (the highball). As often or more, it was served in a cocktail.

The best whiskey was sold in bonded form (100 proof). Very little whiskey, except in the uncontrolled frontier days, would have been sold at a higher proof than that. A lot of whiskey was sold at between 80 and 100 proof. Old Forester's original proof, when it was still a blend of straight bourbons, was 90.

For straight sipping except as a curiosity, I too would not drink anything uncut over 107. Even at 100-107 that is a very high strength. Often such whiskeys benfit from a dash of water. As to what kind, I use any clean water that is at hand. I just don't think for practical purposes it matters what kind. The taste of whiskey does seem to open up with a little water but then too it matters what proof you start at, and what intensity of flavors you like. I've read that some experts like to taste at 20% abv or something like that, but this seems too low unless you are tasting to calibrate the palate for consumers who drink with water or ice and water. I generally will drink the whiskey at whatever proof it comes and if it seems too "much", will add some water to soften it.

Gary

jinenjo
01-28-2007, 15:28
Forgot to mention that I occassionally enjoy adding HOT Water.
Haven't done it too much lately, even though it's California-cold enough out here. I've also had more experience of doing this with scotch.

A great technique is to warm the whiskey in a snifter as it sits over simmering water in small gravy sauce pan. Then add the water. Kick back in a bath for extra relaxation.:yum:

However, as my cold lingers on this sounds like it could be on my plate tonight. The other night I went to a bar and drank a hot Rittenhouse.
VERY TASTY AND WARM!

There's nothing like warm whiskey to warm one's spirit.

??Anyone else like their whiskey hot sometimes??

-Lear

ILLfarmboy
01-28-2007, 15:35
??Anyone else like their whiskey hot sometimes??

-Lear

Only if putting Irish whiskey (usually redbreast) in hot tea counts.

Gillman
01-28-2007, 15:43
Both these resemble hot toddies, very popular in the 1800's.

Irish saying: what whiskey and butter [meaning, a buttered whiskey toddy] can't cure, there is no cure for".

Gary

jinenjo
01-28-2007, 15:49
Both these resemble hot toddies, very popular in the 1800's.

Irish saying: what whiskey and butter [meaning, a buttered whiskey toddy] can't cure, there is no cure for".

Gary

I've heard of hot toddies. I just didn't know that it simply meant hot water + whiskey.

Great Irish saying! Buttered implies hot then? I'll add it to my lexicon.

Gillman
01-28-2007, 15:57
Yes, a hot toddy was whiskey and hot water. Toddies could be drunk cold, too. Usually when taken hot they were sweetened but this was to the drinker's preference.

Buttered means that butter is actually added to the toddy. Probably in an earlier day, when whiskey was viewed as a medicine, adding the richness of butter was felt to improve its health qualities.

The drink survives but more in the form of the hot buttered rum, still known, if not consumed, by many today.

Only recently did I realise that the term toddy is evidently an affectionate diminutive for the term tot. A tot of course is a drink, a tot of rum, whisky, etc. I guess diminutive is not the right word since the term toddy is longer than tot, oh well. :)

Gary

ILLfarmboy
01-28-2007, 16:16
Both these resemble hot toddies, very popular in the 1800's.

Irish saying: what whiskey and butter [meaning, a buttered whiskey toddy] can't cure, there is no cure for".

Gary

My Grandma (Scots/Irish) use to say that but I thought it meant a lifestyle that involved eatin' a lot of butter and having a daily dram was good for ya.:slappin: when I was sick I much prefered the hot toddies she made to that damn cod liver oil!

Gillman
01-28-2007, 16:23
Well, thanks for that, and your interpretation may be right. I assumed the hot whisky was buttered because of the existence of the hot buttered rum, but your interpretation, which sounds close to source, may be the correct one, thanks again.

Gary

ILLfarmboy
01-28-2007, 16:50
Well, thanks for that, and your interpretation may be right. I assumed the hot whisky was buttered because of the existence of the hot buttered rum, but your interpretation, which sounds close to source, may be the correct one, thanks again.

Gary

The interpretation was strictly mine not grandma's. My Grandma passed away in 1999, Grandpa died in 1986 so I can't ask them. I recall the toddies she made were basically a whiskey sour served hot. It may have had butter in it, who knows, I was very young. I'm curious about the etymology of that saying. Think I"m gonna look into that farther.

ThomasH
01-28-2007, 17:19
I usually cut my whiskey with a bit of ginger ale if not drinking straight!

Thomas

T47
01-28-2007, 18:05
I pretty much drink it neat. Once in a rare while with ice, or a splash of water. When I am feeling really creative I will try the same pour in a variety of ways. I have added ice, a splash of water, hot water, or just heated up the glass over very hot water...like Brandy I guess. Personally when I have heated it in one way or another the biggest change is in the nose...it really seems to intensify it for me.
But most of the time I like it neat. Just heated up in my hand as I sit back and relax.

JRomain
01-28-2007, 23:34
Personally I think the whiskey totally dictates what it needs. For example there is not a Van Winkle that I've added water too and found any improvement, but last night I was drinking Willett Estate Rye and found it to be way too harsh straight; however upon adding enough water to proof it down to maybe 110 it opened up and was truly an exceptional whiskey.

Plain and simple if it seems tight or constrained, splash some water in and see what happens, but not too much!

I ain't going to pretend to know much about scotch, but am pretty sure most are already lower proofs than typical bourbon, i.e. they run closer to 80 proof than 100; therefore watering it down would probably make it even worse.


Diluting the whisk(e)y will not necessarily lessen the harshness. For instance, WT RR 90 is far harsher than the RR 101.

JRomain
01-28-2007, 23:36
I generally cut anything above 107 proof. How much? "A splash" is as close as I can come to defining it.

As for whether or not water "opens it up," Jim Murray and others who drink a lot of both American and Scottish whiskey say that American whiskey is already so "in your face" that water has little effect in that regard. I'll take their word for it. I don't drink enough scotch to be able to compare. Also, they say that if you're adding water to "open it up," you only need a drop or two. Obviously, that doesn't lower the proof significantly.

\
And tha's the key. Adding water is NEVER to dilute the spirit, but rather to unlock those bonds.

Edward_call_me_Ed
01-29-2007, 03:50
I usually don't cut my whiskey unless I am making a cocktail with almost always means a manhattan though I do have a bourbon and coke once in a while.

One whiskey that I do often cut is the Thomas Handy. I just like it better at a lower proof. I get more of the cinnamon note that way for one thing. Maybe I should experiment more. I doubt that I would have noticed this with the Handy if it hadn't been for the bottle of Baby Saz I had open at the same time.

Ed

scopenut
01-30-2007, 13:53
I used to drink bourbon almost exclusively on ice, now almost exclusively neat. I guess I'm drinking better bourbon :grin:

-Kevin

doubleblank
01-30-2007, 20:34
This thread reminds me of one of the funniest lines I ever heard at the Gazebo. From our own Ed....AKA.....Pepcycle.....Bourbonian of the Year 2005.

"If these guys added water or ice to their bourbons, you'd think they were comitting ego suicide." Nuff siad.

Some whiskeys do taste better with a little water or ice. But drink it any way you like it all.

Randy

mbanu
02-01-2007, 17:44
Cutting my bourbon with ungodly amounts of water (usually cut it down to wine strength) is my main method of drinking it. :) Love the stuff, especially made with barrel-proof bourbon.

RoyalWater
02-01-2007, 18:26
A Scottish relative introduced me to cutting whiskey with water. She said that the practise is common among Scotch drinkers. I like to add water as it does indeed reveal the characteristics of the beverage better. I would never add more than half a shot of water to a shot of liquor. Bars tend to over-dilute the liquor, especially if ordered with soda (which I also like). Someone also mentioned changing the temperature of the beverage. Temperature is something I have also experimented with. Even bad bourbon is drinkable when chilled to a temperature suitable for beer. On the other hand, heating bourbon intensifies its fire. What I like best is to add cool (not cold) water to room temperature bourbon.

jburlowski
02-02-2007, 06:04
Some whiskeys do taste better with a little water or ice. But drink it any way you like it all.

Randy

I couldn't agree more... to each his own. There is simply no one right way to drink bourbon.