View Full Version : Water Importance

12-15-2001, 11:59
What are/ would the differences be if someone used any source of water, then distilled the water. Then used it to 'cut' whisky?

Is distilled water 'totally stripped' after it has been distilled?

Does the water's original properties still have a say in matters (of taste)?


12-15-2001, 13:24

When bourbon was first born water had everything to do with it. There were no fancy filtration devices, nor was there any reverse osmosis. A filter was pouring whiskey through your shirt or blanket. Things were very different then, but the spirit of freedom was there.

Taste some bourbon. Doesn't it taste clean; fresh, and pure? Now drink it. Feel it down deep in your soul? Does that not taste like America? Clean; fresh, pure, and soul stirring?

Sure you can use any water now and super-treat it. So what. I like my bourbon to be distilled from pure Kentucky water, and good quality corn, rye, and malted barley.

I could say more, but this will do nicely thank you.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

12-15-2001, 13:29
I didn't mean using 'swamp water' or anything like that.

But can you treat any water and use it, and it will taste okay?
I do prefer to drink kentucky water in my bourbon, rather than treated tap water. I am just asking whether the difference is so pronounced these 'clinically smooth' days?



12-15-2001, 14:10
Oh sure any good filter will do for 'branch water'. I prefer unfiltered and untreated water. I go up to a special spring that flows out of the side of Big Spy Mountian on the Blue Ridge in Virgina. The deer and bear both drink there. I drink there too.

Sure you can filter the character out of any water wether it is good or bad. So what? I want good pure sweet water that mother nature's children travel far and wide to drink without benifit of any filters.

If I drink from the same spring as the deeer and distil my whiskey from the very same source am I not closer to the surpreme ultimate then a highly filtered alternative?

It's not nice to fool Mother Nature.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

12-15-2001, 16:23
Water treatment is a very sophisticated science, but also costly. Distillation is one of the most costly processes. Considering the amount of water used, the cost would be significant. Typically, the water used to cut aged bourbon prior to bottling is demineralized.

Although some distilleries still use untreated spring water for distillation, others use "city water" and produce an equally fine product. Of course, the source of the "city water" is still Kentucky's aquifers, where the water is filtered naturally through limestone.

Water is a factor. That much can be said. Dissecting exactly what water contributes is more difficult.

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

12-16-2001, 17:55
I'll give you a few words about water and what's in it, then answer your

Things that are commonly dissolved in water:

1) Salts/"minerals". Things like sodium chloride, calcium chloride, etc. are
almost always in water. Lots of dissolved salts makes the water "hard".
Divalent salts (e.g. Ca ) will often precipitate out and cause "water deposits".
Iron salts can make water taste rusty. Heavy metal salts will give you
lead poisining, etc.

2) Gasses. There's plenty of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc. dissolved
in water. Carbon dioxide in particular is important since it readily turns into
carbonic acid, making the water slightly acidic. (This is entirely normal. As a
matter of fact, water tastes "funny" without the dissolved gasses.)

3) Chlorine. 75% of municipal water has chlorine in it to kill off the microbes.
It makes the water taste a bit like a swimming pool.

4) Misc. chemicals. Other junk... everything from hydrogen sulfide to caffiene
to ethanol. Generally only parts per trillion.

Your question specifically asked about distillation. So...
1) Dissolved salts are not volatile, so distillation will get rid of all of these.
2) When water is boiled, all dissolved gasses are driven off.
3) Chlorine is driven off as well.
4) The misc. chemicals will only be present in trace amounts, and the ones
that aren't stripped off by distillation don't matter all that much in terms of
taste since there weren't that many in there to begin with.

So distillation can basically clean up any water source...
The direct answer to your question is thus:
Drinkable spring water and municipal water will taste identical after distillation.

Is distilled water 'totally stripped' after it has been distilled?
Not neccessarily. Anything that has a boiling point near that of water
will be carried over in the distillation, but 99.9% of what we call drinking
water has so little of this stuff that it's pretty much untastable. (The human
tongue can't really detect parts per trillion).

As mentioned before, distillation requires a lot of energy, and is thus too
expensive to be a commonly used water purification method.

Filtering water (i.e. ion exchange resins and activated charcoal, like your
average Brita that you'd buy at Wal-Mart) will clean up chlorinated municipal
water nicely and make your coffee, tea, and bourbon taste much better.

Drinkable spring water and municipal water will taste "nearly identical" after

Much of the character of "branch" water, spring water, well water, etc.,
comes from the impurities... some people (myself included) like the taste
better than "clean" water, so we don't filter it. The tastes of these various
waters obviously depend on their source.