Diluting Whisky With Water
Written by William Fryer - MA Oxon
Water is a strange commodity. It is so simple, ubiquitous and essential to us that most see it as one of the most normal things in life. It is only when we are taken outside our comfort zone do we begin to notice it. If you have moved from your hometown to a different city, you probably had a shock when you first drank the water from the tap. It tasted different. It is still water, but it is not the water you knew and were accustomed to.
Aside from the health aspect of contaminants in water, every area and region has different tasting water. It will come from a different reservoir, it will be treated by a different plant and different chemicals will be removed and added. For some people the taste of water from an area they are not used to is often unpalatable at first swig. People often buy bottled water from supermarkets to get something they like. This is fine if you are not interested in the health benefits of distilled water, but what if you are a connoisseur of something special, like fine whiskies?
Producers of alcoholic drinks go to great lengths to protect their water source. Many whisky producers say that access to their own wells and their own water supply is a key reason for their particular type and taste of whiskey. Beer producers setting up licensed breweries in different continents lament that they cannot get the same taste from their beer because of the differences in water. Water is essential to the taste of fine liquors, cocktails and beers.
If you are a whisky drinker the chances are you know all about cask whisky. It is a whisky that is usually matured for longer in the cask, and with only the natural dilution from the distilling process. It is expensive and to many people it is the finest example of a quality whisky. Its alcohol strength is usually between 60% and 65% and it is up to the drinker to dilute it to their tastes, allowing for individual freedom in how the whisky is consumed.
Every time you dilute a whisky, be it cask or bottle you are taking a chance. You have removed an area of control from the distiller’s master blender and put your own spin on things. And with water from the tap or from a supermarket bottle you have so many possible variations that you may never get the same taste from the whisky again. With a water distiller you take these chances away. The water distiller will remove 99.8% of the impurities in the water and give you repeatable, consistent tasting water. What better way to ensure you that always get the same taste from the dram of whisky you know you love.
Even with other drinks like a gin and tonic or a cocktail the ice you use can have a drastic effect. The top cocktail bars all ensure that their water remains the same from week to week and month to month. If you’re a fan of quality alcoholic drinks, a water distiller may be the missing ingredient in ensuring you have the best-tasting drink possible.