Scotch drinkers say adding water makes the spirit taste better, and a new study shows why.
Two physical chemists walk into a bar. They order whiskeys, and a jolly Scotsman one stool over insists they add a splash of water to optimize the flavor of the spirits. Inspired by the smooth, smoky flavor, they vow to investigate a question whiskey enthusiasts answered decades ago: Does adding water to whiskey really make it taste better?
That’s the almost true story behind a paper published this week in the journal Scientific Reports. Bjorn Karlsson and Ran Friedman of the Linnaeus University Center for Biomaterials Chemistry are not whiskey drinkers, but Friedman did visit Scotland, and he raised an eyebrow at the locals’ dedication to watering down even the fanciest Scotch.
Like a good scientist, he wanted to test the assumption, so he teamed up with Karlsson and used computer simulations to model the molecular composition of whiskey.
There are two competing theories for why adding water to whiskey might improve the flavor, Karlsson said. The first suggests that adding water traps compounds that are unpleasant [ . . . ] More: Add water to whiskey. Science explains why it tastes better. – The Washington Post