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Whisky & Water? ...By Steph

Some say “a drop of water is the best way to enjoy your dram”

Some say “whisky is best served on the rocks”

Some say “whisky is to be enjoyed straight; out of the bottle into a glass”


I say “whisky should be enjoyed... (Full stop)”


Why Add Water?



Water can alter a whisky in both positive and negative ways. Most whiskies at between 40 and 46% ABV have already had water added prior to bottling. This is called “cutting” and is to bring the ABV down to a more consumer friendly strength. The water used for this is spring water, sourced locally to the distillery.

Tasting whisky without any water at all is great as you taste the dram in its natural form, “just as the distillers wanted you to taste”.

But by adding a drop of water, the whisky can offer a more gleaning insight into what it is telling you; about its characteristics and how it was made. New and subtle flavours can be released that would otherwise be overlooked or missed.

Cask strength whiskies are a great example of this. Because of the higher ABV it may be difficult to bypass the “heat” from the spirit to experience the whisky’s flavours and characteristics. Adding a little water will also allow you to nose your whisky, without singeing  your sinuses (figuratively speaking) as smelling your whisky is one of the most important parts of the experience, as tasting it is simply to confirm what your nose has already told you.


Why Add Ice?

Adding ice to your whisky can make it a more refreshing beverage; cooling the alcohol, so the heat of the spirit is more of a delicate warmth.

But it can also make your whisky taste dull and locks away all the wonderful flavours of the whisky. Most whiskies are best enjoyed at room temperature.

Although, from a creative perspective, if ever you want to photograph your dram, ice in a glass of whisky looks great!


Each Whisky is Different


whisky cocktail

Other serving suggestions for whisky can be in the form of longer drinks, using mixers. Don’t be embarrassed if you enjoy a whisky and Soda or whisky cocktails. I enjoy a drop of Ginger Beer in some whiskies, such as Auchentoshan Classic. Some younger bourbon or blended whisky is made for this style of serving. You wouldn’t use your most expensive malt in a hot toddy now would you? Unless you can afford to, that is.



Whether you prefer your whisky with a drop of water, over ice or straight, the main thing is...you have whisky in your glass, and that can only be a good thing.

For me, it depends on what mood I’m in, the weather, or whatever I have left in my whisky cupboard. The strength, or ABV (Alcohol by Volume), of the whisky, and even the style of the whisky can also adjust how I serve my dram.

My advice would be: try your whisky in its natural form first, and experiment with ice and water, to find how you feel the chosen whisky will be enjoyed best, by you and your palate.

When I come to pour myself a whisky, I pour a small measure in to a glass, taste it (after nosing it for about 15 minutes, and delving into a little nostalgia) and then add, if I see fit, a teaspoon of water. I personally rarely use ice; unless I’m serving a long whisk- based drink such as Auchentoshan Classic and ginger beer.

Only you will know how you will savour and enjoy your whisky.

For more advice on Whisk(e)y, stay tuned for more from Steph's Whisky Blog.

Sláinte! & remember, drink responsibly.


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