The debate – “water, more whisky or ice?”

We just received the following e-mail from a gentleman in America which made me think about the old debate over what, if anything, should be added to (presumably to enhance) whisky.

“Can you believe it, here I am, 76 years of age and I recently purchased my first bottle of Sheep Dip. Man, what a surprise. It surpasses every thing I’ve had thus far. Dewar’s has been my bar scotch for every-day consumption; but, I keep the bar well stocked with various Glen’s for company and conversation.

What caused the transformation was my cardiologist getting after me to cut back to three drinks daily. To do so, I went to scotch on the rocks rather than with water (yeah, I know what you guys think of us yanks and our ice – but I’m too old to change) and, since Dewar’s doesn’t lend itself to this, I fell back on my Glen’s. Then one of my friends told me I should try Sheep Dip – best advice I ever got in my whole life.

All I can say is – some people are just slow learners. But the good news is, my computer has extended my warranty to age 85 with a possible option for four more years. Which means, I got all these years to enjoy the true refinements of life – Sheep Dip – and I know I’ll be going out in style”

Now….I was brought up to believe malt should be drunk alone and not on your own, I later learnt that a little water reveals the quality of whisky exposing the flavours and  reducing the fierceness of 40% or more alcohol.

Richard the master blender told me that the habit of drinking “scotch on the rocks” originates from when in warmer climates peoples but pebbles from river bottoms in their whisky to cool it – and ice after-all, is just cold water and reverts to water.

In the past ive drunk whisky with green tea in China, so as not to appear rude and ungrateful and been slightly bemused by a Japanese gentleman who insisted the best way to drink Laphroaig is with tonic water. So leaving the Jack and Coke or blended whisky with lemonade debate aside is there a right way to drink good whisky or is it  just down to personal preference ?

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3 Responses to The debate – “water, more whisky or ice?”

  1. Alex says:

    Water but only spring water tap water in the USA is chemical!

  2. Nev says:

    For me it has to be down to personal preference – everyone’s palate is different after all. I used to work in a bar with one regular who was very insistent on having only one ice cube in his whisky and nothing else.

    @Alex: I remember JR Ewing in Dallas drinking his whisky with branch water – which I think is another name for spring water.

  3. Michael Shoshani says:

    Here in the USA we are often told that adding a drop or two of water will open up the flavors and aroma of whisky. I prefer to drink mine neat without the addition of anything – even cask strength whisky.

    For a little over a century the US producers of whiskey, particularly bourbon and rye, have been held to a “gold standard” of 100 proof (50% abv), so many US drinkers of scotch whisky already consider the standard 40% and 43% bottlings to be slightly “under-proof” and are loath to dilute their spirit.

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