AUG 24, 2017 05:48 AM PDT

Scientific Proof that Whiskey Tastes Better with Water

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
3 13 740

If you catch a bartender adding some water to your whiskey, consider leaving him a generous tip. Far from "watering" down your drink, the savvy bartender is actually making your drink taste even better.

But how could diluting a substance enhance its flavors? Intrigued chemists (who may also be whiskey connoisseurs) decided to find out. They focused on a chemical known as guaiacol, a "taste molecule" that gives whiskey its smokey profile. The chemists found that when water is added to whiskey, the guaiacol molecules rise to the surface, where they are most likely to come in contact with your tongue sooner. Hence, diluted whiskey seems to taste better.

"From a molecular perspective, water and alcohol don't completely mix," said Ran Friedman, a study co-author. "Instead, we have clusters of water molecules and clusters of alcohol molecules. When whisky is diluted, the alcohol is driven to the surface, and many of the taste molecules follow it because they like to be in a slightly less aqueous environment. The taste that we experience is therefore enhanced -- but there's a limit. If we dilute the whisky too much the concentration of the taste compounds is reduced and the drink will be meager."

So, next time you have a glass of whiskey, go against your intuition and add a few drops of water.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 03, 2018
Videos
JUL 03, 2018
List of Ten Marijuana Falsehoods
Matthew Santoro outlines ten lies about marijuana that are not accurate.
JUL 09, 2018
Videos
JUL 09, 2018
How Spiders Use Electricity To Fly
Spider rains, or ballooning spiders, are a natural phenomenon believed by scientists to be caused by the silken threads of these unique insects that genera
JUL 24, 2018
Videos
JUL 24, 2018
Measles are on the Move
Measles is a highly contagious disease that used to be common in young children. Due to the development of vaccines, however, it’s been almost eradic
JUL 25, 2018
Videos
JUL 25, 2018
How Dangerous is a Lightning Strike to an Airplane?
Lightning frequently strikes airplanes as they fly through the clouds thousands of feet above the Earth’s surface, but is there any reason for airpla
AUG 02, 2018
Videos
AUG 02, 2018
Which is More Damaging to Your Health, Alcohol or Weed?
Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the federal government, making it a challenger for scientists to conduct further studies and gather stat
AUG 07, 2018
Videos
AUG 07, 2018
Can "Going Keto" Affect Your Skin?
The ketogenic diet is quite trendy and is hailed by health professionals and followers for weight loss, metabolic benefits and cholesterol management. It i
Loading Comments...