AUG 24, 2017 5:48 AM PDT

Scientific Proof that Whiskey Tastes Better with Water

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

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
NOV 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
Noise Pollution Threatens Norway's Orcas
NOV 12, 2020
Noise Pollution Threatens Norway's Orcas
Orca pods heavily depend on vocal communication for survival. Their unique ability to communicate with other pod members ...
JAN 19, 2021
Immunology
How Breastfeeding improves Infants Immunity?
JAN 19, 2021
How Breastfeeding improves Infants Immunity?
Breastfeeding benefits are well known for ages, and it has many positive impacts on infant's lives that continue wit ...
MAY 23, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Why Do Some Stars Vanish from Space?
MAY 23, 2021
Why Do Some Stars Vanish from Space?
Current theories suggest that stars undergo changes on timescales of millions or billions of years, and that their end i ...
MAY 28, 2021
Plants & Animals
Wild Gorillas Adopt Orphaned Babies
MAY 28, 2021
Wild Gorillas Adopt Orphaned Babies
An analysis of over 50 years of data reveals that with the help of their social group, orphaned mountain gorillas do jus ...
JUL 09, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Cluster of Free-Floating Planets Captured by Kepler Telescope
JUL 09, 2021
Cluster of Free-Floating Planets Captured by Kepler Telescope
The Kepler Space Telescope has captured evidence of mysterious free-floating planets, or planets that are alone in deep ...
JUL 15, 2021
Neuroscience
Like Humans, Rats Help Friends Before Strangers
JUL 15, 2021
Like Humans, Rats Help Friends Before Strangers
Just like humans, rats tend to help members of their own social group before strangers. The findings may help researcher ...
Loading Comments...