WHY YOU SHOULD ADD A FEW DROPS OF WATER TO YOUR WHISKEY. I have read a number of times that you should add a “splash” of water to your Islay whiskey even if you are drinking it neat. It seemed to me that adding water would be a matter of taste and that adding water could dilute the experience. Sometimes I added a little water and sometimes I didn’t.
This post on the phs.org science site reports on research by Bjorn Karlsson and Ran Friedman of Linnaeus University in Kalmar, Sweden which provides a scientific basis for adding the drops of water.
The smoky flavor of Islay whiskey comes from flavor-packed molecules known as phenols, and to one in particular called guaiacol. Laboratory simulations showed that adding a splash of water makes guaiacol rise to “the air-liquid interface” (which is also where the lips meet the whiskey).
I now always add some drops of water to the surface of my whiskey.