The Science Behind Water and Whisky by Bowmore

by Ernie Ayres on March 7, 2013

With all of the hoopla surrounding Maker’s Marks decision and subsequent reversal to “water down” their whisky, there has been a lot of discussion about what that actually means.

Bowmore Water TilterMost expressions from most distilleries are “watered down”. That simply means that the whisk(e)y is cut to a final proof or ABV (alcohol by volume) strength. What most casual whiskey drinkers do not know is that most master distillers will tell you to add a splash or so of water to your pour…especially if it is a Single Malt Scotch.

Bowmore has put out an interesting piece on the Science of Water & Whiskey that is a must read for anyone even slightly interested in the Maker’s Mark fiasco or how water affects whisky.


Exerpt from

Bowmore and water


A lot of people ask us about whisky flavours, where they come from and about mixing whiskies with other things. One of the most polarizing question we get is, why add water?

So with this in mind Rachel Barrie, Master Blender at Morrison Bowmore Distillers along with Cara Laing, Bowmore Marketing Manager, have been working together to develop the Bowmore Water Program, not to tell you how you should drink our whisky but to give whisky-lovers an option to explore and let them make up their own minds.

“Bowmore is an amazingly complex and harmonious whisky with an enigmatic flavor spectrum,” says Rachel Barrie. “The spirit takes the drinker on a sensory adventure through sweetness and ocean spices with multiple layers of fruit and smoke. Adding water allows the drinker to unlock Bowmore’s waves of flavor on a journey through its creation. The taste adventure is just beginning.”


This is a battle that I have had with several of my Scotch drinking buddies for years now. One insists that adding water is simply not a manly thing to do. Another likes to add ice to his whiskey, and yes, he even adds ice to Single Malt. I prefer to add a few drops of water to a pour and see how that goes. If it is still too harsh, I will add a few more drops.

That’s part of the fun of discovering and drinking whisk(e)y. You can do it your own way (even if we normal people think that you’re crazy!).

How do you like your whisk(e)y? Neat? With ice? With Water? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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