Study found when whisky is diluted then more of the guaiacol compound can be found at the surface of the drink, thus enhancing its taste.
It turns out that a recent survey says that the popularity of whisky has been steadily rising with it becoming a favoured spirit for people, ahead of vodka.
The word “whisky” is derived from the Irish and Scottish Gaelic term “usquebaugh”, meaning “water of life”.
Therefore, the fact that the flavour of whisky can be enhanced by slight dilution, as claimed by a scientific study, should come as no surprise.
Researchers from the Linnaeus University in Sweden decided to explore how the addition of water or ice can affect the beverage’s taste.
Bjorn C G Karlsson and Ran Friedman, authors of the study published in Scientific Reports, used computer simulation to examine how different concentrations of water in whisky can impact its flavour.
The key to their research was analysing the reaction of three main components - water, ethanol and a molecule in whisky called guaiacol, which is a flavour compound that gives whisky its recognisable, smokey flavour.
Whisky is typically distilled to approximately 70 per cent ABV (alcohol by volume) and then diluted to around 40 per cent ABV, as explained by Karlsson and Friedman.
The duo discovered that when whisky is diluted so that it has an alcohol concentration of 45 per cent or lower, then more of the guaiacol compound can be found at the surface of the drink, thus enhancing its taste.
On the other hand, when whisky has an alcohol concentration of 59 per cent of higher, the guaiacol becomes far more surrounded by the ethanol molecules, which in turn makes the flavour of the beverage less potent.
The authors believe that diluting whisky before bottling it or serving it in glass could prove extremely beneficial to its taste when eventually consumed.