Research on types of whisky mixers published

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How you take your whisky, whether with ice, water or neat, can have a major influence on taste and flavour, according to research from the Linnaeus University in Sweden.

A study by Bjorn C G Karlsson and Ran Friedman into the effects of adding ice or water to whisky has been published in the periodical Scientific Reports. The research examined how different amounts of water reacted to whisky’s three main components, ethanol, water and guaiacol, a molecule which gives whisky its distinctive flavour.

Typically distilled to an average 70% ABV, whisky is then diluted to about 40% ABV during the usual process. The study found that guaiacol has a greater presence in the drink once this dilution has taken place, therefore enhancing the flavour. With whisky that has an ABV of over 45%, and therefore less dilution, the guaiacol molecules become swamped by the ethanol molecules, stifling the flavour.

Karlsson and Freidman, explained:

“Our findings may apply to other flavour-giving amphipathic molecules and could contribute to optimising the production of spirits for desired tastes.”

Around 25% of British drinkers claim whisky to be their favourite tipple, meaning that it is now more popular that vodka with the public. Adding water to enhance the flavour of a single malt whisky will be no surprise to regular drinkers of the spirit. Nor does drinking from the correct glass, such as an engraved crystal whisky glass, which can also add to the enjoyment of the ‘water of life’.

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