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Adding water to whisky: Watching it curl?

 
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Capn Jimbo
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Joined: 11 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:40 am    Post subject: Adding water to whisky: Watching it curl? Reply with quote

Try to curl your mind around this one...


It is not at all uncommon to add a very few drops of water to any whisky - not to dilute it, but to release new and aromatic esters. But it is surely uncommon to observe the action and to possibly control it. Ergo, props to Peter Zimmerman, Master of Whisky...

Quote:
Peter Zimmermann, Master of Whisky:

With regard to cask strength whiskies, I typically present them in a Glencairn glass or a small stemmed tulip glass. It is important to have glassware that concentrates the aroma to the nose.

I also recommend a little splash of water. These whiskies are 55-60% alcohol, so they do benefit from a bit of water to ‘”open up”. It is best to nose the spirit first before adding water because then you can note the difference in the aroma after the addition of water.

Add just a few drops or just enough to “curl”. If you hold your whisky glass up to the light and tilt it slightly, add a bit of water until you see the water “roll” once in the bottom of the glass. Since we have two liquids with different densities, you can actually see the two mingle in the glass. The Irish call these little waves “The Serpent”.

Water is to whisky as air is to wine. It tames the heat of the “prickle”; that slight burn on the nose that comes from higher proof spirits. Water also breaks the surface tension of those oils in the whisky, allowing the full aromas to come forth. When tasting cask strength whiskies, I like to hold them on my tongue and work them around to all sides of my mouth. This way I can detect the sweet notes on the tip of my tongue, the saltiness on the sides of my tongue and experience the dryness in the back of you tongue and throat.


Now THAT is worth trying. And apparently common enough in Ireland to merit naming this effect. Perhaps we should all try chasing the serpent... please do, and do report!
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