WATER & WHISKEY
Anyone who stands on the coast of Northern Ireland and directs their gaze towards Scotland, will understand why such a rough and intense but also noble drink like whiskey originated right here.
THE WATER OF LIFE
"Uisge beatha", the Gaelic term for whiskey, means something like "water of life". We thus know that from time immemorial, elementary components and whisky have been combined to create the taste of this gold-coloured spirit, especially when water is added, opening up totally new taste experiences.
A WORLD OF FLAVOUR WITH JUST A DROP OF WATER
Pure or diluted? There is a strong difference of opinion as to whether water should be added to whiskey. One side argues that adding water is a despicable act of sacrilege, while the other staunchly continues to add water drop by drop into their glass of peaty or smokey gold. This result of this amalgamation is a silent explosion, a liquid cloud, and symbolises the very unleashing of taste.
Joe Magowan knows this ritual in the nosing glass only too well. Born and bred in Belfast, he has turned his passion into his profession. Since 2017, he has travelled near and far as an Irish whiskey ambassador of the triple-distilled spirit, previously he worked for many years in a specialised whiskey shop. With his bushy red beard, his traditional yet modern charisma, and well-trained sensory system – one could hardly imagine a better ambassador. Ever since, through his close relationship with the country's barkeepers and distillers, he has spread the art of enjoying whiskey to the people. He is not interested in collecting expensive bottles that will never be opened.
Everyone is free to decide how. In this respect, Joe is a total individualist. First and foremost, he is tolerant and does not set any rules. Of one thing he is sure, however: "The addition of water alters the taste of whiskey." Not least because this process reduces the alcohol content. At the same time, water unleashes facets that would otherwise remain hidden away from the taste sensors. As Joe knows well: "A drop of water can open up a whole new world of flavour in a glass of whiskey".
This perception was also recently confirmed by science. A Swedish research duo was able to prove that with an alcohol content of around 40 ABV, the important flavour carrier for whiskey, guaiacol, moves to the surface. With a higher alcohol content, the substance swashes lower down in the glass. The water reduces the alcohol content, allows the guaiacol to rise once more and helps it to develop better, giving the whiskey a more intense taste. Before whiskey is bottled, as a rule the alcohol content is reduced from 50 to 60 ABV to the more common 40 to 45 ABV.
Joe Magowan, Whiskey ambassador
WATER? BEST DRUNK NATURAL AND PURE!
While the amount of water in your tumbler is a variable that should not be added at will but according to personal preference, the choice of water should be made carefully, according to Joe Magowan, who recommends: "I would definitely dilute pure whiskey with still water, that adds as little as possible of its own taste, in other words that contains only a conservative amount of minerals."