Adding water to whisky is often seen as a contentious topic – some do it as a matter of course, others see themselves as ‘purists’ and turn their nose up at the idea, but it can have many benefits. Let’s explore why you should add water to whisky, and the advantages of doing so.

Whisky Doesn’t Exist Without Water!

Water plays a vital role in the production of whisky, from the initial extraction of sugars in the mashing process, to the final dilution of the matured spirit before bottling (I’ll cover the process another time). There is a reason that whisky originates from the gaelic term *uisge beatha* (pronounced ooshky bay-ah), meaning Water of Life.

When whisky is made, it is usually diluted before being bottled. This dilution helps to bring out the flavour and aroma of the whisky, as well as make it easier to drink neat. Adding water to whisky is termed ‘cutting’ in the industry and it is typically the mater blender that ‘cuts’ a whisky down to the desired strength by adding water. This can be to achieve a consistent flavour profile and mouthfeel or to lower the ABV to meet certain regulations or to reach a certain price point. However, when whisky is bottled, it is usually at a higher proof than what is considered ideal for drinking. This is where adding a small amount of water to whisky can help.

Why Add Water To Whisky

Adding a small amount of water to whisky can help to bring out the flavours of the whisky, making it more enjoyable to drink. It does this due to the unique way water mixes with alcohol, so the alcohol becomes less prominent and allows the natural oils and compounds rise to the surface and become more prominent – this is what is meant when people say ‘opening up’ the flavour. Water also helps to reduce the sensation of alcohol burn, making it more pleasant, especially if you are just starting out on your whisky journey. Science now backs this up too – if you’re interest you can read more about that here.

What Kind of Water Should I Use?

It is important to note that the type of water you use to add to your whisky can affect the flavour. Soft or filtered water is generally the best to use, as it will have fewer impurities which can affect the taste of your whisky. Depending on where you live, tap water can have a lot of chemicals and minerals which can also alter the flavour profile of the whisky, and it is best to avoid using it. The same goes for mineral water; the mineral profile of the water can affect the taste. If you are looking for a more natural water to use, then it is best to opt for spring water.

How To Add Water To Whisky

Adding water to whisky is simple and easy. All you need to do is add a few drops of water to your whisky and stir or swirl your glass gently.

If it is a whisky you have not had before, it can be a good idea to try the whisky neat first to get a feel for it and how much you think it will need, then just add a couple of drops of water at a time, and see how it can subtly change the flavour. Repeat until you are satisfied. The next time, you will have a better idea of what it needs or what you like to you can perhaps add a splash.

Using a normal jug can make it easy to add too much water though which can result in the whisky becoming too diluted, making it taste weaker and less enjoyable. So it is important to be careful when adding water and only add a small amount at a time. It is easy to tell if you’ve gone too far though as it will generally take on a cloudy appearance, and you will know you have drowned your dram.

There are a few tools available to add water to whisky; you can use a pipette which is like a glass straw which lets you lift a small amount of water and drop it in your whisky. Or there are bulb droppers that let you add single drops of water at a time, but these can look quite clinical. But now there is also Ooshky®, the whisky water jug that gives you full control. You can add a few drops by covering the hole and shaking it, or you can release your thumb slightly to get a small splash if you know you’d like a bit more. Handmade in porcelain it is a lovely accessory to have and it can be a talking point when drinking with friends.


Adding a little bit of water to your whisky can be a great way to enhance its flavours and get the most from your dram. It can also help to make it a more enjoyable experience. Of course, it’s a controversial topic and everyone has their own opinion – but the science is behind it so it’s worth giving it a try if you’re looking to explore your whisky’s unique flavours, and what better way to do it than with a beautiful whisky water jug, Ooshky!