Scientists Discover Exactly How Much Whiskey Can Get Watered Down Before It’s Not Worth Drinking

Whiskey being poured into a glass over ice


Whiskey is just one of many interests that attract plenty of gatekeepers who assert there’s a “right” and a “wrong” way to approach it.

That includes many people who would insist you’re disrespecting whiskey by mixing it with ice, which has the potential to dilute the spirit and reduce the flavors and aromas you’d get to experience by drinking it neat.

I can’t necessarily blame anyone who cringes at the idea of pouring an 18-year-old scotch or a bottle of bourbon with a triple (or even quadruple) digit value on the rocks, but at the end of the day, you should feel free to drink it however you see fit as long as you enjoy it.

There’s also evidence that supports the many experts out there who suggest adding a few drops of water to a glass of whiskey thanks to its ability to interact with certain molecules with the potential to enhance the flavor profile.

However, a new study suggests it’s also easy to take things too far.

According to KOMO News, researchers at Washington State University conducted an experiment in the hopes of determining how much H2O you can add to whiskey before reaching the point of no return prior to publishing their findings in the scientific journal Foods.

The team assembled a panel of trained whiskey tasters who were tasked with sampling flights comprised of 25 offerings across the flavor spectrum, as scotch, bourbon, rye, and Irish whiskey were all represented in the lineup that was assembled.

The paper asserts the experts were unable to definitively differentiate the whiskeys when it was diluted to 20%, which assistant professor Tom Collins (who should definitely helm a similar study concerning gin after this) asserted was the watered-down tipping point.

The study says the impact on aroma was the biggest factor stemming from the dilution while noting the smokiness that defines peated scotch has a tendency to transform into a fruity smell thanks to how water interacts with the compounds in the liquid.

Again, feel free to drink your whiskey how you like, but you’ve been warned.

Connor O'Toole avatar
Connor Toole is the Deputy Editor at BroBible. He is a New England native who went to Boston College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Frequently described as "freakishly tall," he once used his 6'10" frame to sneak in the NBA Draft and convince people he was a member of the Utah Jazz.