Have you ever tried whiskey with a small portion of water? If not then do not try it with dilution for the first time, it will test better and incites you to drink more which is, of course, bad for your health and obviously for your buck pouch. Basically whiskey is made from barley, water, and yeast and the process of preparation is followed by chemically convoluted and ordered steps of malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, and maturation, and this overall take at least of three years. There exits a high proportion of starch in barley and this starch is the main ingredient to make whiskey. This starch needs to be converted into soluble sugar to make alcohol. With this alcohol formation process, the whiskey formation process starts and water is also added in a certain proportion.
During the process of making whiskey, it is diluted with a certain amount of water. Though the proportion of alcohol in the whiskey that we get on the final bottled whiskey is about 40% alcohol by volume, the initial solution of not refined whiskey contains about 70% alcohol by volume. Distilled malt contains about 70% alcohol by volume. Some alcohol will evapourates during the maturation and the resulted solution will contain about 55-65% alcohol by volume. Then before bottling, the resulted whiskey will be diluted to around 40% alcohol by volume reducing the strength of alcohol in the whiskey. To this, whiskey lovers often add some water and they believe this will enhance the test of whiskey and some researchers of Sweden make an experimental study to cross whether the whiskers believe is true or just an illusion.
No one till exactly knows why adding some water on whiskey glass made the test better. To solve this dilemma, chemistry researchers at Linnaeus University, Sweden- Björn Karlsson, and Ran Friedman tried to study the chemical properties and behavior of water diluted whiskey using the computer simulation technique. The report was published in the journal Nature.
The research team of Björn Karlsson and Ran Friedman carried the computer simulation of the water-ethanol mixture in the presence of guaiacol and they track how the ethanol molecules interact with water. To capture the molecular motions more precise the research team simulated the mixed solution using tiny time frames which is equivalent to half a trillion frames per second.
Their study showed that guaiacol was preferentially associated with ethanol molecules and that in mixtures with concentrations of ethanol up to 45% guaiacol was more likely to be present at the liquid-air interface than in the bulk of the liquid.
Karlsson explained, "the taste of whiskey is primarily linked to so-called amphipathic molecules, which are made up of hydrophobic and hydrophilic parts. One such molecule is guaiacol". Guaiacol is a substance that develops when the grain is dried over peat smoke for making malt whiskey and this process will provide the smoky flavor to the whiskey eventually improving the flavor of the whiskey.
Discussing more about the result, Friedman continues, "the finding suggests that, in a glass of whiskey, guaiacol will, therefore, be found near the surface of the liquid, where it contributes to both the smell and taste of the spirit. Interestingly, a continued dilution down to 27% resulted in an increase of guaiacol at the liquid-air interface. An increased percentage, over 59%, had the opposite effect, that is to say, the ethanol interacted more strongly with the guaiacol, driving the molecule into the solution away from the surface."
The finding from the study states that "the taste of guaiacol and similar compounds will be more pronounced when whiskey is further diluted in the glass. This taste-enhancement is counteracted by the dilution of guaiacol’s concentration. Overall, there is a fine balance between diluting the whiskey to taste and diluting the whiskey to waste. This balance will depend on the concentration and types of taste compounds that are characteristic for each whiskey."