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Whisky Words: Water

Whisky Words: Water

Vic Cameron, one of our whisky lecturers says: “Water is one of the main raw materials that we use in making single malt Scotch whisky, the others being yeast and malted barley. In my opinion, the water doesn't have a big impact on the quality but that is up for debate. In the production process, water is used for steeping, mashing, cooling and dilution.”

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Water is an essential word to know if you love Scotch whisky for several reasons:


As Vic says, water plays a crucial role in the production of Scotch whisky. It is used in various stages, including steeping, mashing, fermentation, cooling and dilution before bottling. And while Vic may not be convinced, there is an argument that suggests the quality and source of the water can impact the whisky’s flavour profile. Distilleries often pride themselves on their water sources, whether from natural springs, rivers, or boreholes.

A Sense of Place

Water has always been a vital component in whisky production. Many distilleries have long histories and traditions tied to their specific water sources. Knowing about these traditions can deepen one’s appreciation for the craft and history of Scotch whisky.


Adding a few drops of water to Scotch whisky can significantly enhance its flavours and aromas. Water can open up the whisky, releasing volatile compounds that contribute to its character. This is particularly important for high-proof whiskies, where water can mellow the alcohol and allow subtler flavours to shine.

Tasting & Enjoyment

Understanding how water interacts with whisky can enhance the tasting experience. Whisky enthusiasts often experiment with different amounts of water to find the perfect balance that suits their palate. Some prefer a neat dram, while others find that a splash of water enhances their enjoyment. Remember, don't let anybody convince you that there is a right or wrong way to enjoy your whisky!

In summary, water is fundamental to the making, tasting and enjoyment of Scotch whisky, influencing its flavours, aromas and overall character. Understanding the role of water helps whisky lovers appreciate the complexity and craftsmanship behind each bottle.

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