Monday, 13 December 2010
Do you add drops to your dram?
As much debate as there is about how you should get served your pint, there is and always has been a similar debate on how to get served your whisky. - Do you add a few drops of water? a couple of cubes of ice? maybe a splash of ginger? And if your thinking 'I have mine with coke' then don't bother reading on. There is a thought amoung many whisky drinkers that if you add water you are doing something unspeakable, just like a bunch of northerners in a southern pub complaining that all the beer is flat.
The adding of water was not just about the flavour, it had a much deeper past than that. To get into this though you have to know about chill-filtering and un-chill filitered whiskys. Today nearly all whiskys are chill-filtered, it's a method of filtering which removes some fatty acids, protiens and some esters which can cause a bit of a clouding haze in the whisky. In an un-chill filtered whisky if you add a dash of water it can cause this haze to be more prominant, so for most people chill filitering was mainly for cosmetics. In the past most whiskys were un-chill filitered, and you wern't seen drinking a cloudy whisky - so no water. Today a lot of distillerys release both kinds so you can have a choice.
For some though the big argument comes from the idea that chill filtering can remove some of the flavour, or 'essence', of the whisky. This in many ways can be related to a few beer discussions i've seen recently (sound familiar anyone?). I think there is a lot of truth to this point. For example I've not had chance to do a side by side comparrison but in case of Edradour the plot really thickens. Edradour chill filitered 10yr old is a classic single malt at 40% strenght. However Edradour un-chill filitered 10yr old comes in at 46%. Can it be purely the filtration process that removes this 6%? And if it is then surely it will effect the flavour.