Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

If I Put Water in my Whiskey, Am I a Bad Catholic?

By Timothy Long

I’m not a good golfer. I can say that because I’m an honest person. Anyone who tells you that they’re a good golfer is probably not an honest person. Eighty percent of golfers never get a score below one hundred. Saying that you’re a good golfer is the same as saying that you’re a good Catholic. I was raised Catholic. There’s no such thing as a good Catholic. In fact, just saying that you are a good Catholic makes you a bad Catholic. By stating it, you have committed the sin of pride, which makes you self-righteous and a bad Catholic. Golf is similar, although not as intense. No one will tell you that you’re going to Hell for being a bad golfer. Although, a bad game of golf can feel like you’re in Hell.

A few of years ago, I was on a golf weekend for a friend’s bachelor party. I took the sport up later in life so, I had not been golfing for very long at that point. If I had taken up playing golf back when I took up drinking beer, I’d probably be a great golfer by now. But alas, I didn’t. Anyway, I was getting ready to tee off on a one-hundred-and-fifty-yard par three hole. The shot would be over water. Most players I know would hit a 5 or 6 iron on that shot. But, being fairly new, I chose to pull out a higher club, a 4 hybrid. One of my friends began to heckle and roast me for it. You know, guy stuff. Actually, in this case, fraternity brother stuff. After a few quick words in retort, I addressed the ball and hit my tee shot. The ball sailed perfectly straight and over the water, a rarity for me, and landed on the green just a couple yards short of the hole. My buddies all cheered. My fraternity brother, the heckler, stated that I had gotten lucky. I did get lucky. But this was my moment.  I decided to gloat and live in it by heckling him.

“Where’s the ball Dave? Where’s the ball?!”

Which, by the way, makes me a bad Catholic. Once on the green, I proceeded to three putt and bogey the hole.  Which makes me a bad golfer. So, I’m both a bad Catholic and a bad golfer. But I’m honest for admitting it. Which scores me a few points on the Catholic side, I think.

Anyway, there is a point to this story. If you enjoy doing something in a certain way, and that way works for you, don’t let anyone’s opinion affect it. People can be so judgmental. They will berate you, often jokingly, over the stupidest things. Which brings me to adding water or ice to your whiskey.

I like my whiskey on the rocks. I prefer to use several cubes, or one large one, and let it slowly melt. Some people drink their whiskey neat, no ice or water added. Others add only a few drops of water. I’ve often seen admonishment rise over this issue. Someone will start on a friend, or worse, a stranger, about how mush ice or water to add.

“You’re watering it down!”

“You’re ruining it!”

“I drink my whiskey the way God intended! No ice or water!!”

Stuff like that.

Yes, I’m sure that God cares how you drink your whiskey. Whiskey drinkers tend to have strong opinions about, well, everything. So, what does science have to say about this? Here is a quote from Whiskey Advocate’s article, “Why Should You Add Water to Whiskey?” from Calum Fraser, chief blender at Bowmore:

“Whiskey comprises alcohol molecules, water molecules, and various flavor compounds, which arrange themselves in a particular composition. However, when water is added and the alcoholic strength changes, so does the make-up of the compounds and molecules relative to each other, which in turn alters the flavor profile.”

Adding water, even in the form of melting ice, does open whiskey up. It brings out flavor. Most whiskey afficionados will agree on that point. Fraser Continues:

“Due to molecule-by-molecule variation in solubility in water, this can cause certain flavors to be more ‘visible’ to the nose, particularly those that are drowned by the alcohol at higher strength.”

In a nutshell, what he is stating is that when whiskey is diluted, certain flavor compounds go from soluble to insoluble and once hidden flavors are revealed. The whiskey “opens up”, as advocates like to say. How much water should you add? What kind of water? And at what temperature? The answer is whatever you prefer. It’s up to you. It’s what pleases your palate, not someone else’s.

So, should you add water or ice to your whiskey? Sure. It brings out flavors that would otherwise be hidden. I like trying different approaches with different whiskeys to see the effects. It’s just like being a golfer, sometimes an adjustment works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s not like being a Catholic. You’re not allowed to adjust Catholicism. Don’t even try. It will make you a bad Catholic. Trust me, I am one.

Tim’s Whiskey and Cigar Recommendations

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon

Yes, I know, it’s a unicorn. But it’s not impossible to find. And many fine restaurants and bars do carry it. I love this bourbon. The nose is woody, followed by hints of cherries and raspberries. As you inhale, you begin to get leather as well. The palate begins a little smoky, but then opens into molasses with peppercorn and coriander. It finishes with mild spices and butterscotch. Blanton’s always runs at 93 Proof. The price in Virginia, if you’re lucky enough to see it on a liquor store shelf, is around $80. The price in Maryland? All I can say is good luck.

CAO Flathead Sparkplug 450

This is a fun little cigar that will blend well with Blanton’s and most other bourbons. It starts with a mix of cocoa, pepper, and espresso notes with a hint of mocha. The cigar then becomes more earthy and nutty. It finishes with pepper, earth, and chocolate flavors. This cigar burns very well. And being only 4.5-inchs, it’s great as a quick afternoon cigar. It’s a perfect walking the dog smoke. My dog Crosby can verify it.  This cigar, and many other fine cigars, are available at John Crouch Tobacconist, 215 King St. Alexandria.

About the Author: Timothy Long is an educator, writer, consultant, and experienced restaurant operator. Email: tlong@belmarinnovations.com. Instagram and Twitter: @wvutimmy. Blog: What is that fly doing in my soup? http://whatflyinmysoup.com

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