Editor’s Note: This product was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
Ah yes, the eternal question subject of much esoteric debate, family table arguments, and fistfights: do you put water in whisky? Some say diluting a fine whisky is a heinous act while others say a good whisky cannot be fully appreciated without water. For an entertaining overview, watch this amusing video by Richard Paterson, the master blender at Whyte & Mackay. It is good then that science has finally found an answer…. sort of.
Earlier this year, a Washington State University-led study found that dilution of a whisky beyond 20% water has a deleterious effect on the spirit. When multiple whiskies within a category were diluted beyond 20%, they all started smelling and tasting similar, losing their individuality. While not a definitive answer, it suggests that if you’re drinking on the rocks, finish it before the ice melts too much.
The study did find that adding some water changed the flavors, with bourbon shifting from predominantly vanilla and oak to corn and grain notes and scotch going from smoky to fruity “pome” notes. Thus, depending on what you want your whisky to taste like, adding some water may bring out flavors you prefer, or don’t prefer. Also, the study has one of the most detailed descriptions on where the flavors and smells in whisky come from (third paragraph of their introduction section).
So you’ve decided to add water. What now? Well, depending on what city you’re in, water can taste dirty, chlorinated, bitter, salty, metallic, etc… To avoid contaminating your whisky with these flavors, there are favorable waters which should be used to blend whisky. In October 2020, Mr. Devashish Kamdar sought to perfect a water designed to blend with whisky and founded Estuary. Estuary water is kept natural, is not exposed to any plastic pollutants, and goes through a 7-step filtration process “…including reverse osmosis, ozonisation, fortification, filtration, and UV ozonation. ‘These processes tone down the water so that it can be blended [sic] directly with the whiskey,’” Devashish explained.
In sum, this is very pure and clean water. Estuary water comes in a handsome looking glass bottle with a cool metallic top, and there are several waters specific to different spirits.
The Whiskey Wash was provided with a sample of Estuary Whisky Blending Water, which I evaluated in three steps: 1) a blind taste of different waters, 2) a blind taste of whiskey with added water, and 3) a whiskey without and with Estuary water. For the first two flights, I used four different waters, including Oregon tap water, the same tap-water but filtered, Simple Truth distilled bottled water, and Estuary Whisky Blending Water.
In the first tasting, the Simple Truth water and Estuary water came out on top, each pleasant and with no off-putting tastes. In the next tasting, I added the water to Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon. To my palate, two were a tiny bit better than the others: the Estuary-blended whiskey and ….. the tap water-blended whiskey. I was equally proud and disappointed in myself. In the final test, I preferred the Blanton’s with water added to the one without as it had more pronounced and complex aromas and was smoother to taste.
Impressions: For some time, I’ve been a proponent of adding some water to your whisky and this review confirms my opinion as it noticeably opens up the spirit. Luckily, I live in Oregon, which is known for having high quality tap water, so I’ll keep using that. However, for whisky enthusiasts who drink it on the rocks or who live in an area with noticeably unpleasant tap water, you could do worse than Estuary water.
Coming in at $4.50 for a 750ml bottle, it is affordable and is a quality product. Is it necessary? No. A bottle of purified water from the store will do just fine. Do you drink whisky worth several hundred dollars a bottle? For the same reason that I’d use premium oil and gas in a Ferrari but not a Toyota Camry, I would spring for the fancy stuff.
Read the full article at Review: Estuary Whisky Blending Water