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Why you might wanna drink whisky with water

finest day neat whisky

We don’t mind how you drink your whisky. If it works for you, it works. 

Some people prefer whisky neat. Others with a twist. Many in a cocktail. And a few, with a dash of water. Some whisky connoisseurs might object, but adding water to your spirit can open up more flavour and make your whisky taste even better.

Here we answer your most commonly asked questions about whisky and water. It might just be your new order.

Is it good to drink whisky with water?

Absolutely. Adding a splash of water to whisky can make it a more enjoyable drinking experience. It can elevate the whisky’s taste and changes the strength of the spirit. Great news if you’re not a fan of a whisky burn. 

What does adding water to whisky do?

You don’t mess with science. And science says that adding a small splash of water to whisky actually boosts its natural flavour. By diluting the alcoholic strength of the whisky, it changes the dynamic of compounds and molecules in the glass, bringing more flavour to the surface of the liquid. 

As a result, you can expect more aromas as you sip your dram. And it will alter the overall taste too. You might discover new notes such as heightened spice, fruitiness or vanilla. Adding water is a great way to experiment with new blends and find a new favourite by tasting whisky at home.

How to add water to whisky

There’s no rules when it comes to adding water to whisky. If you like it a certain way, stick with it. With that said, here’s some top tips for getting started.


Use room temperature water to blend with the whisky to avoid making it too hot or cold. This will allow the whisky’s natural flavours to stay front and centre.

But if you want a chilled drink, a Scotch on the Rocks is a classic choice. Using large ice cubes will cool the whisky without diluting it too much, slowly melting to add a few drops of water at a time. Just remember that ice will change the whisky’s flavour in a different way to water.

You can also warm things up with a Hot Toddy, a seriously comforting mix of whisky, boiling water and spices. Unlike ice, hot water elevates the whisky’s spicier, richer notes. So you might feel more of that whisky burn.

ballantines 30 year old on the rocks drink

Whisky on the Rocks

As the pinnacle in the Ballantine’s range, the 30 year old has been garnished with a simple cube of ice, in order to accentuate its natural depth and layers.

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ballantines finest hot toddy drink new

Hot Toddy

Curl up by the fire and stir some spice into the cold evenings this winter with this warming classic.

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What water should you use?

Tap, bottled, sparkling. The choice is yours. All waters taste different, which means they’ll affect the whisky’s flavour slightly differently too. So it might be worth kicking off with your favourite.

If in doubt, start with bottled spring water which will offer the purest blend when mixed with whisky.

How much water should you add to your whisky?

There’s no right or wrong answer to how much water you can add to whisky. It all comes down to what you think tastes best.

Our top tip is to go slow. Adding too much water at once can dilute the whisky more than you’d want. Start with a few drops from a pipette or teaspoon, stopping to sip and notice the changes to the flavour. Make note of when the alcohol burn disappears and when the flavours really start to pop.

Measuring as you go will also help you to know your preferred amount next time, but if winging it’s more your style, that works too.

Once added, gently combine the water and whisky by swirling the glass. This also opens up the liquid’s aroma, making those first sips even more enjoyable.

How to order whisky with water

Knowing how to order scotch is a great way to enjoy a dram out and about. And it couldn’t be simpler. 

Ask for whisky with a splash of water. Or if you’re not sure how much you want to add, go for a ‘water back’, which in bartending terms means a glass of water on the side.

You can also experiment with other ways to add water to your whisky. It doesn’t have to come straight from the tap. Try a Whisky & Tonic Water, a light, refreshing way to enjoy scotch in summer. Or combine with a cuppa in our Iced Green Tea cocktail.

However you drink your whisky, do it with Ballantine’s. We’ve got plenty more whisky drinks to try including the best mixers, scotch summer cocktails and first date drinks.

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