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Why the temperature of your water matters with whiskey

Glass with one ice cube in it sitting on a brown surface with a black background

If you’ve been following RackHouse Whiskey Club for long, you know that water is one of the most important elements in making and enjoying whiskey. We’ve talked about how water is one of only three ingredients in whiskey and how adding a drop or two of water to your glass actually helps to “open up” the flavor. But, did you know the temperature of your water matters? To get the most flavor out of a glass of whiskey, the water temperature might be the most important point yet. 

The best temperature to drink whiskey

The temperature of a drink has a big impact on its flavor and the experience of drinking it. Just think of a lackluster sip of lukewarm coffee or a mind numbing brain freeze from an ice-cold drink. According to Food and Wine, we taste fewer flavors in cold drinks than warm drinks. Here’s why: channels in taste buds perceive fewer flavors at colder temperatures. The same is true for scorching hot beverages. So, while a whiskey on the rocks or a hot toddy are certainly delicious, the deeper, complex flavors of the booze won’t shine. To get the most nuanced flavor out of a glass of whiskey, drink it at room temperature, between 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. In that temperature range, the most subtle, complex flavors will take center stage. 

As with any matter of taste, the temperature of your drink comes down to preference. More delicate flavors are best enjoyed at room temperature, but drinking whiskey in a cocktail or on the rocks can lessen the harsh edge of this booze, which makes slow sipping more enjoyable for many. According to Russell Greene, bartender at Castle Hot Spring resort’s Bar 1896, younger drinkers at his bar are most likely to order cocktails, while the over 40 crowd leans toward whiskey neat or on the rocks. He believes it takes time to develop an appreciative palate for whiskey, so younger drinkers may shy away from its bracing flavor. No matter your age or your palate, experiment with water temperature and learn what temperature suits your taste buds best. 

How to get the most of out your drink

Following a simple combination of steps will guarantee a great tasting drink the next time you reach for a bottle. You just need a quality whiskey and the right quantity of water at the right temperature. But before you pour, keep the weather in mind. On a sweltering summer day, you may need to add a splash of cold water to your drink to bring the temperature down to 60 degrees. In the middle of winter, you may need to heat it up. It all depends on your climate and where you store your whiskey. 

For that perfect glass, pour yourself two ounces of room temperature whiskey and measure out some room temperature water in a separate vessel. Using a dropper (or eyeballing it), add water to your drink in small drops until you’re content with the flavor. It’s as easy as that.

If you’re looking for a simple way to try this technique to get the best flavor out of craft whiskey, then check out RackHouse Whiskey Club. RackHouse scours the U.S. looking for the best craft distilleries with the most interesting stories to curate a unique subscription box filled with full-sized bottles of hard-to-find small batch whiskey. We’re building a community of premium craft whiskey drinkers. And you’re invited! Join us

If you want to know more about different types of whisky, read reviews from whisky experts on They share valuable information about the flavors and characteristics of each whisky, helping you explore the diverse world of this popular drink.

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