If you’re at all familiar with the world of whiskey, you’ve likely seen people prepare their glasses with a splash of water. Adding water to your whiskey may seem like a risky thing to do, but it can actually make the whiskey more flavorful by mellowing out its harsh burn. The key, however, is using the correct amount of water.


First thing first: during the production of whiskey, water is already added. Legally, rye, bourbon, and corn whiskey can be no more than 160-PROOF, OR 80% ALCOHOL.

As for enjoying your whiskey after its production, adding water, as well as how much you choose to add, comes down to personal preference. Many people water down their whiskey to enhance its flavor—a trend backed by SCIENCE. Guaiacol, a compound that contributes to the flavor of scotch whiskey, accumulates at the surface of the glass when water is added, making it easier to enjoy the smell and flavor.

Whether you add ice to your whiskey is also a matter of personal preference. LOWERING THE TEMPERATURE of your whiskey can help ease the harsher flavors, and as the ice melts, it will have the same flavor-improving effect as adding water.

Water to whiskey ratio

There is no specific (or right) way to mix whiskey and water. Little by little, add water to your whiskey until it’s at the perfect water and whiskey ratio for your palate. Remember: every palate is different, but the less water added, the stronger your drink will be! Since bourbon has such a robust flavor, many people dilute it up to a 1:1 ratio: 50% WATER AND 50% WHISKEY.

If you want to get technical, try following THIS FORMULA. Take the amount of whiskey and divide it by the water you add plus the amount of whiskey. Then, multiply it by the whiskey’s proof, and you’ll have the proof of your watered-down whiskey:

(Amount of whiskey) ÷ (water added + amount of whiskey) x (bottle proof)

For example, 2 ounces of 100-proof whiskey with an added ½ ounce of water would result in an 80-proof glass.

If you’d like to learn more about the different ways to serve and drink whiskey, then BARREL MILL can help! Check out our BLOG for more articles, and if you’re interested in stepping into the homebrewing scene, be sure to check out our selection of American WHITE OAK WHISKEY BARRELS.