Researchers Björn Karlsson and Ran Friedman focused on one specific part of the molecular chemistry of whisky when it is diluted with water - guaiacol. It is one of the key molecular compounds in the spirit and it what gives whisky its smoky flavor.
The research found that when water is added to whisky the guaiacol molecules are driven to the top of the glass resulting in an enhanced peaty taste.
Karlsson told Radio Sweden that their study looked at the behavior and chemistry of molecules, but they did not use taste tests as a measure.
“Taste and smell have a lot of variation – It varies from person to person. Some people might think having a lot of water in whisky, making it milder in taste and smell, is a good thing. Other people say that you should not put water in at all because they like the high ethanolic concentration in their whisky,” he said.