North Korea. Harvey. Irma. The Middle East. Your daily subway commute. Dan Rather recently posted to his Facebook page a reminder that sometimes pausing to enjoy life’s simple pleasures helps us cope. His preferred method is enjoying a glass of whiskey (which he takes neat with a water chaser).
Rather shared the Washington Post article, "The best way to drink whiskey, according to science," which gives a chemical answer to the age-old question, 'Does adding water to whiskey really make it taste better?' While the study quoted by the article was performed by non-whiskey drinkers, the authors are scientists, and took a chemical approach to getting to the bottom of the matter (at the bottom of the glass).
The first theory of adding water to whiskey postulates that water traps compounds that taste and smell unpleasant. The next, in contrast, proposes that adding water releases molecules that improve the flavor. Bjorn Karlsson and Ran Friedman of the Linnaeus University Center for Biomaterials Chemistry tested both, and found that the first theory was unlikely, because the fatty acid esters that may be blocked by water exist in such low concentrations that it didn't seem probable. However their tests determined adding water can cause other molecules to rise to the surface that can enhance the taste.
If you want to geek out and get all cerebral about the chemical details of why water is said to enhance whiskey, read the article. Or else just sit back, relax, and enjoy your glass!