For some whiskey drinkers, it’s neat or nothing. I generally abide by this rule as well unless I’m dripping some water into a dram of single malt to open it up a bit. But those that like to add water in liquid or frozen form to their bourbon now have the option of buying bottled water sourced specifically for their drink. Old Limestone is a Kentucky-based company that sells its water, sourced from “an ancient limestone aquifer that runs underneath the Kentucky bluegrass region,” in a 750 ml bottle for $9.95 (a 1 liter PET bottle is also available for $3.95).
But can you actually taste the difference using bottled water versus tap? Is this the real deal or just a gimmick? Perhaps my palate isn’t refined enough, or maybe I’ve burned out my taste buds from the cask strength whiskey I so often enjoy, but I really could not taste the difference between free water or fancy water in my bourbon. Old Limestone founder Doug Keeney, of course, disagrees. After first trying it, “the bourbon seemed to explode with life and flavors, and be what it was supposed to be,” he told me. He talked with some master distillers who offered a scientific explanation for what he thought he was experiencing. “It seems the calcium and magnesium make the water smoother and bind with the flavor agents to deliver more impact in your mouth,” he said. “The Kentucky aquifer also filters out the harsh irons which would turn a bourbon mash black.”