Big rocks, better bourbon

Big rocks, better bourbon
July 9, 2020

Ice is ice, right? Shape and size don’t really matter, do they?

Actually, they do, according to bourbon aficionados who buy special trays that make large cubes or balls of ice.

The idea is that large cubes melt more slowly than smaller pieces, leaving just the right amount of water in the drink. This is a big deal for bourbon drinkers who love the specific taste profiles of their favorite brand—the slower the melt, the less danger of it becoming too watery before you finish.

There’s some science behind this idea. A big cube melts more slowly because it has less surface area than there would be on multiple smaller cubes — and a sphere exposes less surface area for the same amount of volume than a cube. The less surface area that is exposed to the warmer bourbon, the slower the ice will melt.

There’s even some science behind the idea that adding a little water improves the taste of bourbon. Well, there’s a lot of science behind this idea! -- according to two Swedish researchers who ran “computer simulations of water-ethanol mixtures in the presence of guaiacol, providing atomistic details on the structure of the liquid mixture.” 

As you can see from that sample, the original research may be a bit tough to digest, but an article on the CNN website makes it easier to understand. The article points out that “when whiskey is diluted, the alcohol is driven to the surface, and many of the taste molecules follow it because they like to be in a slightly less aqueous environment.”

Because of the wonderful complementary aspect of Louisville pure tap® and bourbon, Louisville Water partners with several Kentucky distilleries, including Michter’s and Peerless, which are among the world’s best producers of bourbon taste molecules — and we’re probably the only water utility in the world with a dedicated bourbon section on our website.