What is the point of arguing about adding water to whiskey or not?
There is no absolute correct way to DRINK a drink, just a number of ways to enjoy the same drink for different purposes: Pure enjoyment, a formal tasting session, trying to identify exactly all flavour components for accurate notes, getting drunk quick, etc. etc.
Personally, if I am seriously reviewing whisky, whiskey or rum for tasting notes, I would start by making sure I have an absolutely clean palate. This means that most of the serious tasting I do happens Sunday mornings, not for example in a bar after work day & food. I also try to do the tasting at least twice on different days, in order to verify results.
I start by trying the drink neat very, very carefully. I’ve seen plenty “tasters” gulp down 2cl in one go – ouch!! If it is a cask strength product, forget it, game over – so keep the sip tiny.
I then proceed to sip and add a little water, bit by bit increasing the water content over duration of 40 – 60 minutes, ending with a glass that’s about 60% water. This, I feel, allows me to get a full experience of flavours, and build the complete tasting notes.
When I do tasting, I will never add ice, because cold numbs the palate, and I am not interested if the product goes best with ice – or lemon, or coke for that matter. Mixology is a personal thing, and quite honestly, I’d rarely mix any of the products I taste. Cocktail reviews are a separate item in my books.
on the other hand, I would not recommend any drink ”with ice, lemon etc”, but I might state that a drop of water is good / not for a whisky, depending on what I feel brings the best out of that product. Some whiskies like most Rosebank’s do fabulously poorly with added water in my opinion, whilst some others are simply too strong or overpowering to properly open up without the added water.
I think the Count was well within his rights in suggesting a drop of water in a whiskey here, especially if one wishes to sample it’s full flavour palate. The point of his article, I believe, is precisely this - showcase how to get the full taste of the product on its own. If one aims just to drink it, one does as one wishes…