Photo via Flickr user James Nord
There is perhaps no kind of liquor snob who takes their snobbery more seriously than a whiskey lover, who will likely talk your ear off about the intricacies of the barreled beverage if given the opportunity.Now, one company is attempting to capitalize on the most fervent devotees of the amber liquor by marketing a niche bottled water that they claim will be your bourbon’s new best friend.At Old Limestone, a company solely devoted to selling bourbon-friendly water extracted straight from the streams of Kentucky, the humble act of mixing water and whiskey has been upgraded to an art form that they say every true fan of the spirit needs to experience.
While many whiskey snobs have long adhered to the notion that a few drops of water magically enhances the flavor of their single malts—after all, the word ‘whisky’ originates from the Gaelic word for ‘water of life’—some thirsty scientists recently delved into the water-in-whiskey mystery and discovered that the taste-enhancing power of H20 was owed to a certain molecule in the liquor, which is best activated when exposed to water.The idea for producing a water specifically geared towards their liquor of choice came to Old Limestone founders Barry Gluck and Doug Keeney over some glasses of bourbon that didn’t sit right.“The bartender shrugged and said, ‘It’s the water,’” Keeney tells MUNCHIES. When the pair looked into the issue, they learned just how big of a role the "mixing water" could play in the overall flavor: “Our bourbons were mixed with tap water, and the metallic water destroyed the taste and smoothness.”
The duo soon learned that the reason 95 percent of bourbon is produced in Kentucky is due to an “ancient limestone aquifer that filters out all the iron… and adds hints of calcium and magnesium.” This complex cocktail of minerals is what gives bourbon its characteristic “smooth mouth feel.” In order to maintain this distinct flavor after the addition of water, the H20 must ideally come from the same source, as to not disturb the distinct mineral mix.
According to Keeney, “In the old days, people would dip a pitcher in a creek and add this water to their bourbon.” However, the whiskey-loving friends figured they could class up—and capitalize on—the process by distributing this limestone-filtered water far and wide in bar cart-friendly packaging, so that bourbon drinkers across the country could experience their liquor like a true Kentuckian.The pair began bottling and selling water straight from the limestone aquifer, and soon earned the attention of whiskey snobs near and far looking to prove just who is the whiskey snobbiest of them all. Recently, Old Limestone took home a gold medal at the North American Whiskey and Bourbon competition, and—according to Keeney—has earned the approval of whiskey experts including Tom Bulleit of Bulleit Bourbon and Tom Johnson, the president of mixology training program Aroma Academy.
Though whiskey-centric water might be viewed as a gimmicky gift for the over-the-top whiskey lover in your live, Keeney aspires to make their Kentucky water a staple in any bar that takes their malt and rye seriously, and has already gotten Old Limestone secured behind the bar at a number of restaurants and watering holes.For those interested in snagging some of the Kentucky elixir for themselves or the bourbon elitist in their life, bottles currently go for $9.87—significantly cheaper than making a personal pilgrimage to the creeks of Kentucky… and a lot drier, too.