My dad thought it was important that his daughters go into the world having mastered a few important skills: how to bait a fish hook, how to drive a stick shift, and the proper way to drink whiskey. I wasn't a very good student in the first two, but I do know how to sip my scotch. Cheers to you, Daddy-O!
The first part of this drinking lesson was to skip the ice unless it's an incredibly warm day. Secondly, pour your poison of choice — bourbon, whiskey, or single malt — into a lovely, heavy-bottomed glass, and add just a splash, like the smallest splash, of water to your drink. Lastly, if enjoying whiskey out in the world, he cautioned to never let the bartender add the water to your drink as they're often heavy handed with task. Personally, I use a straw dipped in my "water back" to add a few drips to my bevvie. Perfection.
And now, it looks like my dad has science on his side. A new study found that adding water to whiskey enhances the flavor. To borrow terminology from the sommeliers, the water helps the whiskey "open up." The study went deep into the chemical interaction between the alcohol and water and found that water brought the compound guaiacol, responsible for the smoky flavor found in some whiskeys, to the top of the glass. Water and alcohol molecules don't fully mix; rather, they dance around each other with the water buoying up the flavor compounds found in the booze so it hits your palate to make an impression.
My suggestion: play around with the amount of water you add to your drink, but in my experience, it doesn't require much. One big ice cube (super on-trend in cocktails these days) will melt more slowly than a bunch of small ice cubes tossed in your glass, and add water to your whiskey at a slower rate. Plus it might just take the s,ting out of the first few sips.