Mineral Water: Make it Clear

17 November, 2014

Its lack of influence and interruption on the palate means “if you are enjoying a whisky or cognac, Perrier will refresh the mouth of the taster and the bubbles will work on the tongue to keep it as its optimum point for tasting.” 

Along the same lines, Speyside Glenlivet water is described by brand manager Scott Dickson as “one of the purest naturally sourced mineral waters in the world”. Sourced from the highest naturally occurring spring in the UK on the Crown Estate of Glenlivet in Moray, the water has a low, balanced mineral content which “cleanses and refreshes the palate, making it the ideal accompaniment to fine dining” adds Dickson. “The composition of the water also makes Speyside Glenlivet the ideal pairing for whisky as it enables the true flavours to be enjoyed.”

At London’s Artesian, just crowned The World’s 50 Best Bars number one, head bartender Alex Kratena says different waters “can be really exciting to drink and to work with in cocktails”. But he also feels the carbon footprint of water needs to be kept in check. “I feel we shouldn’t be shipping water around the world, in the industry as a whole. At Artesian, we serve British water.” 

Although guests generally don’t brand call, some, as you might expect at Artesian, have “exact requirements”. “I’m not sure to what extent this is driven by taste vs marketing,” muses Kratena. 

Fellow 50 Best Bars academy member Thanos Prunarus at Baba au Rum in Athens also likes to keep it local. “We decided to use a unique mineral water from northern Greece called Xino Nero, which translates as ‘sour water’.” Like Conigliaro’s preference, it’s a water with its own flavour.

The water has been bottled since 1958 and, according to Prunarus, “scientific studies have emphasised the therapeutic action of this water – mainly in liver and kidneys”. Perfect for a bar, then. 

“It’s a great partner for a neat, dark, aged spirit, especially next to a rum or whisky. We serve it chilled or at room temperature and a few drops of it in a glass of the previously mentioned spirits opens their bouquet of aromas wonderfully,” he finishes. 

Back to the source

Taking the concept of water and spirits one step further, Uisge makes use of water from Scottish sources famous for whisky: Islay, Speyside and the Highlands. 

Speyside water is famously soft and a good explanation for the number of distilleries in the area. It filters through hard granite and avoids picking up large amounts of minerals from the ground. 

Highland water, on the other hand, is harder, because it filters through brittle rocks and collects lots of minerals along the way. 

Islay water is relatively acidic, thanks to the peat. Uisge founder Lindsay says the PH and mineral content of water can heighten the taste of whisky. 

And Uisge Source has attracted quite a following – it’s now in more than 100 bars in the UK, including Scotch Malt Whisky Society, the Balmoral Hotel and Bon Accord bar in Glasgow. Further afield, the message of Uisge Source water has spread to Lab bar in Shanghai, Park Hyatt Hotel in New York, the Hermitage Hotel in Monaco and Feather’s Bar in Toronto. 

The company’s latest launch is Aberfeldy Distillery’s water from the distillery’s water source – created for adding to Aberfeldy whisky.  

Lindsay says a top quality single malt needs “the best accoutrements, including the right glass and the best water to accompany it”.

To appreciate single malt at its best, the water added should be at room temperature. “For drinking water, many bars will have larger bottles of water that are chilled. Tap water can also be too cold as well as having added chemicals that will taint the spirit,” adds Lindsay. Bartenders can get special cases of Uisge Source that include a selection of waters as well as a pipette and support material to help them navigate their way through the depths. 

Water’s effect on taste won’t interest everyone and many drinkers won’t even notice what they are imbibing but, for those who value the little extras, the need to serve the right water in the right way is clear. 

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