Originally Posted by vaticanplum
I also grew up being told that you're never supposed to drink whiskey or bourbon totally straight. They dry out as they age, so you're supposed to add just a splash of water to release the flavor. However, I order whiskey this way all the time and most of the time the bartender misunderstands and gives it to me on the rocks or neat, so this may be an obscure/untrue thing as well. Really I know very little about whiskey, just that I like it. I'm not very discerning.
A lot of people do add a little bit of water for that very reason. Or, as I usually do, an ice cube or two accomplishes the same thing if you're sipping it slowly.
Some of the twice-barreled bourbons (Maker's 46, Angel's Envy, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked etc.) seem to benefit from a little "breathing" after going from bottle to glass, so I've read. Seemed to work for me with 46 although I don't claim to have a refined palate.