I just ran my version of an experiment, first with a 10:1 ratio of water to vodka (I used Fleischmann's vodka). Tasted the plain tap water -- slightly sweet, with undertones of earthiness. The 10:1 water/vodka -- whoa, that's a lot of alcohol. And it really wasn't all that much -- if you figure it out by percent, that's approximately 10% of 40%, which is only 4% ethanol. But holy cow, that tasted not-so-yummy on a clean morning palate. It was a lot different than I might have expected. It tasted pretty dry and warming, not at all sweet. Reminded me of a bad martini. Is it what I would call bitter? I don't know. Maybe, but not exactly. I can almost see Gordon's point here, but to me it provides what I would call more "dryness" vice "bitterness". It really is more sort of a mouthfeel thing, I think, although the flavor was there -- it tasted like bad vodka, which it is.
Then I diluted the previous mixture 50/50 with more water, thus making it only 2% alcohol. Wow, what a difference! The drink became much much more palatable. At this point it was considerably more dry than plain water, again no sweetness, and still a tad of alcohol flavor, but not so distracting as before. Bitter? Again, I don't know. I really think it's more a sensation and drying effect in the mouth and throat versus an actual perception of bitterness. It's not like aspiriny bitter or hop bitterness, not to me. Just really... dry. A drying effect.