Many whiskey aficionados swear that whisky is best enjoyed at room temperature. However, when they say this, they usually mean “room temperature” in a cold castle somewhere in Scotland, which may be anywhere between 15 to 18 degrees celsius (widely considered to be the temperature at which whiskey should be consumed).
For people living in a warmer climate, drinking a glass of whiskey at room temperature simply isn’t as enjoyable. It tends to taste a little harsher and the flavour of the alcohol is more apparent, overriding some of the more subtle flavours.
While some people turn to ice to chill their whiskey, it does have some downsides. The most obvious one is that you do not have control over how diluted your drink becomes. As the ice melts the ratio between whiskey and water continues to change, going past that “sweet spot” where the whisky tastes fantastic and eventually becoming whiskey-flavoured water.
Fortunately, it is possible to chill your whiskey and avoid the dilution problem by using whiskey stones.
What are whiskey stones?
Whiskey stones are pieces of stone or metal that can be used to chill your whiskey. They are placed in the freezer to chill, then added to your drink in the same way you would add ice.
The main benefit of using whiskey stones is that they will not increase the dilution of your drink as they do not melt. This allows you to enjoy your whiskey in its purest form or in the “sweet spot” where the balance between the mixer and the whiskey is perfect.
Most whiskey stones are cubed or spherical and are made from materials like soapstone or stainless steel. Some stainless steel whiskey stones will also contain a gel which freezes, helping the stone maintain its cool temperature for longer.
Whiskey stones are a fairly new invention, first appearing on the market in the mid 2000’s. Initially, they were only available as carved soapstone, a metamorphic rock that is very dense and non-porous. Soapstone is a soft stone, so it could be easily shaped into squares or spheres without sharp edges.
The designs of whiskey stones continued to evolve over time. There are now very large whiskey stones, metal whisky stones, and whiskey stones with unusual shapes.
How to use whiskey stones
Using whiskey stones is simple. Place them in the freezer at least 4 hours before use. When you are ready to have a glass of scotch, place your whiskey stones into the glass and pour your drink. Wait for a couple of minutes for the temperature to go down before drinking. If you have a thermometer nearby, you can check if your drink is within that 15 to 18 degrees celsius zone before drinking.
Do whiskey stones work?
Yes, they work. Unfortunately, they don’t always work as effectively as ice cubes do. When an ice cube melts, the cold water moves through your drink, chilling it very effectively. This keeps your drink cooler for a longer period. That being said, whiskey stones can bring the temperature down long enough for most people to finish their drink at the right temperature.