Food Tool Friday: Keep Drinks Cool or Warm with Whisky Stones

Keep Drinks Cool or Warm with Whisky Stones

Connoisseurs of hard liquor always face a dilemma: how do they chill their spirits without diluting the flavors? After all, if you've shelled out big bucks for a bottle of single malt, you really don't want to mess it up with an ice cube that has freezer burn. (As for refrigerating whisky, most people recommend against doing that: it can cause the whisky to "haze," or look clouded.)

The science of chilling liquor and cocktails is a big topic, so much so that people have devoted countless hours on how to create the best-tasting and purest ice possible.

Skip Ice, Get Some Stones

Thankfully, there is an easier way: buy some whisky stones that you keep in the freezer. These beautiful cubes are made of soapstone, which is a metamorphic rock with a high talc content. It ranks relatively low on the Mohs mineral scale of hardness because it contains so much talc. This means it won't scratch your glass or chip your teeth.

These are Terraforma brand whisky stones chilling a drink. Image by Peripathetic/Flickr

The other advantage of using soapstone instead of ice is that it has exceptional thermal properties: in other words, it retains heat or cold for relatively long periods of time. When I used to enjoy a glass of Scotch, I was a sipper, and sometimes liked to nurse my glass for a good half-hour or longer. The hardcore like to say Scotch should always be drunk at room temperature, and while they have a point, I liked to lower the temperature to heighten the more subtle flavors in the liquor and to take some of the bite out of its harsh edge.

If you want a sleek, futuristic option, then check out these stainless steel cubes. They work the same way as whisky stones, only you look like you're in some super-cool sci-fi movie as you sip your beverage.

These make your drink look even more bad-ass. Image by Savage Stainless Steel Ice Cubes/Amazon

Side note: Scotch and "whisky" without an e are the same thing, while bourbon and "whiskey" with an e is another thing entirely.

These Babies Have Multiple Uses

The other beauty of whisky stones is that they're actually multipurpose. After I stopped drinking Scotch (it was just more alcohol than I could handle) I used mine to rapidly chill wine, coffee, and smoothies.

Terraforma whisky stones chilling an "iced" tea without diluting it. Image by Steph/Granite Gurus

Faisal uses his whisky stones to keep drinks warm. You can pop them in the microwave or use some hot water to get them to the right temperature, then use them in your hot beverage of choice.

Other Options

However, there are those folks out there who actually want their whisky—even the good stuff—to be diluted just a smidge. For them, I say use a combination of one whisky stone and one actual ice cube. You can also buy these ice ball molds, which promise to chill your drink for hours on end.

You can even make flavored ice so they'll subtly add more undertones to your drink. Image by Arctic Chill Ice Ball Maker/Amazon

The ice within them will melt slowly over time and be released little by little into your drink, providing just enough dilution without making it taste watery. Some people say there's a silicon aftertaste with these guys, but others swear by them.

What's your favorite way to chill your drink?

Cover image via Peripathetic/Flickr

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