Whiskey is a drink not only enjoyed by many, but also enjoyed in many ways. Some like it neat, others prefer a drop of water, while others prefer to add a mixer. Then there are those that like their whiskey on the rocks, slightly chilled. This traditionally has always been a few cubes of ice, which will obviously chill the drink, but also over time dilute the whiskey.
Those that like their whiskey chilled but not diluted used to have a problem, until whiskey stones were born. They will chill your drink without diluting it, a perfect solution. But are whiskey stones worth it?
Are Whiskey Stones Worth It?
The trouble with ice cubes is that there is no control over how diluted your whiskey or other spirits become. The ratio of water to whiskey will change as your sip your drink and as the ice melts. This will take your whiskey past your very own sweet spot. The answer to the question then, is yes, whiskey stones are worth it, if you understand how they work.
What Are Whiskey Stones?
Although they are most commonly referred to as whiskey stones, they are also known as whiskey rocks or chill rocks. They are stones shaped like a standard ice cubes and the size of a standard ice cube.
The idea is to pop them into a freezer for a few hours until they are cold and then add them to your whiskey to give it the perfect chill. This will chill your whiskey without diluting it in any way, and if you like a splash of water, you control how much you add without ice changing the dilution ratio.
These little magic stones can be used in any liquor to chill it without diluting it, or any other drink you like.
What Are Whiskey Stones Made From?
There are two types of whiskey stones, the first ones were made from soapstone and then stainless steel was introduced which brought with it an array of different sizes and shapes.
This is a metamorphic rock that is relatively soft which means it can be easily shaped into delightful little cubes without sharp edges. Whiskey stones made from soapstone have slightly rounded corners to stop them scratching your favorite glass.
Soapstone is known for absorbing and holding cold temperatures making it ideal as an ice cube replacement. It is also a non-porous stone that will not taint your drink with any odor or taste.
They are not meant to be as dynamic as ice cubes, by this I mean they will not chill your drink as quickly as ice, and they will not chill your drink as much as ice. They will normally give your drink a chill between 8 to 15 degrees, depending on their size and the quantity. This is ideal for whiskey.
Guess what these are made of, you got it, stainless steel.
Working in the same way as soapstone, stainless steel whiskey stones will obviously chill your drink. Most people find these more effective than soapstone versions of whiskey stones. They seem to get the drink just a few degrees cooler and keep it cooler for longer.
There are different types of steel stones, some being filled with a gel that freezes, which is probably why they keep the drink cooler for longer. You can get cubes, balls or more recently there seems to be all kinds of shapes being produced, including skulls, ovals and even custom styles like dice with imprints.
The sizes differ too, with your standard ice cube right up to spheres over 2 inches in size. The larger type will keep your drink cooler for longer.
There have been comments by some that say they can taint your drink, but I don’t think so.
How Do Whiskey Stones Compare To Ice?
Ice is the best way to cool your drink and keep it cooler for longer. The trouble with ice is that it melts, this does help a little in the cooling process because as it melts it is blending cold water into the drink.
The obvious downfall to ice is that it will dilute your drink, which does not always matter too much, but there are some cases where it does matter. Ice molds have come on a long way and it is possible to mold large ice spheres, which will take longer to melt. There are plenty of other shapes you can mold too.
Whiskey stones, whether they are soapstone or stainless steel will not compare to ice in respect of how quickly they cool the drink or how long they keep it cool. The upside they have to ice though is that they do not melt, so do not dilute your drink.
Some might say another upside to whiskey stones is that they look great, especially with all the different designs now available.
I guess it comes down to personal choice, some people like whiskey stones and have embraced them. Others just don’t get on with them and will not sway from ice. Then there are those that don’t want their whiskey cooled at all.
I like my whiskey this way, but I did get a set of whiskey stones as a present and have tried them out. They do work, but you do need several of them to keep your drink cool for more than ten minutes. Luckily there is 9 stones in my set, so I used 4 in my drink which kept it cool enough for about 25 minutes.
Having said that, I did notice the drink did not get as cool as it would have done with the equivalent ice cubes. Mine are the soapstone kind, and stainless steel do seem to be better at getting the drink cooler for longer.
The bottom line is that ice is probably best, for most drinks. Whiskey stones do the job they were designed for, which is to cool your whiskey down without it being to cold and without diluting it. For that purpose alone, they are worth it, plus they look good too.