If you broach the subject of perfect whiskey-drinking temperature to a whiskey connoisseur, many will say room temperature is the best for enjoying whiskey. But what does that mean exactly? In reality, most connoisseurs believe that whiskey should be enjoyed between 59 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 to 18 degrees Celcius...
If you broach the subject of perfect whiskey-drinking temperature to a whiskey connoisseur, many will say room temperature is the best for enjoying whiskey. But what does that mean exactly? In reality, most connoisseurs believe that whiskey should be enjoyed between 59 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 to 18 degrees Celcius. That's pretty chilly for room temperature, and in more suitable room temperatures, that's a bit warm for you to enjoy your whiskey at its peak.
The obvious solution is to add ice to your whiskey. Unfortunately, ice cubes can dilute your drink more than you would prefer. For a moment, you would have the perfect balance of temperature and dilution before becoming whiskey-flavored water. The alternative to getting your whiskey at a great temperature while not diluting it is by using whiskey stones.
What Are Whiskey Stones?
Whiskey stones are a relatively new invention introduced in the later 2000s. These are small stones that you store in the freezer and add to your whiskey drink to cool it while not diluting it. Whiskey stones allow you to appreciate the full flavor profile of your favorite whiskey neat, yet chilling it down to a perfect temperature. Whiskey stones quickly gained popularity and are widely used today.
Soapstone is the most commonly used natural material to make whiskey stones as it absorbs the cold very well. A non-porous natural stone, soapstone will not hold any odors or flavors that could seep into your whiskey. Another benefit of soapstone is that it's a relatively soft stone, so it won't scratch or break your glass easily. Also, when crafting whiskey stones, they are cut with rounded corners to resist causing damage.
Most whiskey stones are cut from soapstone, but granite and stainless steel are also used to make whiskey stones and these alternatives are gaining popularity. Whiskey stones come in many different sizes and styles, so they can fit different glass types and appeal to different tastes. You can use a few smaller stones or one large stone, whatever you would prefer. Perhaps you want to make a statement and opt for whiskey stones shaped like skulls or bullets. There are many different types and styles to fit your needs.
As far as efficacy, stainless steel stones probably work the best as they have a gel inside that freezes like an ice pack. The stainless steel will stay colder longer as the gel takes a while to thaw. Unfortunately, stainless steel whiskey stones can sometimes leech a metallic taste into your whiskey, making them suboptimal.
How Do Whiskey Stones Work?
Placing the frozen whiskey stones into a glass of whiskey will begin to absorb the heat from the liquid, allowing you to fully enjoy your whiskey at the perfect temperature with no dilution. The trade-off is that the whiskey stones don't keep your drink as cold as using ice. The stones will retain the absorbed heat and will only keep the whiskey cold for about half an hour before becoming room temperature again.
Ice cubes work in a very similar fashion by absorbing the heat from the whiskey. Ice cubes can cool for longer times because the melting process releases the heat, keeping the whiskey cooler, as opposed to the whiskey stones that retain the heat that will eventually seep back into the whiskey.
While they work better for cooling, ice cubes dilute the flavor of the whiskey. While some people prefer diluting their whiskey, it is difficult to control the dilution this way. Of course, the best solution to that issue is to enjoy your whiskey quickly. If the drawback of the limited cooling time isn't an issue for you, whiskey stones are worth every penny.
How To Use Whiskey Stones
Put the whiskey stones in the freezer for a minimum of four hours before you need to use them. It takes four hours for them to freeze and allow you to achieve the full effect of the whiskey stones. When you wish to enjoy a nice glass of whiskey, simply add your desired number of whiskey stones to your drink. Then add the whiskey over the top of the stones and give it a couple of minutes for the whiskey stones to cool your drink.
After a couple of minutes, enjoy your nicely chilled whiskey. For care, all you need to do is wash the whiskey stones off, dry them, and put them back in the freezer. Most stones will come with a bag, so put them back in the bag for storage prior to putting them in the freezer.
Cost of Whiskey Stones
Whiskey stones vary widely in cost depending on the quality and material you choose. A ballpark figure for a bag of nine smaller soapstone stones would be about $25. The stainless steel and granite whiskey stones are more expensive than the soapstone whiskey stones. Some whiskey purists may disparage the use of whiskey stones. Whiskey stones remain an excellent investment if you want to chill your whiskey without worrying about diluting the exquisite flavors.
Care of Whiskey Stones
Whiskey stones don't require much care to keep them working at peak efficiency. By hand-washing your stones with warm water and dish soap, you prevent any buildup while also killing any bacteria. In the unlikely event that your stones have absorbed an unsavory flavor, there are a couple of different ways to remove the tastes or odors. One way is to soak the stones in a mixture of equal parts vodka and water, and the other would be to bake them in an oven to kill those flavors.
If you like chilled whiskey but are not fond of the dilution caused by using ice cubes, whiskey stones are a great way to go. They chill your whiskey to a perfect temperature without changing the flavor. You can also add personal flair to your whiskey by using whiskey stones shaped as dice, grenades, or the Loch Ness monster. Keep in mind that the cooling effect will not last as long as using ice without the melting action, so enjoy your glass of whiskey a bit more quickly.