Wondering what are whisky stones? They are a spherical or cubed alternative to putting ice cubes in a glass of whisky. Because water will ruin the flavor, taste and burn of whisky, it allows for a nice chilly glass of firewater without watering it down. Whisky stones are inexpensive and they make an excellent gift for the avid whisky drinker.
However, the jury is out on whether these actually work or not. While some people gleam with joy over their whisky stones, others are adamant in their feelings and state they don’t get the job done. Regardless, they do manage to cool down a dram to some degree.
These usually comprise materials such as granite, soapstone or some other solid, nonporous rock such as marble. But, there are a host of materials people use to make whisky rocks. You can even fashion some yourself if you’re handy and crafty that way.
Sipping this Article
- What are whisky stones?
- How do you use whisky stones?
- What are the best whisky stones?
- Can you make your own whisky stones?
The question that lead us to write this article was “what in the world are whisky stones?”. And, answering this questions shortly, these are frozen rocks or metal pieces to put into a glass of whisky without destroying its quality.
The explanation is simple: when you add regular ice to whisky, the heat within the spirit escapes toward the ice and causes it to melt. Whisky stones work in similar way as ice, but they absorb the heat rather than transfer it into the drink. This brings the temperature of the whisky down for a short time to enjoy it. While the stones tend to freeze faster than water does, they do warm up a lot faster as well. This means the drink won’t stay cold for very long.
Ever heard the expression “Whisky on the Rocks?” It is related to using whisky stones and you can know all about it on this article: https://www.whiskyflavour.com/blog/whisky-on-the-rocks-controversy/
Besides them being convenient to use, some people have complaints about using whisky stones:
- They take much longer to cool down a glass of whisky than ice;
- They don’t bring the drink’s temperature to ice cold levels;
- They warm up fast and don’t keep the temperature down for an extended period of time.
Because every bottle of whisky will have some variation to it, even if it’s a brand you imbibe regularly, you want to sip the whisky, evaluate its flavor and see if you need to open it up. If you want to improve the flavor, you may want to add a drop of water or a piece of shaved ice.
But, if you like the heat, flavor and aroma coming from the glass as it is and still want to have it a little cold, this is what whisky stones are for. Using these stones is very much the same as how you’d use regular ice cubes.
They go into the freezer for about an hour or two, maybe less depending on the material. Once icy cold, you drop a few into your glass and pour your whisky over them. They’ll bring the temperature of your drink down to about 52°F (about 11°C).
Regarding what are whisky stones, we need to explore some of the materials used to make them. We also can say that the best kinds of whisky stones are the ones that comprise stainless steel. These freeze much faster than granite and they keep your drink cooler for much longer than any other type of stone. However, there are some whisky aficionados that recommend using ones made from marble.
But, what’s great about stainless steel is that there’s a host of options available in the way of shapes and sizes. While there are the traditional square or spherical whisky stones, there are others shaped like bullets, skulls, hockey pucks, golf balls, diamonds and many others.
So, the best whisky stones are going to come down to the preferences of the drinker. Some people want something more ice cold but they don’t want to water down their whisky. In this instance, stainless steel or marble whiskey stones will be ideal.
Yet others only want a slight cool down, because they like the heat whisky offers. Therefore, soapstone or granite will be the best option. These are the most common materials you’ll find in commercially-produced whisky stones.
Now that we answered to the “What are whisky stones” question, know that you can very much make your own. But, you cannot use any old stone you find lying on the ground. You should be able to identify the kind of stones you find. But, if you don’t know what they are, ensure they don’t flake, crumble or break easily.
This is because you don’t want, hard and stony particulate debris floating around in your drink. Not only is it unappetizing and bad for your health (including teeth) but they can also potentially change the chemical composition of your whisky.
Making them yourself opens up a world of options outside the standard soapstone, granite, marble or stainless steel whisky stones. Some people have even used things like aventurine, amethyst, obsidian, fluorite or quartz crystals and fashioned them into whisky stones. While these substances look cool, they don’t hold cold very well.
But, there are some things you can do if you come across some rocks in nature that look good enough to become whisky stones. First, see if it will break in half in your hands. Then throw it hard against something like a boulder.
If it will chip or flake after a test impact against a solid surface, don’t use them, ofcourse. In the case the rock holds up and it doesn’t have many pores (aka little circular openings) on the surface, it’s good for use as a whisky stone.
However, you have to clean, process and polish them up a little bit so they look more as what are whisky stones, in fact. If you have the equipment and know-how, you can do this yourself. Or, you can take it to a gemology or rock shop in your area and they can do it for you.
Whisky stones can make a great accompaniment when enjoying a classic iron dram. They’re useful to enjoy a little chill in the spirit. But, they do have a few shortcomings, one of the biggest being that they don’t work for very long. However, ones fashioned out of stainless steel offer the coldest whisky stone.