For the real whiskey enthusiast, spirits are served neat with just a splash of water to bring out the flavor. However, for the majority, it’s “on the rocks” to help soften the blow. Whiskey stones are a way of chilling the alcohol without watering it down, but is this the right way to drink it?
What are Whiskey Stones?
Whiskey stones are nothing more than fake blocks of ice. Small containers made from plastic – or other safe material - are filled with water and then kept inside of a freezer. This allows drinkers to keep a drink chilled without the melting ice affecting the strength and flavor of the drink. A problem that “on the rocks” whiskey drinkers have unless they are downing the cocktail quick.
The “Neat” Drink
There is a reason why whiskey enthusiasts drink it warm with just a splash of water. Water helps it bloom. In other words, a small amount of water added to whiskey will bring out the aromas and flavors that are being masked by the alcohol. Without it, the drinker may not appreciate the brand’s unique taste qualities.
The temperature of the whiskey doesn’t make a difference with the flavor, although it can take some of the edge off of a strong dram. And some people just like to be served a cold drink over a room temperature one. For them, especially if they are taking their time with the glass, whiskey stones with a splash of water does provide a sensible solution.
The Problem With Whiskey Stones
Some whiskey enthusiasts suggest that whiskey stones are typically given as gifts by people who don’t truly appreciate the qualities of spirits. There are a few problems with whiskey stones that make many discard them after only one use:
- Whiskey stones may chip the glass – or even teeth. Depending on the material they are made from, whiskey stones can roll around the glass while you sip, rocking against the glass and causing small fractures in it. If they unexpectedly make it past the lips, a whiskey drinker could end up with a chip on the front teeth.
- Keeping whiskey stones chilled is not always convenient. These need to be washed and then put back into the freezer after each use. One could make a similar argument for an ice cube tray, but with regular ice cubes, the drinker does not need to worry about any sanitary issues.
- The drink is not being watered down the way it should be with whiskey stones. Where they are most useful is with mixed whiskey drinks, such as a Jack and Coke. Drinkers want these served cold, but added water from ice definitely alters the flavor – and not in a good way.
Few true whiskey connoisseurs can say that their drinking habits have been enhanced by the introduction of whiskey stones. While the concept of a cold drink without watering down seems like a good one, the general consensus is that this novelty is better suited for lemonade.