Do Whiskey Stones Actually Work?

·2 min read
Photo:  Yulia Gust (Shutterstock)
Photo: Yulia Gust (Shutterstock)

I love a whiskey sour, but to drink a glass of straight whiskey is a skill I have yet to master. Perhaps that’s because I haven’t been using the right tools to create the optimal whiskey sipping experience. Could whiskey stones be the missing piece that takes me from a casual cocktail orderer to a brown-liquor enthusiast?

What are whiskey stones?

I recently learned how a sphere-shaped ice cube can transform any cocktail, because its shape allows for a slower melt. It turns out that whiskey stones have a similar benefit, plus additional perks, depending on your preferences.

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Rolling Stone explains that whiskey stones (also known as whiskey rocks) work in the same way ice cubes would, chilling your beverage, but without melting and diluting the spirit. The stones are often made of soapstone, stainless steel, or even marble, and they come in various shapes and sizes, from sphere to cube to cylindrical.

Treat whiskey stones just like ice cubes: keep them in the freezer for at least a few hours before adding them to a drink. Vinepair also notes that some whiskey rocks will either neutrally chill the drink or impart a specific flavor, depending on their design.

Do whiskey stones work?

Yes and no. Depending on what the whiskey rock is made of, and depending on your personal preferences regarding whiskey sipping, a stone might not live up to expectations.

For example, as Rolling Stone notes, soapstone will cool a drink down, but it won’t keep the drink as chilled as ice cubes would. “This is intentional, since whiskey will start to lose the nuances of its flavor around 45 degrees Fahrenheit,” they explain. On the other hand, stainless-steel whiskey rocks will keep a beverage colder than the stone varieties (though still not as cold as ice cubes), and will keep it at that slightly lower temperature for a longer period of time.

No matter what, whiskey stones simply will not chill a drink as much as an actual ice cube will. Beyond that, some whiskey drinkers (or purists) might not want to invite the possibility that a stone will impart a certain taste and alter the flavor of the whiskey itself.

As a newbie, though, I think a little dilution from some genuine ice cubes is my friend, not my enemy. Whiskey is plenty strong for me even when it’s been cut with a little cold water. Fortunately, it’s a serving decision that everyone can make for themselves. The choice is fully in your hands, or in your freezer.