You like drinking whiskey, but you find that the ice melts and waters your whiskey down too quickly. But now you are wondering how you can keep your whiskey at the perfect drinking temperature without sacrificing the precious liquids…
The answer lies in a simple and elegant solution—whiskey stones.
How do you use whiskey stones?
In its most basic form, you put the whiskey stones in the freezer for at least four hours before serving or drinking whiskey. Place a few of the chilled stones in your favorite glass, pour a whiskey, and wait a minute or two until the whiskey has reached the desired temperature, and enjoy.
We can make whiskey stones out of soapstone, granite, or stainless steel. We will look at these different materials and how to use them. Also, there are pros and cons to whiskey stones. which we’ll talk about as well.
What Are Whiskey Stones & How To Use Them
Simply put, they are stainless steel cubes or balls fashioned out of soapstone or granite.
Let’s glance at the science behind chilled drinks. When you drop ice cubes in your favorite whiskey (or whisky if you drink Scotch), it is not cold escaping the ice cubes but the opposite—it’s the heat in your drink that escapes to the cold ice cubes.
This is basically the first law of thermodynamics: the energy (heat) lost by the whiskey is equal to the energy gained by the surroundings (ice cubes)—until an equilibrium is reached (ice has melted) and everything is the same temperature.
Whiskey stones work in the same way by absorbing the heat from your dram. They don’t melt, though, and cooling will stop sooner rather than later.
They solve getting your drink down to room temperature, which is anything between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius (59–65ºF) in Scotland, but they won’t stay at that temperature for an extended period.
Remember the first law of thermodynamics above—it works both ways—from hot to cold, and from cold, back to hot.
Let’s look at some options to give you a better idea of how they actually work.
Soapstone or Granite Stones
Andrew Hellman, a fellow whisky lover like me, invented whiskey stones back in 2007.
His inspiration came from his Swedish grandfather’s house, where pouches with stones would hang outside the house and be used to cool down piping hot liquids such as soups coming off the stovetop.
He saw the connection and set about creating Whisky Stones® to cool a whisk(e)y without diluting it.
When Andrew Hellman first introduced the stones to the market, they were made from non-porous, dense soapstone—a type of metamorphic rock.
Soapstone is easy to carve and heat resistant. Another choice for making whiskey stones is granite. It is also a very hard rock with excellent heat resistance.
How To Use Rock Whiskey Stones
To use whiskey stones made of rock is straightforward—wash the stones with soap and water before using them for the first time.
Then pop them in the freezer for at least four hours, crack open a bottle of your favorite whiskey or bourbon, place one or two of the stones in your glass, and pour yourself a drink.
Let the drink cool down for a minute or two until it reaches your desired temperature, and you are ready to relax with a drink.
Keep in mind these soapstone stones will give you a cool drink and not a cold drink, but whiskey should also never be chilled below 15ºC (59ºF). Granite, which is a harder rock, will keep your drink cooler for longer.
After use, rinse the stones with water and dry them thoroughly before returning them to the freezer.
Some brands to look for:
- Teroforma Whiskystones®, the original whiskey stones. Milled from one of America’s oldest soapstone mills, they are hand-carved—it is hard to beat a classic.
- EM Collection offers a set of 9 granite stones, two glasses, tongs, and coasters. The perfect gift for any whiskey lover.
- Brotec has another option in round granite whiskey stones showing off the granite’s patterns and colors.
This is another option if you are looking for something a bit more modern-looking—stainless steel. Be careful of buying inferior products as they may impart a metallic taste to your drink.
Stainless steel also has the added benefit that it can mold into various shapes and sizes, adding an interesting addition to your tipple while cooling it down.
How To Use Steel Whiskey Stones
Using steel whiskey stones is a simple process that involves a few steps. First, wash the stones with soap and water before using them for the first time. Then, place them in the freezer for at least four hours to chill.
Once the stones are thoroughly chilled, add one or two to your glass of whiskey or other spirits. Let the drink cool down for a minute or two until it reaches your desired temperature. Sip and enjoy your perfectly chilled drink without any dilution.
After use, rinse the steel stones with water and dry them thoroughly before returning them to the freezer.
- BonBon stainless steel whiskey ‘stones’ are actually 2.1-inch balls made of 304 stainless steel. Backed by a lifetime warranty.
- Stainless steel bullets are a surefire way to start a conversation as they are unique, look good, and make the perfect gift for a whiskey-loving (or gun-collecting) friend.
Things To Consider When Using Whiskey Stones
As with all things, there are some pros and cons, dos and don’ts, with whiskey stones. Let’s look at some of these:
- The stones may cause chips and cracks in your favorite glasses. They can also scratch your glasses. Be mindful when using whiskey stones—they can slip out of the glass and chip or break the front teeth.
- They require maintenance—you’ll need to wash them after drinking and put them back in the freezer—a slight problem if you are forgetful.
- Adding weight to the glass.
- They will keep your drink cool but not cold, which is important in whiskey.
- Whiskey stones will not water your whiskey down, so you can control the amount of water in your whiskey. Personally, I find this a great pro, as I can control the amount of water in my drink without worrying that it would become whiskey-flavored water.
The three main options for whiskey stones are soapstone, granite, and stainless steel. While there are also the naysayers who think they are a total waste of money.
It is up to you—remember, whiskey should be drunk at room temperature (around 59–65ºF) and not frozen cold. Whiskey stones help to achieve the perfect drinking temperature.
Alternatively, drink your whiskey however you enjoy it most.