The simplest form of drinking an alcoholic drink is drinking it neat. The second most basic way is to drink it over ice. When you order a drink “on the rocks,” the temperature, taste, and consistency will change. Most times for the better, but sometimes, it doesn’t work out too nicely.
Whiskey can be drunk in various ways, and one of the most popular options is “on the rocks”. So, what exactly is whiskey on the rocks?
Whiskey on the rocks is slang for drinking whiskey poured over ice. Benefits include an enhancement of the flavors and aromas, and the melted water can enhance the taste of your drink. The downside is that your drink can dilute quickly and end up with whiskey-flavored water.
We will look at what is meant by the term “whiskey on the rocks”, the benefits and negative aspects of drinking your whiskey in this style, and alternatives to standard ice cubes.
What Is Whiskey on the Rocks?
In its simplest form, whiskey on the rocks is about 2 ounces (60ml) of whiskey poured straight from the bottle onto a few ice cubes in a lowball glass.
The most apparent reason for drinking whiskey like this is that your drink will be cooled.
Why Would You Drink Whiskey on the Rocks?
Whiskey is an exceptionally versatile drink that can be consumed neat, with a mixer, in a cocktail, or then on the rocks. We’ll unpack whiskey on the rocks and explain why you should consider trying it.
Benefits of Drinking Whiskey on the Rocks
There are several reasons why you should consider this way of drinking whiskey. It is also relatively easy to make your ice cubes at home.
So, without further ado, let’s investigate them.
- Flavor and aroma: this way of drinking whiskey allows you to experience all the unique flavors and aromas it offers. Because there are no other ingredients, such as in a cocktail; or mixers, to interfere with the taste, you can genuinely taste the product and appreciate its quality.
- Water enhances the taste: as the ice melts, it will leach water into your dram. It is still a debate among connoisseurs whether you should or shouldn’t add water to whiskey. I lean towards adding a bit of water to my whiskey because it “opens up” the flavors. Recently, I found out this is backed by science as well! There is a unique molecule, guaiacol, which moves to the top of the glass and intensifies the whiskey’s taste and aromas.
- Removes the alcohol’s burning sensation: The dilution from the melting ice can make your drink less intense. A less intense alcohol burn means you can taste the other unique flavors in your whiskey because your taste buds aren’t overwhelmed by the alcohol.
- Hydration: as the ice melts in your glass, you counter the alcohol’s dehydrating properties. It is still advisable to drink enough water when you consume alcohol and to have some water before bedtime to ensure you don’t wake up with a hangover the following day.
The Downside of Whiskey on the Rocks
Unfortunately, ice melts and turns into water at room temperature—it’s a naturally occurring phenomenon.
The ice in your glass will continue to melt, adding additional water to your drink and changing the alcohol-to-water ratio. This drives you to finish your whiskey more quickly before it becomes whiskey-flavored water.
This is a regrettable predicament if you drink high-quality or premium whiskey.
Whiskey on the rocks can also get overly chilly, preventing you from experiencing and appreciating the deeper intricacies of your whiskey.
Alternatives to Ice Cubes for a Whiskey on the Rocks
You can use some alternatives instead of “standard” ice cubes in your whiskey.
Each has its benefit, as you’ll see below:
- Whiskey stones: these are a fantastic alternative to ice cubes. They are odorless and tasteless and chill your whiskey without diluting it. They are cut from soapstone, which is softer than granite, and won’t scratch your glasses. Whiskey Stones retain their temperature for much longer than ice—your drink will constantly be at the correct temperature.
- Ice balls: an ice ball is a round piece of ice, around two inches in diameter. Because it is a solid block of ice, it takes much longer to melt and won’t water your whiskey quickly, either. They are easy to make at home with an ice ball mold.
- Chilled spring water: an alternative to adding ice to your whiskey is to either drink it neat or add a small amount of spring water to your whiskey. You can also opt for chilled spring water to achieve the same effect as ice.
In simple terms, a whiskey on the rocks is about 2 ounces poured over ice in a lowball glass. It is a simple yet effective way of chilling your whiskey while adding some water to open up the whiskey’s flavors and aromas.
While purists may balk at the idea, we say drink your whiskey however you prefer and enjoy it!