Whiskey stones are becoming increasingly popular for cooling whiskey without diluting it with water or ice. Unlike traditional chilling methods, they allow the full flavor and aroma of the drink to be enjoyed.
This guide explains how to use whiskey stones and answers all your commonly asked questions. We’ll leave no stone unturned (excuse the pun).
What are whiskey stones?
Whiskey stones are small, odorless cubes or balls used to cool down drinks without watering them down or diminishing their aromas. They can be made from non-porous soapstone, granite, or stainless steel and are typically chilled in the freezer before use. If the ambient room temperature is high, stones are excellent for lowering the temperature of your spirits.
How do I use whiskey stones?
- To use whiskey stones, place them in the freezer for at least four hours. We recommend overnight for best results.
- When pouring a snifter, remove the stones from the freezer and drop three or four into an old-fashioned glass before pouring the whiskey, bourbon, or other spirits of choice.
- Allow the glass to sit for about two minutes before taking your first sip. This gives the drink time to reach an optimal temperature.
- If the liquid isn’t cold enough after a few minutes, try adding another stone or two until you’re satisfied.
Tips for using whiskey stones
- Try to keep a few things in mind when using whiskey stones. These quick pointers will help elevate your drinking experience.
- Rinse whiskey stones after each use and let them air dry completely before putting them back in the freezer. This will help prevent any bacteria from forming on them.
- Adding excess stones could overchill drinks and affect your taste buds, preventing you from appreciating all the drink’s subtleties.
- Stones can chip the glass so take care when adding them.
- Use tongs to place the icy stones into a glass the easy way.
- Stones won’t release any water content into your beverage, so consider adding a few drops of water.
Pros and cons of whiskey stones
Whiskey stones have their good and bad points, which you should consider.
- Look impressive: Whether having a quiet dram alone or drinking with friends, whiskey stones always look a little more classy.
- Convenience: Whiskey stones are incredibly convenient because there’s no need for ice. Just place them in the freezer until they’re chilled, and then add them to your glass.
- Doesn’t alter flavor: Unlike ice cubes which change the flavor of whiskey as they melt, frozen stones don’t impact the taste.
- No funky aromas: Ice cubes can absorb other unpleasant smells from the fridge or freezer (onion, anyone?).
- Price: One of the drawbacks of using whiskey stones is they’re expensive compared to ice cubes. The outlay can be high if you want to entertain guests with them.
- Don’t get cold enough: While whiskey stones certainly get cold enough to chill a drink, they won’t chill whiskey like regular ice cubes.
- Limited cooling time: Whiskey stones may only last 25 minutes before losing their ability to cool. Unlike ice, which is easy to replace, having a stockpile of frozen stones could get costly.
How to make DIY whiskey stones
- Select the correct type of stone for your needs. Soapstone cubes are ideal because they can easily be chiseled into smaller pieces with a hammer and chisel. If you don’t have access to soapstone cubes, consider other options like river rocks or granite tiles. Just check they’re food-safe and don’t contain any lead or other toxins that could leech into your drink.
- Once the materials are ready, wear safety glasses and use a hammer to gently tap each cube until it breaks apart into smaller chunks. Ensure all the edges are smooth, so there’s no risk of cutting yourself when handling them.
- Finally, place the stones into freezer bags (double-bagging is best) and store them in the freezer overnight.
Well worth reading: Why should I use a whiskey decanter? We provide some solid reasons for adding one to your barware.
What are whiskey stones made out of?
The most popular materials used for whiskey stones are granite, soapstone, and stainless steel. Granite offers natural cooling properties, which makes it ideal for keeping drinks cold without watering them down. Soapstone is also good since it’s non-porous, which helps prevent bacteria growth. Stainless steel is another option that won’t provide as much cooling power as granite or soapstone due to its poorer thermal conductivity.
Commonly asked questions
How many whiskey stones should I use?
The number of whiskey stones you should use depends on the size of your glass and the amount of whiskey you want to chill. It is recommended to use 3-4 stones per 8-ounce glass. Add an extra one or two if you have small stones, or use a larger glass.
Do I store whiskey stones in the fridge or freezer?
It is best to store stones in the freezer before use. This step will ensure they are cold enough to chill drinks quickly and efficiently.
Can I reuse whiskey stones?
Whiskey stones are made to be reused for many years. To reuse them, rinse with cold water and air dry thoroughly before storing them in an airtight container.
It is essential to dry the stones before storing them, as any residual moisture can cause them to become moldy or contaminated.
Where can I buy them?
You can find whiskey stones online or look for stores specializing in kitchenware and bar accessories, such as Bed Bath & Beyond. Some liquor stores also stock a range of these stones.
Best alternatives to whiskey stones
The best alternative to whiskey stones is ice cubes. If you’re making cocktails, frozen fruit slices like grapes or wedges of lemon or lime can also work well. They won’t dilute your drink like melting ice cubes will, but some may impart subtle flavors into the beverage, which could affect its overall taste profile.
What should I consider when choosing whiskey stones?
When selecting whiskey stones, material type, size and shape, and design preference should all be considered.
- Material type is important because some materials will provide better chill retention than others; for instance, soapstone and granite tend to hold cold temperatures longer than other materials.
- Size and shape will impact how long your whisk remains cool. Bigger stones will keep chilling for longer than small ones.
- Design preferences are another consideration – do you want a stylish bar accessory, or is performance the biggest concern? You may want to check out etched designs or personalized options.
How do I store whiskey stones?
It’s important to store whiskey stones properly, so they don’t get damaged. If you’re not freezing them, they’re best stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
How do I clean whiskey stones?
To clean stones, all you need is hot water and dish soap. Let them sit for 5 minutes in a sink of water before rinsing off any excess soap residue with cold water and drying them off with a clean towel.
Tip: check the water isn’t too hot as it could damage the stones or cause discoloration on certain types of stones.
When were whiskey stones invented?
Andrew Hellman invented the whiskey stone in 2007. He got the idea from Swedish hanging stones, which were hung outside to freeze in winter, then got added to hot liquids off the stove. Source.
Whiskey stones are a great way to enjoy perfectly chilled drinks without sacrificing flavor or aroma. While they come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, most options do an excellent job of making drinks cold. Now there’s no excuse not to enjoy every sip of your favorite whisky!