There’s been a few less than nice words said against whisky stones in some corners of the internet of late, so I thought I’d come to the defence of those poor cubes of rock; and discuss why I believe many of you are completely wrong about them.
For a bit of background, I live in Canberra, Australia – a place where summers often get bloody hot. And by bloody hot I mean that most years we spend some time with the weather in the high 40’s centigrade, and have on very rare occasions tried to crack 50°C.
As I’m sure most readers of a whisky blog are aware, the majority of whiskies are designed to be drunk at room temperature – a fairly obvious statement to most of you, I’m sure. What many may have never considered is that ‘room temperature’ is a little different in different locations. Around these parts, a couple of weeks straight of 40°C is called summer; a week straight of 45°C is called annoying. At these temperatures, even with the air conditioning running its guts out, the ambient room temperature is likely to be in the mid-high 20’s – if you have a poorly designed house, or an air-con that is past its prime, the ambient room temperature could be in the 30’s. This is when whisky stones are at their prime. If you happen to be wanting to drink you whisky outside, then the ambient temperature is going to be well above what most whiskies are designed for.
Where most people seem to go wrong with whisky stones is that they’re expecting ice with no water – instant chill with no melt. If that is what you’re after with your whisky stones then you are going to be in for a world of disappointment. If you’re expecting whisky stones to do anything quickly, you’re barking up the wrong tree – just go use some ice and drink your drink before it melts.
Many whiskies from Ireland, America, India, Japan, and Australia work quite well with the instant chill, and slow melt, that chucking some ice cubes in a DOF creates. Many scotches on the other hand don’t really handle ice too well – they’re just not designed to be drunk that way; and it is these whiskies where whisky stones are just simply brilliant – they provide a slow chill that does not bruise the whisky, and they usually only drop the temperature down to levels similar to what ‘room temperature’ was envisioned as when the whisky was made (or at least heading in that general direction).
So while you lot sneer at the very thought of whisky stones, I’m going to drop a couple in my whisky and let it slowly adjust to a temperature at which it is more comfortable being itself.