Do you have the stones for your whiskey?

Bless whiskey – whisky…? tastings. They are the life equivalent of teeth brushing lessons age primary tooth. Whiskey, that is good whiskey, costs a certain amount of money and is therefore expected to be a certain kind of experience for the drinker, more so a connoisseur. You would be surprised how much debate is involved in its drinking. To ice or not to ice? Get your rocks off versus use a whiskey mould. Whatever is a man to do?

As it so happens, like every other simple choice in your life this one is riddled with confounding tentacles. Everyone knows, and if you did not you are about to find out, not all stones are created equal and some are made in China. Infact, yourbestdigs.com went as far as listing the seven best whiskey stones. Here are the big boys.

1. Balls of Steel

2. Kollea Stainless Steel Chilling Cubes

3. Teroforma Whiskey Stones

4. Great White Ice Whiskey Stones

5. Soapstone Whiskey Stones by Spirit Stones

6. Sipping Stone Whiskey Chilling Rocks

7. Maker’s Mark Whisky Disk

Whiskey stones are made out of soapstone, with smoothed out edges so as not to scratch your glass. Chilled for at least four hours before use, they replace ice, chilling your drink by dropping the temperature without diluting it. That being said, whiskey stones can be made out of steel which releases gel slowly for ultimate cool. These stones are the very soul of minimalism; small, clean cut geometric beauties with an unmistakably neutral hue usually grey, increasingly silver, occasionally white. Square or rounded, the most recent innovation in whiskey stones are much bigger and golf-ball sized. Bigger is mistakenly believed to be better. Size can factor in, bumping up against the teeth, getting in the way of a good drink. But, the best thing about whiskey stones, they come in a set. As the whiskey grows warmer and fiery, you can simply to up with another stone. Why else would they be 6, 9 or 12 if it was not meant to be scotch on the rocks? Tasteless, odourless and FDA-approved, they last a lifetime. Hence engraved stones in a bespoke set making the perfect gift. If your woman is a wine lover, keep her away from your stones. Gift her a set of wine pearls instead.

Cleaning is done with warm soap and water. Lay out on a paper towel on a flat surface, preferably some place the sun hits like a windowsill. To kill any flavour simply soak it in a mixture of water and that cheap vodka you swear you would never be caught drinking as an adult, half a glass to quarter, making sure stones are covered. Leave them there for at least three hours. Or when the oven is in use the day before you want to freeze your drink, bake them till they are completely dry. For some reason they do not get intoxicated by whatever is cooking! Whiskey stones are stored in the muslin bag they come with. Redouble any likely absorption of scents and flavours by putting them in a resealable bag or airtight container. Fridges are notorious for pulling food scents and whiskey stones are porous. If your stones cannot purge that everything but the kitchen sink taste, ditch them. And get yourself Balls of Steel instead.

Your confusion at this point is understable because, come on. Those whiskey stones are the coolest thing ever! Not to mention a perfect conversation starter over the holidays. Ice is also so 2016! Hold on. It is not over yet. Perhaps you might instead consider whiskey ice moulds. A blend of ice and stones. Just mid this year, luxury online shopping guide CNNunderscored tested whiskey stones and found them to have a 25 minute chill threshold. After that the stones hit a plateau which interferes with the pleasure of a languorous drinking session. Why? At that point the stones, because they can’t melt, absorb the warmth of the whiskey in effect making it warmer. The solution is a large mould that takes its time cooling whiskey for much longer than the stones. The stones are much more dignified for the man who appreciates a fine single malt. The molds – American English – released skulls thanks to Halloween. A miniscule silicon Titanic ship has been spotted on Alibaba.

A STORY OF ICE AND FIRE

Legend has it whiskey experts drink it neat. Not so fast. Rumour has it they add water in extremely tiny doses via a dropper. And that a little water will hit the surface of your golden drink, sink in to deliciously release hidden molecules for even more flavour. It makes a great case for ice. A solitary cube does the trick, it is said, chilling the drink by melting into it. Unfortunately there are puritans who will have none of this, considering it the gravest of offences against a well-matured flavourful number. This might help you make a case though. Mixologist and director at the Culinary Technology at the French Culinary Institute has published a book just for situations like this. Dave Arnold´s Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail breaks ice down elegantly. “There is no chilling without dilution, and no dilution without chilling. The only reason a cocktail gets diluted is that ice melts and turns into water. Conversely, the only way ice can melt is if it chills your drink.” There is a chemical reaction between ice and whiskey, a unique fire and ice dance. Ice takes in some of that spicy whiskey heat, bringing it to a warmer temperature, in turn cooling the whiskey. Arnold seals it by declaring, ¨Even extremely cold things, like blocks of steel stored in liquid nitrogen, don’t chill as fast as melting ice cubes.”

Except yourbestdigs.com begs to have the last word stating, ¨One of the arguments against whiskey stones is that they don’t chill a glass of whiskey as much as a glass of ice. While true, it is important to remember that a glass of whiskey starts losing its complexity around 45° to 50°, so the fact that whiskey stones don’t chill as much as ice is intentional and by design.¨ The emphasis, theirs.

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