I’m not a purist but I don’t put ice in my single malt scotch. I rarely put it in any other type of whiskey I drink.
Irish whiskey is so light it never needs it. I like feeling like a lumberjack when I drink bourbon and lumberjacks don’t use ice.
But, I get that some folks like it. I don’t begrudge them, I think you should enjoy life however you like. Drink whisky however you see fit. Just drink it. 🙂
(also, I use ice in cocktails, so there is a good reason to have ice cube trays!)
So, when I was asked to share my thoughts on ice cubes at home, I had to think about what I cared about… and this is that post.
There are two things that matter when it comes to ice and whisky. The size of the cube and the shape of the cube (yes yes, I realize how silly that sounds… a cube is a cube is a cube).
When it comes to trays, or molds, I look for these things:
- Silicone – A great philosopher once said that silicone parts are made for toys and I think ice cube molds and trays fit the bill. Silicone means it’s really easy to get the ice cube out because the mold is easy to bend. Plastic molds? Too rigid, especially when you have a frozen block of ice, and you’re likely to break the ice (or the mold) as you try to get it out.
- BPA-free – Who wants BPA? I’m not a hardcore organic this and organic that, but scientists tell us that in large doses BPA can act like estrogen. Despite my overwhelming manliness (I am drinking Scotch after all), I’m drinking whisky in order to avoid estrogen. 🙂
- Shape – A ball is better than a cube because it has less surface area, so it melts slower, which means less water and more cool.
Which ones are the best?
Tovolo Ice Molds are one of the highest rated sphere ice molds on Amazon.com and they’re cheap, under nine bucks. They make two 2.5″ ice balls and the mold itself is 3.5″ x 6″ and stack. They’re the #1 best seller in the Ice Cube Molds & Trays category, so that has to count for something. I don’t own them nor have I ever used them.
If you want enormous cubes, Tovolo has HUGE 2″ ice cube trays. Again, thousands of reviews, and it’s cheap.
Lastly, if you want to cool it down a little without watering it down, cubes of soapstone (a.k.a. whiskey stones) are a decent alternative. They won’t get them as cold as ice, but they won’t water down your elixir either.
I rarely use ice in drinks. Scotch, never. Bourbon, once in a while. On a hot day, however, I will sometimes pour myself a helping and stick it in the freezer for ten or fifteen minutes. Comes out chilled, but not diluted. I grant that it mutes the flavor a bit, but you also get a drink that evolves and opens as it warms.
I’m no purist, either. Enjoy it as you like. I would recommend to anyone, though, that they at least sample their whisky neat before altering it with ice, water, or anything else. It may seem silly or pretentious if you’re not used to doing it, but you really need to get your nose in there, then let a sip roll around your tongue before swallowing and enjoying the finish. A good Scotch has complexities you’ll never experience if you just automatically pour it over ice.
never in my life have i poured a scotch or whisky over ice. I prefer neat and allow it to slowly warm as my hand holds the glass. I prefer a brandy snifter to a straight walled glass. However, for my friends and colleagues who prefer an iced version I have found that they prefer the round over the cubic shape of their ice. So I sought to survey them. 9 out of 10 prefer the round ice for mostly two reasons. 1. they find that the reduced surface area in contact with the whisky reduces dilution. 2. the round ice in a glass allows them to “swirl” more nicely once the bulk of the whisky has been consumed.
So it is an appeal to the senses that I serve round ice to those that prefer a whisky or any other straight spirit on a “rock”.
I have meant to test this with a half sphere, again reducing the volume of ice used to reduce the surface are in contact with the whisky but allowing for an aesthetic quality of the sphere.