Are Whisky Stones Worth It?

Source: visualpanicWhisky stones are little cubes of soapstone that you can “freeze” and then put in your whisky to chill it a little bit. Whisky stones are perfectly safe, unless you’re clumsy and drop the rocks in too hard.

They’re growing in popularity as a fun little accessory to get your whisky drinking friend because they’re cheap. Teroforma sells a set of 9 stones for under twenty bucks.

But are they worth it? Eh, I’m indifferent.

I’ve had a bag of whisky rocks in my freezer for at least five years and I’ve probably used it fewer than five times in my life. In fact, my wife uses more than I do to to chill Riesling!

The reality is that I enjoy my whisky in one of two ways – neat or in a cocktail. When I enjoy it neat, I like it at room temperature. We keep our house a little cooler in the winter and a little warmer in the summer but generally speaking it’s within a comfortable range.

There have been studies that show that temperature affects taste. In the science journal Nature, researchers revealed that “heat activation of TRPM4 underlies thermal sensitivity of sweet taste.”

In plain English, that simply means you are more sensitive to sweetness when something is warmer (the researched showed the same was true for umami and bitter). That’s why melted ice cream often tastes too sweet and why warm beer tastes more bitter.

Chilling whisky will impact your ability to perceive certain flavors on your tongue. I don’t want that.

For now, those stones will sit in my freezer until my lovely wife wants another glass of not-quite-cold-enough Riesling.

I’ve been getting some questions about different whisky stone brands – they’re all the same. It’s soapstone and there’s really no differentiation between one brand and another, the only difference is the packaging so pick whatever you think looks nice.

Do you use whisky stones? What’s your take on them?

About Jim

Jim is the founder of Scotch Addict and one of the many fans of whisky in all its forms. Connect with me on Google+.
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16 Responses to Are Whisky Stones Worth It?

  1. Ari Cohen says:

    I too have had them for years as I got them as a gift from a friend who thought I would love to have some real rocks in my drink. And, like you I too have used them very few times. I like my scotch either room temp or with ice (the real peaty drinks that as the ice melts the drink changes its complexity).

    But, they are there for any of my purist friends who might like a cool class but no added water.

  2. Wayne Ortner says:

    Great question! I bought some in spite of my preference for liking my scotch at room temperature. I thought it might be good for those guests who ask for ice cubes in their Balvenie (oh, the horror!). The ones I bought are shaped as cubes and are about ¾ inch in size. I ended up trying them in another liquor and I’m sorry to say, they lived up to my worst expectations, … they warmed up rather quickly and while they supplied the drink with a small initial chill, but they warmed up fairly quickly. If that’s the result you want, they are fine, but they won’t make a drink “cold” like ice cubes will. Of course they also don’t dilute the drink.

  3. Wayne Ortner says:

    , … and I’m sorry for the Department of Redundancy Department typos!

  4. Frank Zuback says:

    I use the stainless steel “stones” and they work just fine.

  5. Phil says:

    I did not know it is called soap stone, but I noticed when I try them my drink always tastes like I forgot to rinse the dish soap out of the glass. Does anyone else notice a difference in taste when using them (other than the difference in temp changing it)

    • Jim says:

      It’s called soapstone but it doesn’t impart anything into the beverage (other than temperature)… maybe you didn’t rinse the dish soap out of the glass enough!

  6. Georges Sfeila says:

    As a whiskey lover I prefer sipping my favourite drink neat and don’t bother myself for such fringe accessories

  7. Bill says:

    I purchased them in an attempt to get the chill without the added water. I found they warmed up rather quickly and did not provide the chill I was looking for.

  8. Carl Trakofler says:

    I have 2 sets of stones and rarely use them. usually can not find them in the freezer.
    I did however come upon some large ice cube trays. We use distilled water (purest) to make these cubes to chill our scotch and also use then in wine. These cubes are about the size of 3 normal cubes.

  9. Rich says:

    The only reason you would use “stones or ice” is you do not how drink scotch or wiskey. If it was ment to be served cold it would be refrigerated already.

  10. Joe W says:

    I have a bag in the freezer. My son-in-law gave them to me so I keep them to humor him. (He thinks he likes bourbon but he’d never had a good one until
    I gave him some Blanton.) I never use the stones, as I can’t tell they do anything at all.

  11. Lyle says:

    I’ very never owned or used any Whisky stones. This blog has raised my curiosity and I might need to try them for myself, good or bad.

  12. Gary says:

    we have a set here which was bought around Christmas. Haven’t tried them yet. After reading the comments, I might give them a try. Personally I like my scotch either straight up or with a bit of ice.

  13. Jason Debly says:

    I am not a fan of whisky stones. They impart a chalky taste. Try with a glass of water and you can tell.

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