Whiskey Stones: Worth the Hype?


For a more in-depth look at ice vs. stones, please also see our 2012 feature on the subject.

By Jake Emen

Whiskey stones

Whiskey stones in a Glencairn glass
(Credit: Jake Emen)

I love the idea of whiskey stones, and I wanted to actually love using them. Which is why I was extra disappointed by my experience with them versus my expectations, and wanted to share that with the other whiskey-heads out there.

The premise of whiskey stones, which have been popping up as popular gifts and hot items all over the place, is a simple one – chill your whiskey without diluting it. The concept is fantastic, but there’s a failure of execution.

Don’t get me wrong, when you grab a few whiskey stones from the freezer, they feel ice cold. You’re expecting great things. This could change everything, you happily think to yourself while pouring in your spirit to recommended specifications.

But then… not so much. If you’re using a proper whiskey glass and follow the guidelines of how much spirit you should have versus how many stones, then you’ll notice a slight chill. It certainly takes a bit of the edge off a harsh spirit and lowers the liquid down from room temperature a tad.

However, it’s by no means a substitute for having a few pieces of ice in your glass. The whiskey just never gets that cold, or really, close to that cold. The stones are cold, and the glass may even be cold to the touch. But the liquid you’re drinking isn’t, it hovers just slightly below its starting point fresh out of the bottle.

Granite Ice in Bourbon

Rocks in your whiskey?
(Credit: Richard Thomas)

And if you use a wider glass, or more liquid compared to the number of stones used, then you’ll hardly notice anything at all.

When you pay attention to the fine print of the box, you’ll see a description that provides a disclaimer to your expectations, basically telling you to expect a slight chill. A slight chill is at best what you receive, but that’s not the way the product is marketed, and not what I was expecting.

So the next time I want my whiskey on the rocks, I’ll stick to the fake ones, not the real ones.

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  1. Of course they don’t work. Ice does not chill the liquid itself, it is actually the melting ice within the liquid that is cold.

  2. Why in the world do you want ice-cold whiskey? If that’s what you want, pop a bottle in the freezer. Of course, you’ll be masking everything that makes a whiskey great by doing so. But if that’s what you want, there’s an easy solution.

  3. You’re losing out on the state change from ice to water, which takes a lot of heat and is where most of the cooling comes from. (It takes as much heat to melt ice as it takes to heat the resulting melt to 175F.) By my math, even chilling the granite cubes with dry ice first won’t absorb as much heat as ice would.

  4. I also use the stones. I find they work best when you also keep the glass in the freezer with them.

  5. You can also chill your whiskey without diluting it by simply keeping it in the fridge or freezer, though I have no idea why you’d want to.

  6. I just don’t get it. I know several people that swear by stones, cubes, rocks, whatever. I reviewed Whiskey Disks a while back. The temp barely dropped in the whiskey and definitely didn’t chill it. It must be working for someone… Here’s my review:

  7. take your bottle of whiskey (at room temperature), pour it into a glass, nose it for a while, take a sip, and possibly add a small amount of spring water to open it up before enjoying it as god intended. – chilling it in the fridge, with ice, mixers, these stones or anything else is just Sacrilege, and if you find me doing it shoot me coz I must have lost my marbles

  8. If using cold rocks were an effective way of chilling a drink they would have been in use for thousands of years.

  9. These things are so froo-froo. It’s ridiculous. Whiskey stones, big round ice cubes, ball bearings, etc. It’s all dumb.

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  12. I have a different problem with the rocks. I do like the subtle chilling with some whiskeys but for me, the rocks add a wet granite aroma that I find distracting.

    • Maybe it’s the type of stone your rocks are made from? They are made from different types of stone. I know of granite and soapstone rocks, and there may be other types used.

    • These are granite. And it’s a smell I recognize from spending time in the high country when rain storms have come through. It’s very subtle but I’ve got a pretty sensitive nose. It could just be as simple as that. I may try a different brand and see if that may help things.

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