What to Drink (with) This Week: Whisky Stones

Occasionally, in a loving relationship, there can be moments of pure, miscalculated, poorly-thought-out and not-nearly-as-subtle-as-they-appear moments of selfishness.  These can be small transgressions, like “accidentally” forgetting to buy delicious hot dogs while being sure to stock up on quivering log after shuddering slab of horrifying tofu; or they can be somewhat larger, like purchasing a gift for one’s adored spouse that is totally and transparently not for them, but rather for one’s self.

Around here, we call that the Homer’s Bowling Ball Scenario — which should say something significant, because I can count the number of Simpsons episodes Tina has watched on one hand.  But truly, nothing illustrates the principle of the Gift For Her (Or Him, Let’s Be Fair, It’s Not Always His Fault) That’s Actually For You than this:

Which brings me to Whisky Stones.

Let me be perfectly clear:  In our household, Tina is the Scotch drinker.  She can actually be blindfolded and have a good chance of identifying which Scotch you feed her, and even if she doesn’t guess, she is perfectly willing to keep trying.  She can go on at length about depth, sweetness, peaty-ness, warmth, smoothness and balance in a manner that embodies her passion for the liquor, and which eternally precludes me from ever writing about the topic myself on the site.

Indeed, for all my rums and gins, when it comes down to the whiskys, there’s only one expert, and it ain’t me.  So when I came across Whisky Stones for the first time, I really thought I had something new to bring to the table.

Me:  Hey!  Hey Tina!  There’s this really neat thing you can do with your Scotch!

Tina:  (fiddling with iPhone) Mmmm?

Me:  Yeah!  See, the thing is, they’re stones, right? But what you do is, you put them in your freezer so that they get really cold!  And then, then you put them in your drink and keep it cold!

Tina:  (casually crushing an opponent at Words With Friends)  Uh-huh?

Me:  So!  See!  You can have your drink cold without diluting it, but it’s still — wait for it! — on the rocks!

Tina:  Oh, that’s very nice.  But I don’t like my Scotch on the rocks.

Me:  …but… cold!  And then…

Tina:  You’re very sweet.  Thank you for the offer!

Which, as we all know, is code for, “Please stop bothering me with ways to ruin my favorite drink.”  But I am hardly one to be deterred, and so off I went on an adventure to find these fabled Whisky Stones, to learn more about their amazing powers.  And, incredibly, they actually had some.

Whisky Stones are a product of Teroforma, a housewares firm that designs their own product, and has a distinctly hand-crafted feel in what they offer.  The stones themselves are made from soapstone, a substance that is soft enough to work with easily, but also is noteworthy for its lack of heat conduction.  Sold in little packs of nine cubes, they’re a little strange to behold for the first time — arranged in the box in a small square, accompanied by a little cloth bag and some very specific instructions for their care.  It’s a little hard to imagine so much fanfare for a handful of milled rocks, I do have to admit.

But here’s the thing — following the instructions, storing them in the freezer for the better part of the day and then pulling them out, it starts to make a lot of sense.  I held a Whisky Stone in my palm for a while and felt three very distinct sensations:

  1. It was really cold, and stayed that way
  2. It had a pleasantly solid sensation, as silly as that sounds
  3. I didn’t feel like I’d been fooled into something

In fact, what I came away feeling like I’d bought a visually pleasing, geologically valid and properly drink-chilling set of objects.  More importantly, I knew that this was something I had to give to my wife, whether she wanted them or not.  They are very simply a brilliant idea, not just because they actually work, but because they are so fun and unique.

Imagine the opportunity to serve a guest a drink with a couple of Whisky Stones in it, for example.  Whether they experience polite curiosity or obvious horror (either way: instant comedy), you have a conversation piece, one that has a genuinely wonderful backstory to go with it.  I didn’t actually appreciate all the details that went into it, until I started researching this article and came across this little portrait of the manufacturing process.

That’s right, by using Whisky Stones for yourself and your guests, you are:

  • Keeping American industry working
  • Rewarding simple engineering and creativity (honestly, a cement mixer? God bless you, Glenn Bowman)
  • Purchasing goods manufactured by someone who is clearly a combination of Tony Soprano and Santa Claus
  • Supporting quite artful ad agencies, whose filmmakers were able to convey the three previous points

But more importantly, it’s just a genuinely (and authentically) cool way to put a drink together, whether it’s for yourself or someone else.  That a hunk of soapstone won’t dilute your drink is obvious, and that it will do a better or worse job than an ice cube is arguable — but that in itself adds a bit of fun, in that suddenly how you refrigerate your drinks can become a topic of conversation.  It’s a little story that can go with a glass of whatever’s going, one more neat thing your guests can enjoy while they’re with you.

Whisky Stones run for about twenty-five bucks in Canada (possibly less in the US of A), and are well worth picking up.  Whether they’re a genuine cooling agent or a conversation piece, they’re well worth the time, attention, money and wrath of the spouse to whom you may choose to give them.

Rating:  5 Bowling Balls With Your Name On Them Out of 5

 

  • Erica Prince

    We had the whisky stones conversation, but it led to an argument about how *for some* “on the rocks” isn’t really about cold booze, but rather code for “please slowly water down my drink a little by way of ice,” so the stones would do very little in that capacity.

    • choosybeggarmike

      It’s kind of funny how many buried little experiences there are in a simple glass of scotch, isn’t it?

      That’s why I use ours to chill rum, instead.  Everyone leaves me alone and I get Kraken-lackin’.

  • Capgar

    Also, whiskey isn’t really meant to be served cold. So if the person you’re serving is actually a whiskey or scotch aficionado, and not a “please slowly water down my drink” person, they won’t appreciate you chilling their drink.

    • choosybeggarmike

      You know, that’s an interesting point. It reminds me of the bizarre tension between serving red wine at its optimal temperature (10-16 Celcius) and offering it at room temperature (19 to 22 Celcius).  To one group of people, only the former is appropriate; to a much, much wider group, a chilled red wine would actually be off-putting.  In a hospitality situation, it’s difficult to to decide which way to go — the orthodox approach, and risk people not enjoying it; or the conventional way, knowing in your heart that it’s wrong, but making everyone comfortable.

      If I put on my “It’s Okay To Like Different Things” hat, then I would say that if you’d like a fun, conversation-starting way to chill liquor (or treat minor burns) for those who like it cold, this is a great way to do it.  Besides, I would presume those who want their Scotch or whisk(e)y neat are also the folks who aren’t afraid to be specific about that, when it’s offered.

      • Capgar

        All true! They do look fun, and the whiskey aficionados I know are absolutely not afraid to be precise about what they want!

  • http://hampiesandwiches.blogspot.com/ Eileen

    These are really interesting!  I may have to get some.  The only problem is that you know someone, somewhere will eventually forget that they aren’t actually ice cubes and pour them down a sink with a garbage disposal…

    • choosybeggarmike

      Let me just say, once these are in your possession you immediately become more invested in cleaning up other peoples’ drink glasses.