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What Are Whiskey Stones and How Do You Use Them

Whiskey stones are worth adding to your home bar. These stones, usually stored in the freezer, can be made from a variety of materials as long as it’s not frozen water. The purpose of whiskey stones is to chill bourbon or whiskey without adding ice.

One whiskey glass with stone

Melting ice dilutes the bourbon and changes the alcohol’s flavor profile. But what are whiskey stones, and what are they made of?

Read on to discover what materials are used for them, the benefits of their use, and other frequently asked questions about whiskey stones.

You’ll find that they can improve your sipping experience, especially if you’re finally breaking open that special bottle of spirits you’ve been saving for a special occasion.

What Are Whiskey Stones?

Whiskey stones rose to popularity around 2008. Whiskey stones are small and usually cube-shaped rocks kept in the freezer. Dropping one, two, or more into your whiskey, bourbon, or other adult beverage requiring ice keeps your drink cold.

cooling stones for whiskey and alcohol

Whiskey rocks made from ice inevitably melt, while whiskey rocks made from rock chill without diluting, and that’s why they exist.

Whiskey, bourbon, and scotch drinkers know the importance of sampling each beverage unaltered. That’s the best way to enjoy the complete flavor profile. Adding ice, though, means adding water as that ice melts.

However, whiskey stones allow drinkers to enjoy a chilled beverage without losing any taste that people want when drinking bourbon or whiskey straight. Whiskey stones quickly gained popularity and are often given as gifts to whiskey enthusiasts today.

soapstone - a metamorphic rock commonly used as whiskey stone

Soapstone is a metamorphic rock commonly used as whiskey stone material since it holds cold very well. Its non-porous nature means you won’t have lingering flavors from other liquors the stones have chilled for you in the past.

Granite and stainless steel can also be used to craft the stones. Most whiskey stones use these non-porous materials. Since different adult beverages sometimes require specific glasses, perhaps the traditional cube wouldn’t work as well as another shape.

With this in mind, whiskey stone makers created them in other shapes and sizes, ensuring that the right whiskey stone for you exists out there somewhere.

How Whiskey Stones Work

Using whisky stones is easy. Once you’ve chilled them in the freezer, drop them into a glass of alcohol. The rocks will cool the liquid and lower the temperature of your whiskey to an ideal temperature, minus the dilution pitfalls of ice cubes.

Glasses with liquor and whiskey stones on table

Whiskey stones work very well in your chilled whiskey for about half an hour, and then you will need to return them to the freezer to cool again. Most at-home bartenders have multiple whiskey stones.

That way, friends and loved ones can enjoy each subsequent drink with a fresh, frozen stone. While ice cubes work well to chill whiskey or bourbon, they melt into the liquid, adding water to the whiskey.

And some whiskey drinkers enjoy the slow dilution of their beverage. Some people enjoy the evolution of the flavor of a glass of rye as the beverage-to-water ratio changes. 

But if you’re sipping from a bottle of Scotch that costs more than a mortgage payment, you more than likely want it to taste exactly the way it’s supposed to, and that means “without extra water from melted ice.”

Whiskey stones should remain in the freezer for at least four hours before the rocks are ready to be used in a drink. After adding the stones to your beverage, be sure to wait a few minutes, just as you would with ice cubes. The rocks need a little time to properly chill your whiskey before you enjoy a sip. 

Materials for Whiskey Stones

Whiskey stones can be made of various materials. Each distinct type of whiskey stone offers benefits to the whiskey drinker. 

Granite

Granite stones hold temperatures better than some other materials, like soapstone. Granite will keep your whiskey chilled longer. Granite stones are more rigid and will last longer than soapstone stones.

Granite whiskey stones can be made in a variety of colors like pink or gray, though whisky stones made from this pricey material can get expensive.

Marble

Marble is one of the substances that will help your whiskey become as cold as possible without using ice. The stone holds cold very well, and some whiskey aficionados prefer their stones made from marble or stainless steel exclusively. 

Like granite, marble can be an expensive material.

Soapstone

Soapstone is not only one of the more affordable whiskey stone options, but it also allows for a lessened chilling effect. Granite and marble hold cold much better, but that means they chill the liquid they’re in faster and colder.

Soapstone for cooling whiskey

Soapstone won’t make your bourbon too cold. This fact is crucial for those sippers who want to taste some of the potable’s warmth. It’s a relatively soft stone, too, so there’s less chance of scratching your glass.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel whiskey stones employ a non-toxic chilling gel on the inside of the cubes, enhancing the ability to maintain a cold temperature.

Stainless steel cubes imitating ice to cool whiskey

This means they can hold cold longer than the other options, and some of them freeze faster in the icebox. For these reasons, some sippers feel that stainless steel whisky stones make the best whiskey stones.

We’re not going to lie, either—stainless steel whiskey stones look pretty great, too.

Benefits of Whiskey Stones

Don’t worry about scratching your rocks glass—soapstone whiskey stones especially offer smooth edges and aren’t hard o heavy enough to break your glass. But there are even better pluses to using these drink coolers.

 glass of whiskey with Whiskey stones

No Melting

As we’ve mentioned, diluting your drink is a no-no for many whiskey and Scotch drinkers. Since the stones were never water, they can’t melt and add water to the alcoholic beverage they’re cooling.

Glasses with liquor and no melt whiskey stones on table

Also, and this has less to do with melting than with the way heat transfer works, whiskey stones won’t over-chill your drink.

Once you get a bourbon or rye colder than 45 degrees F, you start to lose some of its character. This is why many people keep vodka in the freezer, for instance. It dulls some of the vodka’s bite.

Eco-Friendly

The reusable nature of whiskey stones makes them ecologically and environmentally sound investments as we as a society try to move away from throwing everything in a landfill.

Two glasses of whiskey with reusable stones

But on top of that, chilling stones decrease water usage since you’re not making ice as often, and having them in your freezer actually contributes to that appliance’s efficiency.

The fuller a freezer is, the more efficient it is. These are small increments, to be sure, but every little bit helps.

Lots of Styles

You can find whiskey stones in just about any color you want, and different shapes exist for different glass styles. And they’re hugely popular as gifts for groomsmen, for example, because they’re open to personalization.

whiskey glass whiskey stones stainless steel ice cubes

Think how cool it is for your whiskey stones to have your initials on them or the Rebel Alliance insignia from “Star Wars“. Maybe you want a rock shaped like a skull. You can have exactly that.

Long-Lasting

Whiskey stones, especially granite or marble ones, are dang near indestructible. Provided you keep your whiskey stones clean, they will likely outlive you and your liver. Even if you don’t clean them, whiskey stones won’t ever fall apart in your drink.

How to Clean Whiskey Stones

Even the most non-porous rocks will retain flavors if they don’t get cleaned after each use. Thankfully, cleaning your whiskey stones is easy.

Clean stainless steel cubes or whiskey stone alternative
  1. Rinse them under cool water by holding them in one hand, running water over them, and rolling them around in your palm.
  2. Add a drop or two of dish soap, then roll them between both hands, lathering up the stones.
  3. Thoroughly rinse them because soapy whiskey stones will add flavors much less pleasing than if you hadn’t washed them at all.
  4. Place them on a paper towel, dish rag, or drying rack for a couple of hours since they need to be completely dry before you freeze them again (otherwise, you’ll get ice melting in your drink, thus defeating the purpose of your whiskey stones).
  5. Freeze them for at least four hours before using them again.

Frequently Asked Questions

With so many options for this ice alternative, many people have additional questions, so here are some of the most common ones.

Can you make DIY whiskey stones?

You can. You’ll need soapstone, available online and at hardscape stores, and basic stone-carving tools. Unless you’re an advanced fabricator with access to non-toxic freezing gel, you’re unlikely to have success DIY-ing stainless stones, and granite may be too hard to work with.

Do you put whiskey stones in the freezer?

You do. While putting your stones in the refrigerator won’t harm them, it also won’t make them cold enough to make a real difference in your drink’s temperature. And a refrigerated stone won’t cool your drink for the same duration as one out of the freezer.

How long can whiskey stones last?

Theoretically, they can last for centuries. Unless you’re concerned with passing them down for generations, though, that’s probably not a concern of yours.

Proper care and use allow whiskey stones to last for decades. They’re rocks, after all, and since your time on the earth spent drinking starts at 21 (or so), even if you live past 100, the same stones could serve you all that time.

How many whiskey stones should you use?

Depending on your tastes, how cold you want your Scotch, and how full you want your glass to look, you can use as few or as many as you want.

Smaller chilling stones will have less surface area and therefore dissipate heat faster, so the size, in this case, matters. Most people use two or three whiskey stones in a drink.

Do whiskey stones affect taste?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Some drinkers swear that stainless steel whiskey stones impart a metallic taste to a beverage, while others find nothing of the kind. Provided your soapstone, marble, or granite whiskey stones are clean; they shouldn’t affect the taste at all.

What material is best for whiskey stones?

It’s difficult to name a “best” material, as different people use the stones in different ways. If you’re looking for a rock that stays as cold as possible for as long as possible, there’s no choice but stainless steel whisky stones. But, as mentioned above, if you don’t want or need the coldest cold ever, soapstone might be your preference. 

Can you put whiskey stones in the dishwasher?

You can, in some cases, but you shouldn’t need to. Soapstone cubes, being made from a relatively soft rock, might incur damage in the dishwasher. Your marble, granite, or stainless steel rocks will emerge unscathed, but it’s easier and faster to wash any whiskey stones by hand.

How do you store whiskey stones?

They’ll more than likely come into your possession in a bag, and this will be more than adequate in which to keep them in the freezer.

You don’t need to store them at room temperature if you’re not going to use them for an extended period, so put them in the freezer and leave them there. Even if you go months without using them, they’ll be fine living in the freezer next to the ice cream.

Final Thoughts

So, what are whiskey stones? They constitute an elegant solution to the problem of drink dilution. While we all love a chilled beverage, a glass of fine Scotch can quickly become compromised by the slow addition of water through melting ice. 

Adding a reusable, virtually indestructible whiskey stone or two can add class and even a touch of personalization to your drinking experience without bringing unwanted water into your drink.

Have you used whiskey stones before? Leave us a comment, and let us know: do you use them? Do you love them? Are you simply rocks-curious? We want to hear from you.

Written by Paul Kushner

I have always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. My restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time I turned 17 I was serving tables, and by 19 I was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, I opened my first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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