Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Colonel Gets his Rocks Off: Whisky Stones

Well, I was lucky enough to receive a set of Whisky Stones for Christmas (thanks Mrs Colonel). I thought my Dramcember contribution could be a review of the Whisky Stones for the blog. From memory, Whisky Stones first came to my attention about a year ago when The Secretary sent out a club wide dispatch advertising them from Uncrate. I was very interested from that point on and made this known to Mrs Colonel (repeatedly). She did not appear to take this request seriously until seeing the stones at the last DTWC whisky night; which was held at the Barons place and where he gave some out as a prize (thanks Baron).

For those interested (and who can convince their better halves of the need to acquire some) Whisky Stones can be purchased (for Australian residents) from Peters of Kensington for $24 (plus $7 postage) and will arrive within 48 hours. The Whisky Stones themselves are made by Teroforma, an American Company which produces homeware products. They are manufactured in Virginia and are made from soapstone. According to the product description, Soapstone is non-porous, and as a consequence won’t absorb any whisky, or more importantly, add any flavour to the dram. They hold their temperature and cool the whisky in the glass negating the need for ice.

At first I wasn’t really sure what to write. I looked online and found a lot of positive reviews. They seem very popular. In fact, nobody really had a bad word to say. The consensus seems to be that there are two aspects of the stones that people like. Firstly, they are entranced by the stylishness of the stones and the uniqueness of using them for a drink. I think this is a ‘look at me’ effect. Secondly, they admire the idea of chilled whisky, without the dilution which comes from using ice, but in most reviews this seems to come a distant second to the stylishness; even from serious reviewers. It goes without saying that if you want to water down the dram you can, secure in the knowledge that it will remain consistent throughout.

I first tried them on Christmas evening with a nice Laphroaig 10yo. I followed the recommended usage of three stones per dram but found that the whisky wasn’t as cold as I usually like it (I normally add ice so I like it cold). I have found that adding four stones is better and that has been my practice ever since. I find that four stones are about right. However, that does mean I can only have two drams, since there is only nine stones in a pack (perhaps I’ll get some more - luckily for me my birthday is coming up and I’ve dropped some hints to Mrs Colonel).

Aesthetically they are fantastic. They are stylish and a great talking point. I like using them (look at me!). In the glass they go quite dark when wet and lose the dry absorbent look they have out of the packet (when dry, they remind me of talcum powder). I have had numerous tasting with them now and I am yet to taste an adverse flavour from them. If you like a whisky served neat, then these are the product for you. They allow for a cool dram without the dilution you get when you add ice.

All this really became apparent to me last weekend when Mrs and Mrs El Captain came over for lunch (excuse to drink whisky at midday). He and I finished off our birthday bottle of Ardbeg 25yo - Lord of the Isles (review to follow). The first dram was taken with Whisky Stones, the second with ice. I much preferred the first dram which was undiluted and excellent throughout. The second, which was still great, I found less satisfying due to the dilution over time. I hadn’t really noticed this dilution before as the negative it was to me yesterday. For the third and fourth dram, I only drank it neat rather than with ice and would have used the stones if available.

I suspect that this is the major lesson to be learnt from the stones – when drinking high end whisky that you don’t want to dilute; the stones are worth their weight in gold. I would recommend any serious whisky drinker to give them a go.

The Colonel-in-Chief