Whiskey Disks. It’s probably wise not to try to say that three times fast, especially if you’ve been drinking whiskey. Actually Whiskey Disks are a new product designed to give spirits fans the best possible enjoyment of their sipping.
When I first heard about Whiskey Disks, I immediately reached out the manufacturers to see if I could try some out for myself. They quickly obliged, which is fortunate since I usually enjoy at least one glass of bourbon every night after dinner to take the edge off a hard day of writing about food and booze. I normally enjoy my brown liquors on the rocks with a splash of water, but this can be problematic.
Why drink whiskey on the rocks? And why the splash? Most scotches and whiskeys benefit from being served slightly chilled, but not to the same degree as vodka or gin, which many people store in their freezers. Straight up is certainly an option, and it certainly avoids the possibility of melting ice diluting your expensive glass of single malt. Alcohol melts ice quickly, so it’s a given that mixing them will eventually lower the proof of the contents of your glass. But if you’re going to drink whiskey at room temperature, you might as well serve it in a shot glass and just knock it back. Around 50 degrees Fahrenheit is about right if you’re looking to maximize your sipping pleasure.
Many people think the reason you add a splash of water is to dilute the drink and ease the burn of the alcohol, but distillers already add water to their barrel-strength spirits to achieve the proof level they consider to be most desirable, usually in the 80-100 proof range. Despite the fact that I aced AP Chemistry in high school, I trust their titration skills more than mine.
Warning: SCIENCE CONTENT! — Alcohol molecules have a tendency to clump together due to hydrogen bonds that form between charged hydrogen and oxygen atoms. These clumps can actually contain the esters that represent the aromas and flavors of whiskey or scotch. Adding just a splash of water can serve to break these bonds and release the wonderful flavor esters. The result is you can better enjoy the smell and taste of your highball. I actually keep an eyedropper and a small bottle full of branch water next to my whiskey shelf. (Yes, I have a whiskey shelf. Don’t judge!)
So the best of both worlds is to find a solution that cools your alcohol without ice, allowing you to add only a small splash of H2O to open up the flavors, thus limiting dilution. That’s where Whiskey Disks come in.
Whiskey Disks are pieces of polished soapstone from quarries in Quebec that are shaped by hand in the foothills of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. You may have seen other soapstone cubes that you can chill in your freezer and use like ice cubes, but Whiskey Disks’ unique squat cylindrical shape has much more thermal mass than traditional cubes. Plus, there’s much less danger of having a rock tumble out of your tumbler and hit you in the nose, or even worse, tempt you to accidentally try to crunch one with your teeth like a regular ice cube. That would really ruin your day.
Whiskey Disks stay where they’re supposed to, right on the bottom of your glass. This provides for prime drink swirling to cool your spirit and make you look cool at the same time. True, you might miss the comforting clink of ice against glass, but the upside is well worth it. Soapstone is soft enough to scratch with your fingernail, and it won’t scratch your glasses. It’s nonporous, so it won’t take on odors in your freezer like your ice maker might, despite that two-year-old box of Arm and Hammer you keep tucked behind the frozen cod fillets.
Plus, they’re just damned cool. (Pun fully intended.) No two stones are alike, thanks to their unique grain patterns, and they look great in the bottom of a glass while they quickly chill your drink. Whiskey Disks are available from a few retail outlets, but primarily in the Northeast. If you’re interested in trying them out, well, you could actually just come over to my den about any night of the week. But if you want to buy a set of four for yourself, they are available for $29.99 from the Hammerstone website.
Whiskey Disks from Hammerstone
Where to Buy: Retailers in the Northeast or at the company website
What I Like: Great looking accessory for your home bar, cools your drink without watering
What Needs Improvement: Doesn’t keep a drink chilled quite as long as ice does, but you could always just drink faster