The Best Ice for Your Whiskey - The Whiskey Wash

The Best Ice for Your Whiskey

ice in whiskey

image via ernie/Flickr

In the whiskey community, nothing generates quite the range of opinions as ice. For some, it’s anathema – add ice to your whiskey, and you might as well be pouring it down the drain. You’re certainly allowed to feel that way, but most whiskey drinkers (including me!) understand the pleasures of a well-placed cube or two – and nobody would dream of serving many classic whiskey cocktails without a hearty helping of ice.

But there’s more nuance to ice than just cracking a few handfuls out of the tray. If you’re looking to up your ice game, read on.

How much

How much ice you add is up to you. Remember, the more ice that goes into your drink, the more your whiskey will be diluted. Some dilution is good, especially if you’re sipping on a high-proof whiskey that benefits from a little breathing room. But if you pour whiskey, even a high-proof one, over a full rocks glass of ice, you’ll end up with waterlogged whiskey in no time at all.

What kind

There’s good ice and bad ice, at least when it comes to whiskey. Good ice is dense, clear, and smooth, with a high volume-to-surface-area ratio. That will get you cold whiskey without excessive dilution.

Bad ice is small and soft, which will melt more quickly and over-dilute your whiskey. If your home freezer comes with an ice maker that cranks out sub-par ice, invest in a few big cube trays – they’re cheap, work great, and make drinking at home feel like a visit to a fancy cocktail bar.

Also, if you live in a place where the tap water tastes a little funky, use filtered water – any flavors in your ice will transfer directly to your whiskey.

How old

Finally, use fresh ice! Don’t put anything in your whiskey that smells like the inside of a freezer – it’ll make it taste that way, too. If your ice has been sitting around for more than a few weeks, dump it out and make some fresh cubes – it’s worth it.