The Dance of Ice, Stone and Steel

It kind of sounds like a Game of Thrones episode doesn’t it?

But what I am referring to when I say ice, stone and steel is the method in which you chill your favorite glass of bourbon…by using either ice, stone or steel!

Now if you enjoy your brown water “neat” then this article may not be of particular interest to you. However, I truly applaud your purist palate. For me, my bourbon is best served with ice or “on the rocks” as it’s commonly referred. Usually one large cube, never crushed, to really open up the flavor profiles. As the ice melts, it mildly dilutes and softens the burn of the alcohol which in turn enables your taste buds to experience the bourbon’s true flavors. Those wonderful notes of caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, honey or chocolate (and so many more). Be careful not to drop the temperature too much, however. I recommend keeping the temperature above 40 degrees, if at all possible. Too much ice will prevent the subtle refinements of your bourbon from coming out. You will lose flavor. So I suggest one maybe two ice cubes depending on the size. I particularly use the large round cubes much like you’ll find in restaurants, but honestly there are silicone molds for almost any fancy. See below.

Yes, that is Han Solo in carbon freeze! Very poetic if you ask me 😄.

I am actually very thirsty now.

Getting back to the matter at hand. I’ve used all three methods to chill my bourbon. And I have to admit that using stone (soapstone cubes) was the most ineffective and my least favorite. After getting past the initial, mildly halting, moment of seeing actual stones in my glass, I found they were no comparison to ice. They lacked staying power when it came to temperature and obviously didn’t provide the desired dilution. Personally, I think there more of a “cool” gimmick. But that’s just my personal opinion.

Steel, on the other hand, retained its temperature much longer than stone. And contrary to some belief, there was no “metallic” taste residue at all. My steel of choice just so happens to be in the shape of rifle bullets. There is nothing that makes a statement, political, patriotic or otherwise, more than silver, steel bullets chilling your American made bourbon.


So you see, when it comes to chilling your bourbon, you have options. I suggest you try all three. For me, an ice cube or two works perfectly. But like anything else in life, it will simply boil down to your own personal preference. Cheers!

-The Bourboneer

Bourbon enjoyed while writing this article: Blanton’s Single Barrel KSBW. 46.5% ABV (93 proof), NAS. Blanton’s Distilling Company, Frankfurt, KY.

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