Whisky and Ice Ball taken from The Tusk website
I was prompted to write a piece on the role of ice and Whisky after viewing the Channel 4 documentary ‘A Frozen Christmas’; at one point in the documentary we followed the seller of glacier ice attempting to sell his ice to a couple elite hotels in London. During a tasting of the ‘ice’ the hotel buyer provided a deluxe Whisky which was enjoyed with a giant ice ball in the glass courtesy of the ‘ice seller’. Now, I’m all for the ‘tasting experience’ but I fail to see how the tasting experience can be termed an experience when your not actually experiencing anything aside from tongue numbness. In conjunction with this thought I’m also acutely aware of drinking responsibility. Particularly in Scotland, drinking responsibly is of huge importance, the health risks associated with alcohol consumption are recognised in through the Scottish Government’s controversial planned blanket minimum pricing. With that in mind, savouring and enjoying a spirit is more desirable than just the consumption of its alcohol which is hastened by the nullifying effect of the ice which numbs your mouth so you can’t taste what you are consuming?
During a Business tutorial while at University we were debating the reasons why alcohol, particularly lager, should be served cold and why particular breweries were emphasising the need for their alcohol to be served cold, ‘the colder the better’, and the fact is if its served cold you can’t taste it and if you can taste it you can’t recognise how awful it tastes.
The most persuasive argument I heard to not add ice to Whisky was provided by my friend Sean Murphy of The Scotsman, “Imagine you are out in the countryside, you are walking between the hedgerows, you can hear birds chirp and feel the heat of the sun on your face. Wildlife is alive in nature with movements in the trees and bushes. The scent of freshly cut grass and the aromas of nature fill your nose and mind making you feel in touch with nature as if your part of it; nature is imparting itself through its scents into you. Now imagine that same walk on a cold frosty day, the snow has covered the grass, the animals are hibernating and there is little movement in the trees or shrubs. You can’t smell anything but receive the slight burning chill of frost in your nostrils, you only feel the cracking of snow under your feet with each step and the smothering heat from your scarf and jacket cushions your ability to feel the outside world”. Adding ice to Whisky is the equivalent of placing a winter blanket over nature; you limit the dram’s ability to express its full palate of flavours in your mouth.