Having to cool down your whisky is not something folks in cooler climes are that familiar with, so it is always amusing to see the disdain whisky snobs show when you mention adding ice or the like to cool down your dram. But in a country like South Africa, where summer temps can head north of 30 degrees Celcius, you either cool down your whisky, or opt for a chilled cocktail or ice cold beer.
That brings us around the the subject of this post. I’ve seen several versions of “whisky stones” and “whiskey disks” over the years. Cubes or discs of rock (usually soapstone) you add to your drink that tout the benefit of cooling but not diluting your dram – as adding ice would – but I have steered clear of buying a set. Mainly because a) I have visions of chipping a tooth or Glencairn glass on one of them and b) the one time I tried them, I found they imparted a mineral taste to my whisky. Not something I’m after, no thanks!
Original Balls of Steel
So when the folks at Balls of Steel offered to send me a set to review, I already had my reservations, but agreed to give them a try. After being stuck with our postal service for months, they finally arrived.
Balls of Steel, unlike cubes of soapstone, are actually… well, balls made of steel! And yes, you can go to town with that phrase and all the associated imagery. Especially when the packaging contains a sack for you to put your balls in! You have no idea the amount of restraint I’m showing in writing this article, but try I must.
Unlike your basic whisky stones, these little dudes have some technology in them. What the folks over at Balls of Steel call “Arctic Core™ phase change technology”. As seen from the pictures on their website, there is some mysterious blue orb locked inside the stainless steel balls which is where all the magic – ok, science – occurs. They’ve also got some graphs showing some impressive results compared to other drink chillers out there.
On a personal note, the steel balls took me back to my childhood, where we used to play marbles with solid steel ball bearings we called “goens”. The “Clack!” of one hitting another – signifying you had just won your opponent’s goen in one of the multitude of games we played – was an extremely satisfying sound.
Well, do they actually work you ask?
I must say, they do. A lot lighter in weight than whisky stones, the Balls of Steel did an admirable job of dissipating the heat from my dram. My process was far from scientific: I merely poured a double measure of the closest whisky at hand, dropped the balls in waited a couple of minutes before taking my first sip. Nice and refreshing. My dram was still cooler than room temperature a good 15 minutes later which is about as long as an everyday dram usually lasts me on a slow day. And best of all… My whisky tasted like whisky! No dilution and no mineral or metallic taste.
It was quite satisfying to swirl the balls around in the glass between sips of whisky. What can I say? I’m a guy and guys like playing with their balls 😉 (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)
Would I buy some Balls of Steel at $25 a set?
Pricing seems to be on a par with other whisky coolers/chillers out there. It isn’t that cheap in my mind, but the blow is softened by the fact that 15% of your purchase is donated to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center whose sole purpose is to eradicate cancer. The Original Balls of Steel portion goes into a fund specially allocated to fight Testicular Cancer – a great tie-in to the product. Being rather attached to my own testes, I think this is a great initiative and a very clever way for a business to give back to the community.
A unique – and fun – take on chilling your whisky, with an added feel-good factor of knowing you’re donating to a good cause when you pour a dram and add the Balls of Steel makes it easy to give this product the thumbs-up.