The Type Of Ice You Add To Bourbon Matters

Ice can be an essential ingredient when it comes to preparing a beverage. It serves a real purpose. This seemingly ubiquitous and chilly ingredient can be the difference between a cool, refreshing drink that can quench your thirst and a glass of room-temperature liquid that is less than satisfying. Ice is particularly important when you are pouring your go-to adult beverage or mixing up your favorite cocktail. In fact, use the wrong type of frozen water and your alcohol may not taste the same.

If you are a bourbon drinker, you may already know that ice has a superpower that can change the dynamic of your taste buds when that liquid hits your lips. Add some cubes to your glass of Maker's Mark or Jim Beam and the flavor transforms; it becomes more mellow while simultaneously heightening the aroma of the individual elements used to create it. Those vanilla, oak, caramel, and spice flavors can become more transparent and intense depending on the ice. Bourbon requires its own special ice, especially when it isn't going to be mixed with any other ingredients. But why?

Go big or go home

The anatomy of ice is pretty straightforward. It is simply frozen water; however, what separates one ice cube from the next comes down to the size, density, and mold used to create it. The larger the ice cube the slower it melts and conversely the smaller the ice cube or crushed chips, the quicker it will turn back to water. This is important because experts share that the size of your ice cube is going to change the rate of dilution of your drink as well as how quickly it gets cold. Experts say you should be shooting for a finished drink that's about 25% water from melted ice.

How does this affect bourbon? spoke to Beau Williams, the owner of a restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri that specializes in bourbon drinks. Williams explained that while ice and water aren't going to ruin your bourbon experience, this is a whiskey that is meant to be savored. That's why he recommends using a large solid piece of ice in his bourbon rather than ice pellets or chips. The big ball or cube of ice is going to take its time melting and will help to slowly bring out some of those bourbon flavors you know and love.