A gift is a gift, says the Whisky Virgin, and not to be lightly cast aside. Whisky stones may not be entirely fit for their primary purpose, but who knows what manner of alternative uses they might be put to? Some of them more, er, imaginative than others…
I was recently given a rather beautifully wrapped set of whisky stones. They came in a lovely box, stored in a pretty white net, and were made of soapstone and shaped like dice. Upon reading the instructions, I learned that my whisky stones were a non-melting alternative to ice, to be popped overnight into the freezer, and then in my whisky. As well as being cube- and cylinder-shaped, I know now that the whisky ‘stone’ also comes as a steel ball or puck.
My first thought, of course, was one of delight, and my second was to show them to a learned friend of mine, who knows about these things, which was a mistake, because she was very uncomplimentary, advising that the best I could do would be to return my whisky stones to wherever it was they originated, and exchange them for something ‘fucking useful’.
Needless to say, unable to part with something that was not only a gift, but so, as I say, thoughtfully packaged, I didn’t follow my dear friend’s advice. Still, I have to report: she’s dead right.
Despite having spent the best part of 24 hours preparing for the moment in my freezer, my stones patently failed to keep my whisky cool. Left in my glass, they reminded me less of ice than they did the remains of a half-flushed toilet.
However, I am a stubborn virgin. I have not returned my gift. A thing, my darlings, is very rarely reduced to its original function. Instead, it holds within itself much potential, a wonderful package of secret, curious and yet-to-be-explored functions.
Having thought for not very long on what these might be with respect to my and other ice alternatives, I am delighted to share with you the fruit of my labours – I hope my learned friend is reading this:
1) On a purely sensual level, if like me you especially enjoy the touch of things, then there’s nothing like having a different array of small hard cold things to press against one’s skin. Where exactly, I leave with you. We’re all different.
2) If short of a stone or two for your evening’s game of Mancala (otherwise and variously known as Omweso, Awale or Bao), then look no further than your fridge freezer. Those days of scrabbling about in the garden are over.
3) I am a deep fan of the meditative values of frustration, and few things beat the art of stone balancing for sending the apparently stable sane ragingly mad. Guaranteed to add no years to the end of your life.
4) The whisky ball saves us waiting until Christmas for a stocking gift of a pair of Chinese meditation balls. On a similar note, and as a cheap and effective alternative to acupuncture, may I suggest putting the stones in a stocking and sharply rapping various meridian points? To be run concurrently with stone balancing.
5) Nothing like a game of Fivestones or Jacks to keep one’s hand-eye co-ordination in tip-top condition. Also a fine way of testing one’s ability to leave the house unaided.
6) For anyone who has recently lost someone who absolutely loved whisky; rather than place a coin in his or her mouth, why not reuse one of your whisky stones? I believe St Peter – or whomsoever it is that guards the gate between this and the next world – can be persuaded to accept one in lieu of money.
7) Finally, it would be most remiss of me were I not to share what for some of us is their most obvious use, which would be as a valid alternative to a costly set of Ben Wa Balls. As well, I imagine, as improving one’s pompoir techniques, the benefits of exercising kegel muscles while simply sitting on a rocking chair make it a no-brainer. NB: KY Jelly optional – and balls, not stones, please.
I apologise for the sheer brevity of the above. I had plans to elaborate, and understand only too well that I have missed the opportunity to show my friend what she’s missing out on, but some things, as I’m sure you’ll agree, are best left to the imagination.
Suffice it to say: I’m loving my whisky stones.