Seamless ice-spheres for superior whiskey-rocks

Using a sphere of ice (as opposed to a cube) in your whiskey-rocks is nice because the round ice melts more slowly than the square stuff (better surface-area/volume ratio). Now a Japanese company has introduced a mold for making a perfect, seamless ice-sphere:
Taisin has introduced a mold that seamlessly creates a perfect sphere, no chipping and shaving required. Simple place a chunk of ice into the metal press and, as it melts, the device will close around the ice forming a ball, which is then released by the flick of a switch.

The Ice Mold, available in 55, 65, 70, and 80mm mold sizes, can make 30-40 ice balls an hour.

Spheres of ice are preferred by serious on the rocks drinkers because the reduced surface size means that the ice melts at a slower pace, keeping your drink

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  1. Ice-Spheres for serious on the rocks drinkers? Can you say “oxymoron”? I knew you could.

    ‘Serious’ whiskey drinkers drink theirs neat, no ice – maybe a little water, especially if there’s a war on and tipple is rationed.

    If your whiskey of choice needs ice to be drinkable, then it probably needs sugar too among other things, (shades of Mr. Bean trying to pass off vinegar as wine) and is good only for cleaning windows.

  2. Wow, people who drink it on the rocks are high
    maintenance. All I need is a clean glass.

  3. Agreed with these folks. Adding a little water releases the esters and brings out the flavor. Scotch is meant to be drunk room-temp, not chilled.

  4. clean? glass?… what’s wrong with the bottle.

    wouldn’t leaving an ice cube in that contraption for a few minutes raise the temp so much that any increase in melting time due to the shape would be lost?

    how much whisky are you drinking if you need an 80mm sphere of ice to put in it? (that’s over 3 inches BTW)

  5. Bottle?

    What’s wrong with sittin’ under the dang STILL??

    Besides, this was ma DADDY’S jug!


  6. Sure there’s no ice in scotch, but it’s perfectly acceptable to throw some chunks in a bourbon. And quite nice too.

  7. I put my Glen Ord in a dirty shotglass labelled ‘Kernel Panic’ which is expressly reserved for stressful programming situations at work.

    I’ll put those ice balls in my Jagermeister tho.

  8. Yet another gadget which will give the mixologist the appearance of intelligence…which is important since it is within the marvelous venue of the engaging bar scene that the mind works its great wonder.

  9. I remember seeing a bartender in Japan spending a long time chipping blocks of ice into spheres. It seemed pretty labor intensive so I guess he would have liked this gadget. Does this desire for spherical ice only exist in Japan? Do they do this in high end bars in the states?

  10. Drinking scotch on the rocks (as I have come to do) does two things:

    1) As the right-minded water-adders say, it brings out the flavor. The subtleties of scotch (or other whiskeys) just plain don’t come out neat. People who drink it neat think they are 1337, but they’re missing a lot of the intricacies of the flavor. Ice melting adds the water that scientists have found to drastically increase tastiness.

    2) Allows you to enjoy the same drink in a different way every sip, especially with these spherical ice cubes. The first taste is almost neat; by the end, there’s just a whisper of scotch left. The change over time is what I really like about it.

    So there!

  11. I’m with #1. No ice please, just the tiniest bit of water.

    And bourbon? No! Scotch, a nice single malt plz!

    But the ice spheres are way cool. I’m sure they’d be dandy in a G & T.

  12. Very pretty little spheres of ice
    But not for whisky, single or blend
    It’s the oak and age you will offend
    The smoky taste of peat, amend?
    With water, no, it’s not our friend
    Whisky, neat, it is so nice

  13. For scotch, water=good but cold=bad. You pay good money for a fine malt, you’re not going to numb your palate with ice. The evolution of dilution that comes with melting cubes may be interesting, but those sips are way too chilled, and cold prevents a lot of those tasty aromas from volatilizing.

    Ice, however, in a bourbon julep or a rye-and-soda (seltzer) highball is a welcome addition. Indeed, a cold rye whiskey and soda in a nice heavy cut-glass tumbler is a great companion to a fine cigar on the porch, come a sultry summer evening.

  14. i’d love to see a blind taste test using round ice versus square ice and some whiskey experts.

  15. “Ice melting adds the water that scientists have found to drastically increase tastiness.”

    Scientists? Tastiness? Citation needed.

  16. As to single malt, yes, no ice, but water to taste. A lady in the tasting room at Glenmorangie told me that “the only thing you should put in scotch whisky, is more scotch whisky.”

    However, for a blend or an American corn or rye whiskey, this might be fun.

  17. All you whiskey connoisseurs are missing the point: this is supposed to result in slower-melting ice, so the drink doesn’t become watery. But the water is an inescapable product of cooling the whiskey. If the ice melts slower, your drink will be warmer.

    This is just an example of trying to sex-up a product with science, instead of relying on its real draw: it looks neat.

  18. I was in tokyo last year, and quickly became a fan of suntory on the rocks. And, in fact, it was almost always on the rock (1), really, as the bartender would carve out an approximate hemisphere of ice (that’s delivered, no less), and pour the whiskey over it. It is tasty, and the attention and care required makes it all the more special. That the large ice doesn’t dilute your drink, but makes it cool is very important. After that, I feel like bartenders are killing kittens when they take a scoop of cubes put them in the glass, and drown it in liquor. No wonder you haters out there think on the rocks is inferior – you haven’t had the Japanese style! As the ice truck I saw in Tokyo read: “POOR ICE SPOIL YOUR WHISKEY”

  19. I love how people declare that there is only “One True Way” to enjoy whiskey, or anything else.
    Can’t there be a time and place for rocks, water, neat, blended, single, mixed and straight from the goddamned bottle?

    I mean, I love me a nice filet mignon, but sometimes I just want Kraft dinner.

  20. Thank you EthylCannes. I consider myself a pretty devout Scotch drinker and I love it in all manner of ways. I am annoyed by some idiot trying to spout to me that there is only “one way” to properly enjoy it.
    Do I like it neat? Yes.
    Do I like it with a dash of water? Yes.
    Do I like it with ice? Yes.

    It all depends on my mood and the scotch. There is nothing wrong to enjoying a drink the way you want to.

  21. EthylCannes, I’m going to break the rule too, and say you’re right on.

    Sometimes you gotta sip at that little 1oz of scotch hiding in the bottom of a rocks glass, other times you’re polishing off a liter of Dewars after a long hard night. (Hopefully with the help of some friends on that liter, though.)

  22. @24: I read a thing a long time ago about a guy who went to the distillery at Glenlivet and had a long, fruitful discussion about the history and science of Scotch with the people there. The ice and water “controversy” was covered in detail.

    The distillery manager drank his Scotch with lemonade.

  23. I used to just keep my whiskey and tumblers in the freezer, and then drink it neat. Definitely hard to do shots this way – really forces you to sip it…

  24. With Bourbon some people believe that a little water “opens it up” of those people some choose to do it with ice. Personally, I take it straight with a Ginger back to cleanse the palate. But I’m open to siting down at a good Whiskey bar and taking the “Pepsi Challenge” one day.

  25. @25 Ethyl,
    I know. I am sorry for breaking the rules!

    @27 Fnarf,
    My father last year went on a scotch tasting tour in Scotland. At the Glenfiddich distillery he was served a scotch with ice.

  26. I’m a whiskey fan, but prefer a nice Kentucky bourbon over Scotch. And I’m generally a shooter.

    But I would certainly fancy these with a little Tanqueray and a twist. Mmmm… gin.

    And they look pretty damn cool, too.

  27. Alright, alright! Forget distilled alcoholic beverages. Ice spheres are good for colas, tea, lemonade (any ade), and Water! It’s about the sphere! ;-)

  28. >wouldn’t leaving an ice cube in that contraption for a few minutes raise the temp so much that any increase in melting time due to the shape would be lost?

    The ice cubes are only in the shaper for about two minutes. The amount of heat gained by the cube would be negligible.

  29. SCIENCEPUNK has it right:

    This is just an example of trying to sex-up a product with science, instead of relying on its real draw: it looks neat.

    It just looks cool.

    If you wanted more surface area with an ice cube, you could just get a bigger ice cube.

    I stick with my statement that it is completely stupid, but it does look cool.

  30. wouldn’t leaving an ice cube in that contraption for a few minutes raise the temp so much that any increase in melting time due to the shape would be lost?

    Not to mention that the cube’s metal and will readily accept the ice’s coldness. The little bit of melting water coating it will negate the temperature increase because the melting water is almost the temperature of the ice… there’s a way to explain this eloquently but I’m not finding it.

  31. Hm. The little ice mold looks like a fun toy to have about, but it isn’t worth the asking price of $1300 USD. From what I can see, it’s just a basic brass mold turned on a metal lathe. How is a small, novel ice mold worth $1300 to anybody?

    I could see paying maybe $50, just because there’s a lot of heavy brass involved, but the lathe work isn’t impressive enough to warrant the price. Make one out of cheap aluminum and you could probably drive the cost down even lower. In fact, I bet you could make a serviceable version of this out of terra cotta or molding plastic, and it could be done with pocket change. Beyond that, I’m almost certain I’ve seen mass-produced spherical ice trays for sale somewhere. It’s surely out there already.

    But then, this product isn’t being marketed at practical people. It’s being aimed at the kind of tedious dullards who honestly, in their heart of hearts, believe that $1300 ice trays make them superior.

  32. I usually just drink my whiskey straight from the bottle. Standing at the counter where I bought it. Right before I get thrown out.

  33. In the sixties, when it was very hot, my dad would order a Chiva Regal mist, which was pretty much a scotch slurpy. I used to sneak sips of it. I guess he would be arrested in this day and age.

    Chivas isn’t what it was. It’s always been a blend, but it was a nice light sweet blend. Not bad now, but it used to be better. I’m guessing there was Talisker (sp?) in it, in the good old days.

    If you want something round in your drink just for the looks, how about tapioca pearls. Oh yeah, scotch boba.

  34. Pipenta-
    Chivas isn’t what it used to be? Man, I like it now. The idea of better chivas makes me drool. I don’t know crack about whiskey or scotch or anything, but I know what I like! (Which is what I get tastes of from unnamed family members.)

  35. I bought 2 silicon rubber ice sphere molds at MUJI for about 7EUR (which now is like 50 bucks ?)

    They work great, ok ,, they are not seamless … but they do their job and still look fancy enough in gin & tonics :)

  36. Isn’t it also worth mentioning that spheres are the most efficient shape to use when trying to fill a container? If you fill the glass with spherical ice there’ll be less room for the booze so they won’t have to pour as much to fill up the same sized glass.

  37. I actually created my account so I could join this fray…

    1) Room temperature in Scotland is what? 70F at best.

    2) It is 90F + humidity in Ohio in August. I’m putting mine on ice so it doesn’t explode. Scotch is ROCKET FUEL in anything but cool weather.

    3) If it’s not from Isaly, it’s crap.

    4) I just paid $80 for this 18 year old rocket fuel that was lovingly handcrafted on an island off the coast of some backwater. I WANT A ROUND ICECUBE TO PUT IN IT. Why not? What’s that thing cost anyhoo?

    5) Ach, I’ll drink Johnny Walker Black label any day even without the round icecube. Dunna fret hen.

  38. I actually created my account so I could join this fray…

    Anyone who creates an account just to weigh in on liquor is destined to do well here.

  39. #43, FIXEDD;

    Spheres of one size are not the most efficient way to fill a container- they fill about 75% maximum.

    Cubes could be better- appropriately sized cubes in a cubic container would (obviously) fill 100% of the space.

    If you were to add an equal number of spheres with a radius of 0.15* times that of the original spheres, you’d get much better packing. If you iterate this to infinity, you would get 100% packing.

    *For face-centred cubic packing, which is the most efficient way of packing spheres.

  40. These guys don’t know what they are doing. Obviously this rig should be made of an enormous block of pyrolytic graphite. At least then you’d know what your 1,300 bucks was paying for.

    It should also have a pocketed spiral turned into the side into which the bartender pours a jigger of your selected drink, which he then sets alight to provide the heat for shaping the ice.

  41. I once knew an old couple who swore by microwaving their scotch, and having it delivered in a covered container (as the alcohol would evaporate away otherwise). Takes all kinds, I guess.

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