You may remember from a previous post that I had ordered an ice-ball mould.  Well, the waiting is over.  It finally arrived.

Made in China of course

The logic behind the ice-ball is that in theory it melts slower than an equivalent sized ice-block, because a sphere with the same volume as a block will have a lesser surface area than that block.  Hence it cools a drink without diluting it as excessively.

The Macallan, makers of great single malt, have recognized this logic and embraced the ice-ball.  Check out this press release from last year:

March 15th 2010

Raising the Bar – The Macallan Introduces the Ice Ball Serve

The ice or water debate has long remained a fiercely contested subject amongst whisky drinkers and The Macallan has thrown its hat into the ring by creating an innovative serving method expressly for those who like their whisky with ice.

Believing the perfect serve to come down to personal preference, The Macallan has pioneered the Ice Ball Serve.  It is the first real move by any whisky brand in the UK to present whisky in an innovative, contemporary fashion and open the doors to a growing adult population that regards ice as an integral part of the spirit-drinking experience.

The Ice Ball Serve is based on the Japanese tradition of serving hand-carved ice with ultra-premium spirits.  The ice ball press instantly creates a flawlessly formed sphere of ice that adds a touch of theatre and sophistication.

The Macallan’s Marketing Assistant, Pat Lee, explains the science part: “The Ice Ball Press was inspired by Japanese cocktail culture where artisans hand-carve ice balls from massive slabs to create an uninterrupted surface that cools spirits quickly and evenly.  The ice ball melts slowly to preserve the integrity of the spirit.  We have updated this process, by developing a copper press that instantly trims a block of ice into a flawless ice ball.  This, combined with our masterful single malt Scotch whisky, is The Macallan Perfect Serve.

“The Macallan’s liquid excellence is continuously defined by its unprecedented elegance and versatility. The ice ball balances these qualities. As global cocktail culture has evolved, ice has become central to the modern-day spirits experience.  With an eye on this trend, we created The Macallan Perfect Serve, to modernise the way single malt can be enjoyed and appeal to a wider range of consumers.”

In essence; The Macallan ice ball serve takes this traditional practice to the ultimate level, with a single perfect sphere of ice, a unique beautiful serve with the benefits of maximum chill with minimum dilution.

Enjoy the perfect ice-ball serve at the following bars and restaurants:



The Ritz Hotel


The Connaught Bar, The Connaught Hotel, London

The Dorchester Hotel, London


50 St. James

Milk & Honey

It might have been a better idea to focus this initiative on warmer climes, the blink-and-it’s-gone British summer doesn’t count, but credit to them nonetheless.  Many brand owners’ marketing efforts are so focused on advertising, point of sale, packaging, and whatnot, that product aside there’s sometimes little attention paid to the consumer’s drinking experience.

So, having waited for a while, I was quite excited to ball some ice, and I hastily pressed my mould into service.  I had no Japanese whisky at hand so I called on an Abelour 10yo, knowing it would not let me down.  With the ice-ball in the glass and ready I tossed in whisky and water, let rip with the prescribed 13 and half stirs, and hey presto a mizuwari was born.

The mystical ice-ball

Vigorous but precision stirring required

I’m not an ice man (more a Maverick…sorry couldn’t resist) and yesterday evening wasn’t particularly warm, so this was never going to be my preferred format for drinking, or should I say appreciating, a whisky.  But it is a pleasant enough drink…hey it’s water and ice with a bit of fanfare and a fancy name.

I can’t comment on the efficacy of the ice-ball.  The theory’s appealing, but the difference in degree of dilution is probably quite subtle in practice.  I’ll have to repeat the experiment with two drinks at the same time, one balled one blocked.  I’ll say one thing though, whilst the mould is a great cheap alternative, I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on a Macallan-type ice-ball press.  Check it out here…with some sales patter thrown in.


6 responses to “Ice-balls

  1. The Macallan too is cool, but this bartender has some mad skills! Enjoy!

    While iced whisky is nice on occasion, I still prefer to drink it neat.

    • That’s just a whole different league. Thanks for sharing.

      I like a splash of water with my whisky. Keep an eye on the blog early next week to see a radical style of drinking whisky neat.

  2. Your ice mould fucking rocks

  3. Will do Patrick!

  4. At Angel’s Share, a bar in Manhattan, they recommend briskly rotating the tumbler while resting on the counter. It takes longer to cool off, but reduces dilution.

    • Very interesting – thanks for the comment. Incidentally, Angel’s Share seems to be a popular name in the whisky sphere. I recently visited a bar of the same name in Hong Kong, and now there’s an Angel’s Share movie about to be released.

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