A friend forwarded me a review of various type of whiskey-chillers,
comparing `whiskey stones' made of actual stone to fancier `novelty' types
made of steel or other materials--and also to plain old water-ice.
The surpising conclusion? "To get the quickest chill, nothing tops
an ice cube or two in your glass" (though the little steel containers
of liquid also did a pretty good job).
Though...., I guess it actually shouldn't be surprising that chillers employing
phase-change to cool do it more effectively than the ones that just employ
temperature-gradient and heat-capacity--especially when the volumetric
heat capacity of the latter isn't really fantastic anyway; consider:
Not only does water have a crazily high heat-capacity, but the amount
of energy that frozen water absorbs in order to feed the phase-change
from solid to liquid is also crazily high (and, on top of all that,
remember that water just after melting is the same chilly temperature
as ice just before melting; so, first the phase-change absorbs a massive
amount of energy from the whiskey, and then the liquified water absorbs
another massive amount of energy meeting the whiskey somewhere between
0° C and whatever temperature the whiskey was at when it finished melting
the ice). Though, yes: you do end up with some liquid water in your whiskey.
And if ending up with water in your whiskey bothers you, then the obvious
move is the wrap your icecubes in some sort of impermeable barrier,
which is exactly what those `steel with liquid/gel center' do--except,
they probably would have worked a lot more quickly if they'd used, say,
copper or silver cladding rather than steel; in the culinary
and welding worlds, steel is basically known for its lack of
thermal conductivity (hence all of the `stainless-clad, copper-
or aluminum-core' cookware; nobody in the cookware industry has
the guts to try to sell sterling-core cookware, but the welders
can tell you all about how difficult it is to work silver without
just making a huge mess due to it conducting the heat throughout
itself faster than many heat-sources can heat it).
Actually, comparing thermal conductivities,
diamond cladding would probably be really great.
Though, going by the heat-capacity table,
it looks like what one really should use to chill one's drink
without weakening its flavour is to put a piece of frozen meat into it.