Many whiskey enthusiasts are ice enthusiasts, too. They’re are on a quest for the perfect clear ice sphere whether it’s because of slower melting (due to shape and density) or just because they look fantastic. But grandiose plans aren’t fulfilled because clumsy DIY ways to create ice spheres are bulky and hit-or-miss. And all sorts of tips to create clear ice through directional freezing, filtering and boiling your water first, and adjusting temperatures so you don’t freeze too quickly, never achieve perfection.
There are plenty of commercially-available directional freezing kits. I supported a startup that actually makes extremely clear ice spheres, but it’s nearly impossible to remove the mold and the two-piece mold itself doesn’t create a tight enough seal, so the spheres sometimes have a seam around their equators.
About five years ago, I reviewed Tudor Ice, which sold purified distilled water after removing virtually all dissolved oxygen, packaged in large cube molds ready for at-home freezing. The cubes were truly clear, but the company didn’t get enough support and their dreams melted away.
Enter GE Appliances and its FirstBuild appliance incubator in Louisville. I was invited to FirstBuild last year for a personal tour and it’s nothing short of amazing. The microfactory had just produced a run of ventless open-hearth pizza ovens and other appliances in various stages of design were making their way toward being production ready.
FirstBuild has a digital space and physical space with the tools that startups could never acquire on their own. Innovation and inspiration where everywhere, and you if have an idea, this is the place to collaborate. This is where the Forge Clear Ice System was born.
Forge launched the funding phase last year for what it calls the world’s first heated ice press combined with a countertop ice maker. Step one is the ice maker, which takes only about four hours to create large, perfectly clear blocks of ice, with none of the waste of directional freezing kits. Eight of the blocks can be stored at a time. Step two takes just about one minute—without any preheating or recovery time—as the ice press transforms the block into a flawless sphere.
But like O’Neill’s tragedy, despair returns. With an MSRP of $1,499.00 for the base level Forge Clear Ice System, without the optional ice monogram feature, it’s cost-prohibitive for most home bars. This must be a stretch even for the highest-end whiskey bars too, especially now.
The silver lining for me was learning about FirstBuild. GE Appliances has been such an important part of Louisville and FirstBuild further proves its commitment to the city.