You’ve been lucky enough to get your hands on a premium aged bottle of whisky, but what is the best way to preserve its contents for as long as possible?
Due to the high alcohol content an unopened bottle of whisky never really goes bad. The alcohol acts as a preservative so as long as you don’t open the bottle you don’t have to worry about the whisky going bad, becoming stale or spoiling. On the other hand, this does not apply if you open your bottle. It is widely known that the more exposure to air the whisky has, then the faster it will degrade. This level of degradation happens at a far slower rate than that of wine or beer, so if the necessary steps are taken to prevent degradation you can expect to have a full tasting whisky good to consume for a long period of time after opening.
How long is that period of time I hear you ask. The common rule people follow is that half a bottle of whisky will last a full year before it starts to lose its taste and then a further year before the taste has altered so much that it is no longer enjoyable. However, the closer to empty the bottle becomes, the quicker the degradation speeds up. This is due to there being more air in the bottle than whisky. At about the third full mark a bottle of whisky’s tastes is only expected to hold for a few months.
So how do you go about keeping the whisky at its highest level for as long as possible? We have four main points for you to consider.
Firstly, as previously mentioned, reduce the whisky’s exposure to air as much as possible. Air oxidises whisky, which leads to the breakdown of compounds leading to a negative effect on the taste. The more air that is in your bottle of whisky the quicker the taste will deteriorate so once the whisky gets below the half way mark we would suggest decanting it into a smaller container that can be sealed. This is a sure way to reduce the levels of oxidation.
Secondly, protect your whisky from being exposed to heat. Sustained exposure to heat will lead to evaporation. Alcohol evaporates easier than water so the alcohol content along with taste, will be effected during evaporation. The good news is that this is very easy to stop by simply storing the whisky in a cold dark place. Keep away from sunlight or radiators and you can’t go wrong.
This leads us on to our third point of action, the way the whisky is stored. It’s understandable that being an owner of a premium whisky you may want to show it off and display it for everyone to see. That makes sense and it’s easily doable with just a couple basic principles applied. As previously mentioned a cool dark place is ideal so not a cabinet next to a window that sun shines through is a good place to start. Another point to take not of would be to ensure the whisky bottle is standing up as opposed to being racked like wine. The whisky coming into contact with the stopper, especially if its cork, can lead to un-wanted flavours tainting the whisky.
Lastly but by no means least, protect your whisky from light. UV rays break down certain compounds in the whisky, which hugely affects its look as well as taste. All sources of light need to be avoided whether that’s sunlight or artificial. Be careful of any storage cabinets or shelves that have built in spot/strip lights as these powerful light sources can have a really damaging effect on premium whisky.
If you follow all these basic steps we have outlined you will be able to enjoy your whisky for at least 12 months after opening and have the chance to share it’s unique expression with as many friends as possible.