Does Whisky go bad?

Many connoisseurs have numerous Whisky bottles in their bar. The shelf life of Whisky depends on whether the bottle is opened or unopened.

How to store unopened Whisky

Whisky is stored upright. In contrast to Wine, however, Whisky in unopened bottles doesn't become better (or worse) during storage. Whisky only matures in the cask when it has contact to the oak wood. The bottles must be stored upright, since the cork doesn't close as tightly as a Wine cork. Whisky corks are designed for multiple uses, whereas Wine corks are disposable.

Whisky mustn't be exposed to direct sunlight, since the ultraviolet rays bleach out the colour pigments over time. A bar cabinet or a package protect the Whisky from light. That way it's possible to store Whisky for more than ten years. However, since tiny amounts of liquid evaporate through the cork, the filling level will decrease over time. You can monitor the liquid level of a bottle by marking the neck on the back with a felt pen. 

If you're a collector and want to store Whisky for a longer period of time, you have to give more thought to it. First of all, the temperature should be lower than room temperature. The lower the temperature, the less Whisky evaporates. An additional cap on top of the cork can also help, but take care that the cap doesn't soil or damage the original sleeve. This would reduce the value of the bottle, as would sealing wax.

Bottles with screw-tops must be retightened by hand regularly, since they always loosen on their own, which leads to increased evaporation.

When you store bottles in the basement, you should also protect them from humidity. In a damp basement the label starts to mould easily. A thin plastic bag is ideal to pack the Whisky airtight. But beware! The plastic bag mustn't contain any plasticisers or other chemicals. They could bleach out the label and affect the bottle contents through the cork.

How does open Whisky changes its taste?

Opened Whisky behaves differently. The taste changes. However, it takes much longer than with wine, which must be consumed within few days. Opened Whisky has a shelf life of between six months and two years. What happens in the bottle during that time?

First alcohol evaporates and the taste of the Whisky becomes smoother. Furthermore, the air in the bottle contains active gases that slowly react with the flavour substances of the Whisky. How the taste changes can't be predicted. Sometimes it becomes better, but also often worse.

To prevent these changes, reduce the air contact of the Whisky by filling it into a smaller bottle. But please don't use a decanter. We don't know of any high-quality decanter that is truly tight over a longer period of time. The decanter must have a plastic seal or a ground glass joint.

However, it’s best not have too many Whisky bottles open and to drink those you open within a few months.

How to seal a bottle of Whisky

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