How Long Does Whiskey Keep Once Opened?Edit Post
Contributed by on Aug 30, 2016
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DrinkWire is Liquor.com's showcase for the best articles, recipes and reviews from the web's top writers and bloggers. In this post, The Whiskey Wash offers advice on storing your favorite bottles of whiskey.
(image: The Whiskey Wash)
How long does whiskey keep? In the simplest terms, it lasts almost forever. Distilled spirits don’t spoil. They won't make you sick like old milk and won’t turn to vinegar like beer and wine.
But in practice, a bottle of whiskey doesn’t last forever. (Ah, if only!) Once you open a bottle of whiskey, exposure to light, air and temperature fluctuations start to change its flavor.
Initially, that can be a good thing. We’ve all had the experience of opening a bottle, tasting it right away and not particularly enjoying its contents. Coming back to that same bottle a month, we find a spirit that feels much more integrated and cohesive on the palate.
But what about the long term? Eventually, open bottles of whiskey will start to oxidize, losing some fragrance and flavor. Some experts say bottles should be finished within a year or two; others feel five years is the limit, as long as you follow these recommendations:
1. Limit Light
Your whiskey collection might be beautiful enough to display out in the open, but it’ll last longer if you keep it behind a cabinet door. Many whiskeys are packaged in dark glass bottles for exactly this reason. If your bottle came in a canister or box, storing it inside the original packaging can provide another layer of protection.
2. Limit Temperature Fluctuations
Cool room temperature is fine, but try not to go hotter. Avoid warm rooms, indirect sun, radiators, furnace vents and other heat sources. Good places to store your whiskey: basements, root cellars or even the bottom shelf in your pantry. (We know, we know—your collection is anything but "bottom shelf.")
3. Limit Oxygen
If you’re trying to preserve a bottle for long-term consumption, consider investing in a vacuum sealer, the kind used by bars and restaurants to keep open bottles of wine fresh longer.
4. Store Bottles Upright
Whereas wine needs to remain horizontal to prevent the cork from drying out, stronger spirits will actually eat away at cork, imparting flavors to the spirit and potentially ruining the seal.
Lastly, and most importantly, stop saving that half-full bottle of fancy booze for a special moment. Start making your everyday indulgences more special by drinking that prized possession before it starts to lose the flavors that made it fancy in the first place.