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Let’s talk about… storing whisky

Let’s talk about… storing whisky

A candidate contacted us recently to ask whether a piece of cork found floating in a bottle of whisky could spoil its flavour. It is a good question and variations of it are frequently asked: How long does whisky last? Can whisky oxidise in the bottle? Can whisky go bad? And so on.

We thought it was a good time to answer some of these questions and shed some light on the optimum way to store and care for your whisky.

5 ways to look after your whisky collection

  1. Direct sunlight is not a friend to whisky. Do yourself a favour and keep your collection somewhere safe, not exposed to strong sun rays.

  2. Whiskies like the cooler temperatures. Room temperature or below is best. Cellars and basements are good, so long as they don’t get too humid. Whatever you do, avoid keeping your bottles above a heater.

  3. Store your collection upright. The cork can dry out but, when stored horizontally, the high alcohol content of whisky can eat away at the cork. This could allow more air in during storage and potentially ruin the seal.

  4. Limit oxygen as much as possible. The goal here is to maintain flavour by keeping bottles from oxidising. This can be achieved by decanting an open bottle into a smaller bottle(s). Some whisky fans swear by using a sprayable blend of inert gases such as Private Preserve. We’ve not tried this so can’t personally recommend it – if you want to share your experience of this method, we’d love to hear from you.

  5. Consider the shelf-life of your open bottles. Once a bottle of whisky has been opened the alcohol will start to (very) slowly evaporate. While the shelf-life of an open bottle of whisky is a much-debated subject, the general view seems to accommodate anything between six months and two years. How the taste will change over time is variable. Sometimes, it can improve while other times the results can be, shall we say, less positive. Best not to risk it.

Finally, that little piece of floating cork? If a piece of cork breaks off and gets into your whisky bottle, don’t despair the whisky will not be ruined! We suggest you filter it out using a sieve or coffee filter paper. Left in and with time, it could be eroded by the whisky which might affect the flavour.

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