Having a whisky collection one can be proud of is a dream for many whisky enthusiasts. While most collectors might never find future financial gain from buying expensive bottles of single malts, there are certainly plenty of other benefits that come with the love for whisky. In order for you to be able to enjoy whisky at its best, it’s important to be aware of and adopt easy storing practices to keep whisky as great as it can be for as long as possible. You’ll only really need to know a few things before you can store whisky like a pro.
Whether you buy a cheap bottle of whisky or invest a couple of hundred on a 12-year old bottle, you’ll be glad to know that you’ll never have to worry about a “proper” time to enjoy your drink. As long as a whisky bottle remains sealed little change happens in the bottle. Whisky stops maturing the moment it is bottled, so you’ll never have to worry about your whisky maturing past its prime. Bottling basically puts whisky and everything good about it into suspended animation—until it’s opened and introduced to air. However, even a sealed bottle should be stored in the right conditions in order to prevent it from transforming. As over a period of years, minor changes can happen in the bottle.
A sealed bottled of whisky has two enemies: light and temperature. As long as you can keep your bottle away from those two things, your whisky should fare just fine. It’s important to note that you should store your whisky upright. Never put your whisky on the path of direct sunlight. Some good places for whisky bottle storage include cabinets, cupboards, basements, or wine cellars. Air conditioning is good for temperature control. You never want your whisky bottles in a room with fluctuating temperatures. That’s never good for your liquid gold.
The same storage rules apply to unsealed whisky bottles, and more. Opened bottles have an additional enemy: oxidation. No need to go into the scientific details here, but you need to know that exposure to air will transform your whisky—always from good to bad. Therefore, you can imagine that the less your whisky is exposed to air, the better it will be for a longer time. As a general rule, if a bottle of whisky is comprised of 25% air, it probably has a good year left before it becomes undrinkable. If a bottle is mostly 75% air, you might as well enjoy it now because it could turn on any given day of the week.
There are ways you can make opened whiskies last longer. If you’re more than halfway through a bottle, you might consider transferring it to a smaller, airtight container in order to reduce the interaction it could have with air. You could also use polyseal caps instead of the usual caps that bottles come with. Polyseal caps are better at preventing the leakage of air into the whisky bottle. In addition, you could also use wine preserver sprays, which act as a separator between the whisky and air. Any of these measures should help prolong the shelf life of your whisky.
That is certainly the question. Again, we have to go back to the enemy that is oxidation. The simple fact is the more you expose your whisky to air, the shorter its good life will be. While decanting looks great, there’s really no better place for your whisky other than its own bottle. Unless you plan on finishing your bottle within the next few weeks, there’s really no advantage to decanting. Any unnecessary pouring of whisky should just be avoided.
Remember that over time, the alcohol content (ABV) of whisky will not change much, but its taste certainly will. That transformation in quality is something you have much control over, and it’s all in how you store away your whisky. Just know that the better you take care of your whisky, the better it’ll take care of you in the long run.