Whisky is a drink designed for slow consumption. This almost inevitably means that you will have more than one bottle in your bar, and if you are a serious collector forethought about how you store your spirits is essential. How and where you keep your whiskies will impact their taste and longevity for opened bottles, while preserving your unopened bottles that you may be saving for a special occasion is equally important. Just as with other spirits, the conditions whisky is exposed to will influence its taste, aromas and distinguishing characteristics. While a cellar is the ideal place to keep your single malts, for those who do not have such a space in their home there are ways to easily store your whisky and keep it in pristine condition.
Does Whisky Go Bad?
The high alcohol content of whisky might lead some to believe that it cannot go off. While it is not as extreme as other spirits—such as wine—oxidation can impact your whisky and cause a change in taste. Oxidation and dissipation play an important role during the maturation process, breaking down the alcohol module in the casks. While whisky will not continue to age once it is bottled, these processes can continue to occur once a bottle is opened if it is not sealed properly.
Sunlight and temperature are other environmental factors that can cause whisky to go bad before its time. These elements can cause your whisky to evaporate faster, as well as lose its colour and negatively impact its flavour. The ultraviolet rays in direct sunlight will slowly bleach the rich colours of your whisky. Temperature has similar influence on whisky, which is why we are very intentional with the temperature of our warehouses when maturing our spirits. Higher temperatures may cause your whisky to evaporate, while extreme low temperatures can cause your whisky to take on a cloudy appearance (although this should disappear once the bottle is restored to room temperature).
Finally, it is important to be mindful of the condition of your cork that you are using to seal your whisky. Corks can become cracked or degrade if they are in contact with the spirit, which in turn can contaminate the whisky. As your cork is the primary tool used to keep your bottle sealed, ensuring it is in good condition is key to the long term storage of your whiskies.
All of these elements serve to speed up the oxidation process, so mindful storage of both your opened and unopened bottles of whisky is essential.