Unlike wine, whiskey does not continue to mature once it is in the bottle. If stored properly, an unopened bottle can remain more or less unchanged for hundreds of years! When you remove the cork, the whiskey will start to oxidize slowly, but it is still possible to extend the shelf life of the drink by keeping it in a well-sealed container and away from light and heat.
Method 1 of 2: Storing Whiskey in Unopened Bottles
Step 1. Protect the bottles from direct contact with light
Exposure to too much light - especially sunlight - triggers chemical reactions that discolor and affect the taste of whiskey. Keep the beverage in a dark area such as a dark wine cellar, cupboard, chest or pantry.
- If you're a collector or seller interested in displaying your bottles, remember that direct exposure to sunlight leaves the label washed out.
- If you need to display your whiskey somewhere where it will be exposed to light, place it behind a window with a covering that blocks UV rays.
Step 2. Leave the bottles in a place with cool and stable temperatures
Temperature fluctuations, and especially exposure to heat, can affect the quality of whiskey. When the beverage becomes hot, it expands in the bottle, which eventually damages the seal and allows oxygen to enter. Keep your bottles in a cool, controlled temperature location or container.
- Try to store it in an area where the temperature is between 15 and 20°C.
- Refrigerating or storing whiskey in the freezer is okay, but it is less flavorful and aromatic when it is chilled.
Step 3. Store bottles vertically
Always keep whiskey bottles upright. If they are lying down or upside down, the drink will be constantly in contact with the cork and will eventually deteriorate. This can affect the taste and allow oxygen to enter the bottle.
Step 4. Turn the bottles occasionally to moisten the cork
The stopper must not be in constant contact with the whiskey inside the bottle. However, a completely dry cork can crumble or break when you open the bottle. Keep it moist by turning the bottle upside down for a few seconds once a month.
Step 5. Store away from moisture (optional)
If the bottle is tightly sealed, moisture will not harm the drink. But if you want to keep it looking good, it's a good idea to store it in an area with low humidity. Excess can damage the label or even create mold.
Method 2 of 2: Keeping whiskey fresh after opening the bottle
Step 1. Continue to protect the whiskey from light and heat
After opening, you must continue to protect the drink from the outside elements. Store it in a cool, dark area such as a wine cellar, pantry, cupboard or box.
An open and full bottle can last up to a year if it is not in contact with heat and light
Step 2. Store whiskey in a tightly sealed container
The biggest enemy of an open bottle is oxygen. As it enters the bottle, the gas reacts with the whiskey, eventually weakening the flavor. Minimize the beverage's exposure to oxygen by keeping it tightly closed.
If the original stopper no longer fits, you can buy a bottle cap that creates a very tight seal, or you can transfer the whiskey into an airtight glass container
Step 3. Transfer to a decanter if desired
Unlike wine, whiskey receives no benefit from decanting. However, decanting it won't harm you either, and a decanter is an attractive and easy-to-serve container. It must have a very tight seal. Keep it in a cool, temperature-controlled area.
Avoid using decanters made of lead crystal. While these containers are very attractive and shiny, there is a risk of lead getting into the whiskey if you use them for long-term storage
Step 4. Quickly finish the bottle when it starts to run empty
The more “space” the bottle has, the faster the whiskey will start to oxidize. In other words, a fuller bottle will stay fresh much longer than one that is emptier.
- A fuller bottle of whiskey can last up to a year after opening, but one that is only a quarter full will lose flavor in a month. When the drink starts to dwindle in the bottle (at the ⅓ mark), it might be a good time to invite friends over for a whiskey!
- You can also keep it fresh longer by transferring it to smaller containers when the level in the bottle starts to drop.
Step 5. Keep whiskey longer with a preservative spray
Such sprays consist of harmless inert gases (such as nitrogen and argon) that create a buffer between the whiskey and oxygen that would normally accumulate in the empty part of the bottle. Although they are commonly sold as wine preserving sprays, they are also suitable for whiskey and other spirits.
- Follow the directions on the package to learn how to use the spray.
- You can buy this product online or you can try to find it at a liquor store.