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How to properly store your whiskey bottles

How to properly store your whiskey bottles

Are your whiskey bottles starting to pile up? Don’t fret, as long as whiskey is stored properly it can be kept for a very long time. Storing the bottles in the right conditions can help keep the whiskey tasting its best, especially if you’re saving a select few for a special occasion or to add to your collection. If you’re like most whiskey fans and you’ve accumulated more than you can (responsibly) drink, then these storage tips will help.

Always keep the bottles upright

Wine and other spirits can be stored horizontally, whiskey cannot. The reason? When high strength alcohol like whiskey comes into contact with the cork, it can cause it to disintegrate. Or worse yet, impart bad flavors onto the taste of your whiskey. Avoid this potential scenario by always storing the bottle upright. 

Control the temperature 

Extreme temperatures can be a disaster for storing whiskey. Depending on where you store the bottles, it’s important to maintain a consistent temperature if possible. A cool place to store them is even better. There is no optimal temperature but a room that has a constant temperature is better than one with a lot of fluctuation. The reason is that fluctuating temperatures can cause the liquid to expand. Every bottle has a certain amount of headspace (the gap between the whiskey and the cork), and as we mentioned, you want to avoid having the liquid come into contact with the cork.

Avoid direct sunlight

Direct sunlight can also do a number on your whiskey if you aren’t careful. Long exposure of sunlight can throw off the balance of the spirit and a chemical reaction could occur, degrading the flavors. Plus, obviously a ton of sunlight would raise the temperature of the liquid in the bottle, altering the spirit. If you have a dark, cool place (like a cellar or basement) to store your whiskey that’s the best option. 

Pay occasional attention to the cork

For the most part, the alcohol vapors present inside a bottle will keep the cork moist. But there are times when a cork dries out and can result in air leaking out of the bottle, causing oxidation. Some oxidation is a normal part of the aging process in the cask, but too much oxidation can completely alter the taste of your whiskey. And not in a good way. Tilt your bottles two to three times a year to wet the cork and then put the bottle back in its upright position. This will keep the cork fresh.  

Finish open bottles within two months

As previously stated, oxidation is a naturally occurring process with whiskey. Sometimes the oxidation can improve the flavor halfway through but regardless, it WILL affect the taste. Once a bottle has been opened, it can oxidize faster and the flavor compounds can become dull. Because of that, you want to pay attention to when you open a bottle and aim to finish it within two months. For bottles you can’t finish in a few months, consider decanting the whiskey into small sample bottles. Smaller bottles mean less oxygen, and thus, less oxidation. 

Enjoy them while they last 

Yes there’s fun in collecting rare bottles of whiskey, but if you’re simply collecting bottles to invest and profit off of them, you’re missing out on a great deal of enjoyment. Whiskey is meant to be savored and thoroughly enjoyed with great company. And distillers pour (pun intended) their time and energy into creating spirits that they believe one day will be appreciated. Store your bottles with the intention of it being a short-term solution and drink up. 

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