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How to Store Whiskey

January 26, 2022 by Antone Boustani

Scotch doesn’t expire in the sense of being drinkable. Whisky is usually sold at 40% ABV (alcohol by volume) or higher, which is relatively high enough to prevent any bacteria, mould, or other contaminants from growing and spoiling the liquor. 

In theory, a bottle of whisky can last almost forever. However, the actual shelf life of any bottle depends on how well it has been stored, and this is impacted by a number of external factors. These include whether or not your bottle of whiskey has been opened, the lighting or humidity conditions where the bottle is stored, and even the air in the bottle. Simply put, not taking proper care of your bottles can make your whisky spoil faster.

All whisky collectors need to know how long a bottle of Scotch can and should last. Here, we’ll go through the steps you will need to take to ensure that your personal whisky collection will last as long as possible.
Unlike wine, whiskey does not continue to mature once it's in the bottle. If stored properly, a sealed bottle of whiskey can remain more or less unchanged for hundreds of years! Once you've uncorked it, your whiskey will begin to slowly oxidize, but you can still extend its life by keeping it in a well-sealed container away from light and heat.

Storing Whiskey in Unopened Bottles 

1.    Protect your bottles from direct light. Exposure to a lot of light—especially sunlight—sets off chemical reactions that will both discolor your whiskey and affect its flavor.[1] Keep your whiskey in a dark area, such as a wine cellar, cupboard, box, or darkened pantry.
•    If you are a collector or retailer interested in showing off your bottles, keep in mind that exposure to direct sunlight will also cause the label to fade.
•    If you must show off your whiskey some place where it will be exposed to light, consider placing it behind a window with a UV-blocking coating.

2.  Keep your bottles in a place with cool, stable temperatures. Temperature fluctuations, and especially exposure to heat, can affect the quality of your whiskey. When whiskey gets hot, it expands in the bottle, which can eventually damage the seal and let in oxygen. Keep your whiskey in a cool, temperature-controlled room or container.[2]
•    Try to store your whiskey in an area where the temperature stays between 15 and 20° C (59-68° F).
•    Refrigerating your whiskey or storing it in the freezer will not hurt it, but whiskey is less flavorful and aromatic when it is cold. 

3.    Store your bottles upright. Always keep your whiskey bottles in a vertical position. If stored horizontally or upside-down, your whiskey will constantly be in contact with the cork, eventually causing the cork to deteriorate. This can affect the taste of your whiskey and allow oxygen to leak into the bottle. 

4.   Turn your bottles occasionally to moisten the cork. You don't want your cork to be in constant contact with the whiskey in the bottle. However, a cork that is completely dry may crumble or chip when you open the bottle. Keep your cork moist by turning the bottle upside-down for a few seconds once a month.

5.   Store your bottles away from humidity (optional). If your bottle is well-sealed, humidity won't harm the whiskey itself. If you're concerned about keeping your bottles looking nice, however, it's a good idea to store them in an area with low humidity. Too much humidity can damage the label or even cause it to get moldy. 

Keeping Whiskey Fresh after Opening  

Most whiskey scientists believe that an opened bottle of whiskey lasts about 1 to 2 years—if it's half full. Whiskey expires about 6 months if it's a quarter or less full. That's because the less whiskey in the bottle, the more oxygen.

1.    Continue to protect your whiskey from light and heat. Once your whiskey is opened, you will need to keep protecting it from the elements. Store it in a cool, dark area, such as a wine cellar, pantry, cabinet, or box.
•    A mostly-full, opened bottle of whiskey should stay good for about a year if kept away from heat and light.

2.   Store your whiskey in a well-sealed container. The greatest enemy of an opened bottle of whiskey is oxygen. As oxygen gets into the bottle, it reacts with the whiskey, eventually dulling the flavor. Minimize your whiskey's exposure to oxygen by keeping it tightly sealed.[6]
•    If the original cork just isn't cutting it, you can purchase a bottle cap that creates an airtight seal (such as a Polyseal cap) or transfer your whiskey to a hermetically sealed glass container.

3.    Transfer your whiskey to a decanter, if you wish. Unlike wine, whiskey doesn't really benefit from being decanted. However, decanting your whiskey also won't harm it, and a decanter makes an attractive and flashy serving container. Just make sure your decanter has a tight seal, and keep it in a cool, temperature-controlled area.[7]
•    Avoid decanters made from leaded crystal. Although these containers are very attractive and sparkly, there is a risk of lead leaching into your whiskey if you use them for long-term storage.

4.    Finish off your bottle quickly once it starts to get low. The more “headroom” a bottle of whiskey has, the faster it will begin to oxidize. In other words, a mostly full bottle of whiskey will stay fresh a lot longer than a bottle that's mostly empty. 
•    A mostly full bottle of whiskey can stay good for up to a year after opening, but a bottle that's only a quarter full will start to get flat in about a month. Once your bottle starts getting low (e.g., at around the 1/3rd mark), it may be time to invite a few friends over for a drink!
•    You can also keep your whiskey fresh longer by transferring it into smaller containers as the level in the bottle starts to get low.

5.    Preserve whiskey longer with a preserving spray. These sprays consist of harmless, inert gasses (such as nitrogen and argon) that create a buffer between the whiskey and the oxygen that would normally collect in the empty part of the bottle. Although they are typically marketed as wine-preserving sprays, they also work for whiskey and other spirits.[9]
•    Follow the directions on the package to determine how to use the preserving spray.
•    You can purchase these sprays online, or you may be able to find them at your local liquor store.

Tips

•    If you have any used corks that are in good condition, save them. If you get a bottle with a faulty or damaged cork, you can replace it with one of the corks you saved.
•    Use glass marbles to reduce the amount of oxygen in a half or two thirds empty bottle to preserve the whiskey, but make sure they are clean and dry.
•    Use professional storage solutions. Whiskey can be stored in the same as red wine storage. Wine storage facilities have a walk in wine cellar. Wine Storage solutions are easy to find and make accessing your Whiskey easy. They protect your Whiskey as per the advice advised above.

If you love your Whiskey like us at Kennards Self Storage, then you will love to take care of your Whiskey and keep it secure – Especially if you like collecting a bottle or two. Use our specially designed wine storage cabinets that are perfectly suited to Whiskey Storage.

Storing whiskey is a passion of Kennards Self Storage. Kennards Storage has purpose built wine storage cabinets in temperature controlled environment that are accessible 24 hours a day. Whiskey storage can be easy to organise. Self storage is great because you have your own space and there are no lock in contracts meaning you only pay for the days used. The quoted amount is for a one month period. Pay for that period and then get a refund for the days not used if you move out before months end. This pro-rata amount is calculated to the day you finish. 

Visit Kennards Wine Storage here and you will find a very easy to use Website.


You will find Kennards Wine Storage and be able to view prices and sizes. You can then reserve or rent a space at a location near you with in a couple of clicks. 

Kennards Self Storage – Creating the Space for Change

 

Antone Boustani

Antone joined the Kennards Self Storage in 2012 as a Team Support Manager. Progressing to the roles of NSW Rostering Co-ordinator and Waterloo Centre manager led to the position of NSW Operations Manager in 2019. Antone has gained leadership skills at previous roles as a Manager at KFC and Decorug and did run his own business a Deli / Fruit shop called Naremburn Natural. He loves that we are the people that care and how that is achieved through procedures that enable our teams to offer great customer service. He is invested in improving himself and the team around him and believes that doing what you love is the key. Outside work Antone loves travelling overseas as much as getting on the open road and you can find him watching any type of sport but especially cricket.

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