You know the bottle of good whisky you keep lying around, only to crack open on a special occasion? Yes the one you think you bought with your first pay check, and are really hoping to make last until your retirement. Ever wondered if will simply be no good by the time you even get that promotion you’ve been wanting for so long?
Hold on. There is no reason to panic. It is whisky, not a banana but you might want to consider the fact that whisky isn’t as durable as many people consider it to be.
Can Whisky Go Bad?
Absolutely. Whisky can go bad, and it definitely will unless you take real good care of it.
There are a LOT of things that can slowly, but certainly make a bottle of whisky lose its goodness. Of course it won’t be rancid, or even smell foul, or taste bad. What will happen is that the fragrance will begin to diminish, and the flavours will begin to fade away.
Let us try and understand what causes a whisky to lose its quality over time, so that we can learn how to defeat the enemies of our cherished water of life.
How Does Whisky Go Bad?
Oxidation is one of the key contributors to a whisky going bad, and it must be avoided at all costs. Cracked corks, too much space for air in the bottle and many other factors can lead to oxidation. It slowly degrades the quality of your whisky, affecting everything from the taste, aroma and even colour of your whisky.
The more your whisky is exposed to air, its chances of oxidation will exponentially increase.
Another crucial bit you want to avoid is direct sunlight. Whether a bottle of whisky is opened or unopened, if it is in direct contact with sunlight for extended periods of time, it will soon begin to suffer. Whisky, and even other alcoholic beverages including wine can deteriorate in quality if subject to prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
Not just sunlight, even high temperature surroundings can hamper the quality of your whisky. Places where the temperatures are consistently higher such as kitchens, or in close proximity to radiators and other sources of heat such as electronic appliances must be avoided.
How Can You Avoid These Things?
Well for starters, you can start with one rule of thumb – finish any bottle of whisky that you open within six months. If you do it in three, even better! We will tell you why this is important.
The longer an opened bottle of whisky stays in your cabinet, or on your bar counter, the more time it has to interact with the air. Now, the more whisky you drink out of the bottle, the more space you leave for the air. You see the conundrum we’re all in?
So either you finish the whisky soon, either by being a good host, or being someone that really doesn’t like to share whisky. Or you learn the art of transferring your whisky to smaller containers to in order to prevent oxidation. Smaller containers leave lesser space for air to accumulate therefore greatly slowing the process of oxidation down. This enables you to enjoy your favourite whisky whenever you would want to, and not be forced to polish it off.
You might also want to store your bottles upright – always. Placing bottles of whisky, unopened or otherwise, leads to increased contact between the spirit and the cork. Prolonged contact with the spirit can cause the cork to dry out, crack and even crumble. This again leads to oxidation, the number one enemy for a bottle of whisky. Imagine an expensive, unopened bottle of The Glenlivet, laying sideways in your bar counter. It lays there, waiting for a special occasion and after a while, the alcohol manages to break the cork down. All that phenomenal single malt ruined by air! That is simply heart-breaking isn’t it?
Now with sunlight and higher temperatures, they are both something you want to avoid at all costs. The areas of your home with little to no exposure to direct sunlight is the best place to build your own home bar. Wine cellars exist in order to avoid this very constraint, keeping the good stuff tucked away from heat and sunlight.
Do not store your whisky bottles in the kitchen, or near an electronic appliance that gets warm. Higher temperatures have an adverse effect on the spirit in the long run, and if there is one thing we would like to suggest, it is that don’t take chances.
There is another thing you must keep in mind, and that is to avoid repeated changes of where you store the whisky. Repeated changes of where the whisky is stored can result in fluctuations of light contact and temperature, which is needless to say, undesirable.
That is everything you need to know about storing whisky at home in the best way possible so that you can preserve the integrity of something you treasure with all your heart.