Whiskey Won’t Last Forever; Here’s How to Maximize Your Bottle’s Shelf Life
Does whiskey go bad? It’s a common question among whiskey consumers and for good reason. Many times someone has invested in a nice bottle, with hopes to save it for a special occasion. But how long will that bottle last? Should it stay sealed until it’s ready to be enjoyed?
We’re answering these questions and offering tips to help give your home bar the longest shelf life possible.
Does Whiskey Go Bad?
The answer to whether whiskey can go bad is both yes and no. If unopened and stored correctly, whiskey will last longer than you will. Whiskey isn’t like milk, which spoils and can make you sick, but it does have the possibility of changing over time after being opened. Once a bottle is opened, it will start to oxidize and change its flavor. If not stored properly, whiskey will spoil just like any other food or beverage.
Whiskey that is properly sealed and stored in a cool, dark place will last practically forever. The only exception is if the seal has been broken and the cork has dried out, letting oxygen in and causing the whiskey to spoil. Once opened, a bottle of whiskey will start to change flavor after about 6-8 weeks. This is due to oxidation – just like how an apple turns brown when exposed to air.
Ideally, you should finish a bottle of whiskey within 6-8 weeks of opening it in order to enjoy the absolute most intense flavors. However, an open bottle of whiskey can last for years and decades without going bad when stored in an ideal location. Many whiskey enthusiasts enjoy the experience of watching bottles change and develop over years as the whiskeys — and their owner’s palates — change.
Tips to Help Your Opened Whiskey Bottle Last
Even the most die-hard whiskey drinker won’t normally finish a bottle in a week, let alone a single sitting. Thus, storing bottles is something every drinker must think about. There are a few things you can do to help extend its shelf life. First, it’s important to store whiskey properly.
Ideally, you should keep it in a cool, dark place like a cabinet or pantry, but not above the oven, as it can become too warm. With exposure to too much light or heat, whiskey can begin to deteriorate. Sunlight and other sources of intense UV light are very damaging to whiskey and other distilled spirits. For that reason, whiskey enthusiasts should definitely avoid placing bottles on windowsills, ledges or in rooms with constant, direct light for large parts of the day.
Second, be sure to tightly seal your bottles after each use. This will help to prevent evaporation and keep oxygen out. If you notice that your bottles are beginning to lightly condensate – don’t worry! This isn’t a sign of a poor seal or degradation of your whiskey. This actually demonstrates that your whiskey is properly sealed and no oxygen is escaping.
Why the Freezer is Not the Best Storage Place For Whiskey
You may have heard that storing whiskey in the freezer is a good way to keep it fresh. After all, freezing whiskey will prevent evaporation, and it can also help to preserve the flavor of the spirit. However, there is one particular reason why you don’t want to store whiskey in the freezer: it can dull the flavors. Furthermore, the average freezer is not typically roomy enough to accommodate more than a few bottles which can be problematic if you’ve built up a small collection of bottles.
If you pour a glass of whiskey that has been stored in the freezer, you’ll likely find that it doesn’t have the same depth of flavor as whiskey that has been stored at room temperature. If you prefer your whiskey chilled, adding an ice cube or two to your dram will yield the best results for flavor while still keeping your drink cool. Frozen whiskey dulls your taste buds as it cools them, making it harder to taste flavors – good or bad.
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