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How long does whiskey last opened?

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peatlover32873 started a discussion

I have a bottle of springbank 10 year 100 proof 57% scotch whisky and i only had about 2 drams out of it and was wondering will it last a good 4 or 5 months if kept in a dark cool place? Will it taste the same as i opened it? I actually want to start a whisky collection but am worried about buying expensive whiskys and having them spoil down the road. also how long does whisky last unopened and sealed?

7 years ago

21 replies

@Victor
Victor replied

Most of the time whiskies improve after the bottle is opened. Heavily peated whiskies, however, do lose a good bit of the strength of the peating within a period of months of open bottle. I wouldn't be concerned at all for at least 2+ years for the quality of most whiskies. With heavily peated whiskies I would expect the nearly full peating to remain only for a month, maybe two months. Unopened the whiskies should be the same upon opening 100 years from now.

7 years ago 0

great thank you. Won't the air get at the whisky though and make it evaporate? @Victor

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@peatlover32873, you shouldn't lose much whisky due to evaporation with the bottle capped between uses.

7 years ago 0

@Bigtuna
Bigtuna replied

Kinda off subject, but Victor. So along what you said, a very peaty whisky will lose some of the peat taste after being opened?

7 years ago 0

@Bigtuna I think hes saying the full peat blast will only last in the whisky for 2 months tops. Maybe it keeps but starts to fade after a couple months?

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@peatlover32873 and @Bigtuna, yes, exactly, there is a gradual diminishment of the peated flavours in a heavily peated whisky after the opened bottle has been exposed to the air, and it is even more true of the smokey quality of the peat than of the underlying earthy peated flavour. Some of the heavily peated whiskies, eg Ardbeg Uigeadail, use water sources with a lot of peat in them in addition to drying the malted barley using peat smoke. The smoke will be the component which is the most volatile and the easiest to lose.

7 years ago 0

@Victor Oh ok. so its just like when you need to drink hoppy craft beers right away because the first thing that goes in the beer is the hops. Im not sure if your familiar with craft beer but you need to drink a hoppy beer like a pliny the elder in like a month of bottling or there wont be much hop flavour left.

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@peatlover32873, yes, retaining the hoppiness of the high hops beer and the peat smoke of the highly peated malts by consuming them within a relatively short time after the beers were bottled and the malts' bottles were opened would appear to be parallel instances.

7 years ago 0

@WhiskyNotes
WhiskyNotes replied

@Victor In my experience, peated whisky will retain its full peat level for much longer than 2 months or even a couple of years. On the other hand I'm pretty sure no whisky will be the same after 100 years in a bottle, not even when the bottle was well closed. I've written about this in the latest Whisky Round Table: caskstrength.blogspot.com/2011/10/…

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@WhiskyNotes, my experience differs from yours. I find smoke levels in my Laphroaigs and Ardbegs very noticeably diminished after a couple of months of open bottle. Even so, the rate of diminishment which I have experienced is, while noticeable to me, not severe, but gradual. Peat flavour as differentiated from smokey peat flavour remains much more strongly intact for me. As to how well whisky will hold up in an unopened bottle after 100 years, that will make an interesting experiment requiring a lot of longevity.

7 years ago 0

@WhiskyNotes
WhiskyNotes replied

It's simply an impossible experiment as nobody will have tried the same whisky when it was freshly bottled. Actually I've tasted whiskies that spent nearly 100 years in glass and they do have metallic notes that are commonly attributed to the glass ageing (OBE or "Old bottle effect"). But I've noticed this after 30-40 years as well sometimes , so I wouldn't risk to keep them for 100 years as you say.

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@WhiskyNotes, yes, tasting the same whisky 100 years later is an impossible experiment, for even if a person lived that long how good would your gustatory/olfactory memory have to be to make a comparison? Metallic 'Old Bottle Effect'...interesting, mostly from the Sodium and Calcium compounding the silicates in the glass, I wonder?

In any case, I don't expect to be holding many bottles for 30+ years, though I would enjoy tasting a few old bottles to investigate the Old Bottle Effect.

7 years ago 0

@Andrew
Andrew replied

WhiskyNotes .. I've done an experiment in the past .. with the Ardbeg 17 .. I've mentioned it here in some thread and in alt.drinks.Scotch.Whisky way back when I did it. As I remember it..

Two bottles of the Ardbeg 17 (from a block of 6 all bought when I learned it was going to disappear) one open about 6 months one fresh. 4 (5?) friends and a blind tasting.. Nobody thought it was the same distillery let alone the same whisky.. both were enjoyed, the split of favorites was 50/50 but the notes showed a very different profile..

and Victor As I understand things the phenols which provide the peat / smoke flavours are unstable chemicals, prone to oxidation, the more oxygen they come in to contact with the more pronounced the change will be. So for example if you take a couple of drams from a bottle on one night and then leave it alone for six months it probably wont change all that much but if you have one dram every couple weeks you will be exposing it to much more air and giving it a greater opportunity to oxidize. Leaving the bottle closed in a dark place with a stable temperature should virtually eliminate the opportunity for oxidization or indaeed any other potentially degrading chemical reaction..

If someone can supply me with a couple more bottles of the 17 I would be happy to recreate the experiment.

7 years ago 1Who liked this?

@WhiskyNotes
WhiskyNotes replied

Interesting! Maybe Ardbeg 17 was not the best subject, it's probably one of the least peaty and least powerful Ardbegs ever.

What I was trying to say, is that every bottle changes right after opening (usually for the better) and I have the impression there's nothing you can do. But after that, I'm experiencing far less changes. I would even say a freshly opened bottle doesn't display the right profile (or at least a profile that's gone before you know it). It would be interesting to directly compare a bottle that's freshly open, one that's open for two weeks / months and one that's open for two years. I'm guessing the last two will be very similar. Again, really interesting...

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@WhiskyNotes, I don't know if you are drinking many bourbons and ryes with your malts, but, as I have previously posted on quite a few occasions I have had maybe 4 or 5 experiences of extreme changes in whiskeys after a bottle has been open as much as two years. I had a bottle of Elijah Craig 12 yo that had a horrible soapy flavour for two full years before it suddenly and completely vanished, leaving me with a whiskey that tasted almost completely unlike all previous tastes of it, and which I liked very much. These changes after the bottles are opened are not always subtle, small, and diminishing. In the case of malts, I have had bottles of Talisker 10 and HP 12 change radically, for the better, after 7 and 5 months respectively.

7 years ago 0

@StevieC
StevieC replied

I agree with comments made in this conversation. I too have an opened bottle of Talisker 10, and it has improved significantly over the past 8-10 months. It seems smoother, with less afterburn, and I am picking up sweeter notes from the whisky. I usually keep my bottles in the basement, or in a cellar on a cold cement floor, where it is dark. Slightly cooler than room temperature. I watched an interview with a master distiller of armagnac, who said that if opened liquor is properly stored, in a cool, dark place, with little temperature fluctuation, that the liquid inside of the bottle is impervious to damage to the overall quality of the drink. I have bottles that I've had for over 5 years, and they still taste fantastic! Changes are too slight or negligible for me to even notice. Beer and wine is a different story! If possible, you can melt candle wax over the opened bottle cap, if you know that you won't be touching it for months to come. I hope this helps!

6 years ago 0

@Abunadhman
Abunadhman replied

@StevieC, An interesting move is to decant full bottles into a large decanter and when the Whisky seems to be drinking at its' best transfer it to a small decanter (300ml.) or small Whisky bottle (200ml.) with very little air space; Drink the remainder of the bottle and have some prime Whisky set aside that, provided your bottle and stopper are spotless, will keep for generations.

Taken to extremes this method could provide a miniature in years to come of your 'all time favourite Whisky'.

I have a small amount of a lovely 100 proof Glenfarclas in a Gordon and McPhail's 4oz. glass flask that has been open and for more than 20 years and it's doing fine.

6 years ago 0

@StevieC
StevieC replied

@A'bunadhman That makes perfect sense, and is great advice! I will start saving some smaller bottles to decant. How old is your Glenfarclas? It sounds like a fine whisky indeed! Thanks A'bunadhman.

6 years ago 0

@Abunadhman
Abunadhman replied

@StevieC, The Glenfarclas, according to Gordon and McPhail was made some time in the 70's. After that date they were denied access to raw spirit: In correspondence, G&Mc suggested that the extreme quality of the Whisky was due in no small part to them using their own specially selected casks.

The Whisky had no age statement but was declared 100proof.

6 years ago 0

tfahey1298 replied

Avery interesting topic of discussion....

It reminds me of the young whisky lover that while visiting the distillery that produced his favourite dram had the opportunity to speak to the master distiller and asked that very question"how long does whisky last once the bottle is opened?"

The old malt master took some time to reply, and looking back into the eyes of the younger man, with an expression of sadness in his own, said, "Ach, laddie, ye have a bigger problem than worrying about that - ye have no friends!"

Here's to good whisky, shared with good friends! Slainte!

6 years ago 4Who liked this?

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