View Full Version : Plastic Bottle Caps and Oxidation
I'm about to open a bottle of Eagle Rare 101 Ten year-old that I bought by mistake. (I thought I was ordering ER Single Barrel.)
The cap on this bottle is the plastic, screw-off kind, with a security ring that detaches along a serration the first time the bottle is opened and remains on the bottle. I've noticed before that this type of cap seems to provide inadequate sealing, but this one is the sloppiest I've seen. I can turn it a half-turn before it runs out of travel and starts to apply force to the serration that attaches to the break-away, security ring.
I've posed a similar question before without prompting a full answer. Do these caps adequately protect the contents from oxidation or even contamination by airborne particulate or gaseous agents?
The cap on this bottle was snug. However, there's nothing to prevent a shopper, while handling the bottle, to loosen the cap up to a half turn. I think that such an action is tempting because the absence of a visible seal makes the bottle look as though it has already been opened. In that case, why not at least start to open it, with the idea of taking a little sniff (dare I say "swig"?) before buying it?
I know that Julian uses this type of cap on some of his bottlings, and I've never had a bottle of his whiskey that I thought was contaminated. In fact, at least one person here has commented that eliminating the cork eliminates one possible source of undesirable flavors. Am I being paranoid about this? (Remember, one can be paranoid and still have real enemies, too. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif )
I have noticed to same thing but did not become as alarmed as you have Dave. As a matter of fact I loosened the cap as far as I could on a bottle that I did not want to open lately and nothing came out. I had to pop it any way. BettyeJo can render this lucid, I think there are 2 kinds of those plastic caps and someone has them on a super premium product because they are better than cork.
The cap you describe is the most common used in the industry...If used proper there will be no problems...
On major part of my job is the cap's (and fill) at Heaven Hill...I change "all" the cappers in a line change...On every line...A line change is changing the machine to run another size bottle like going from ltr to a 750 etc...
Your cap description, sounded as if it did not have enough torque...It can be tight and look just fine but "chuck" has ta come all the way down with the right amout of torque...or...you will get the example that you describe...
There are two size caps...28mm and 33mm...A twenty eight requires a torque of no less than 12 and not more than 22...A twenty eight requires a torque of no less that 20 and no more than 26...I have to check and record my findings on each line many, many times throughout the night...Sometimes...I get busy...and can't get to it...Then, it's up to the inspectors to follow through...
There are different brands of caps...Heaven Hill uses Owen Illinois and Kerr...The Kerr is used only for the Christrian Brother's 750 brandy (silver). We have "went through" many name brands of caps...Some of em don't need to be in the business...but I will say that OI is by far the best in my view of a line mechanic...
Not long ago the Alcoa folks ---Capper folks--- came by to show me a bunch of stuff on the "wine capper"...It uses "metal caps" my least favorite cap and I just hate the sob's...
Back to the story, with the capper folks...One was from Pa. and the other one was from Indiana...Hmmmmmmmm http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif they will remember me http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif...Now let me tell ya, I learned more from those two guys in one night than a entire span of 6 months of on the job training...They know their stuff http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
Mark has pointed out to me in a PM that I raised the same issue about a year ago in my Old Charter thread. A post by Omar (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Cat=&Board=Tasting&Number=8164&pa ge=&view=&sb=5&o=&vc=1) and another by Bettye Jo gave some insight.
Setting aside the fact that we older folks often repeat ourselves repeat ourselves inadvertently, I am still curious as to the possibility of contamination. (Mark pointed out that in some cases he has found it possible to open the cap far enough to dribble out some bourbon without breaking the seal -- using bottles he has already purchased, I'm sure. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif ) Can anyone address the contamination issue?
I remember that in particular, the bottle I was able to do this with was Old Rip Van Winkle... I forgot whether it was the 10 or 15 yo but they all have the same caps so it doesn't really matter. Upon loosening the cap to the point right before the seal would have begin to crack, I inverted the bottle and shook it ever so slightly... I must say that had I not stopped, with enough time the bottle would have emptied completely. But with the cap secured tightly I would say that the plastic caps are just fine for secure and enjoyable bourbon consumption. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif
One more thing that I forgot to mention...
Lined caps...Heaven Hill uses lined caps on all EXPORT bottlings...The reason...When a bottle is too full (which happens on occasion)...I am allowed 4 over or 4 under on legal fill point...
If the fill point is too high and the bottles stored in extreme heat...The fill point will rise...This, combined with the air pressure on a extended flight (like being shipped to Japan) a unlined cap will somtimes pop thier tops...Soooooooooo...number one rule...On EXPORT we use lined caps...
Just take a strong pair of scissors or a pair of diagonal cutter pliers and cut the ring off the neck. Then, you should be able to get a good seal.
I see that I did not state my point of concern clearly.
I have no difficulty screwing the cap on tightly enough to ensure a good seal. My concern, all based on hypothetical actions by others, is that it is possible for someone else to open the bottle, albeit very slightly, without separating the cap from the retaining ring (I should stop calling it a seal), and that the contents might thus be exposed to oxidation or contamination while the bottle sits on the shelf in the store.
The appearance of the plastic cap could cause an unobservant potential buyer to believe that there is no seal, inviting him/her to remove the cap for a little sniff. Upon feeling the resistance of the breakaway ring, s/he might merely stop, without retightening the cap, and replace the bottle on the shelf.
I'd be happier if there were a heavy, mylar foil seal affixed to the opening of the bottle, underneath the plastic cap.
Oh, sorry, I get it, now.
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