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View Full Version : How long do I have if I "re-bottle" whiskey before oxidation starts damaging it?



humchan2k
12-14-2012, 11:05
Hi SB Nation,

I have a random question today, one I never really thought I would have to ask, hoping I can get some wisdom from the sages.

I recently lucked into 2 gallons of Old Fitz from the 60's (yay!) but I am going to have to transport them across the country after I pick them up....and I am worried about how I'm going to do it.

A gallon sized bottle is so big, it's actually 5 full 750ml bottles in one, and the last thing I want is for an entire gallon bottle of SW juice to break in my luggage and ruin everything in it and probably a couple of the suitcases nearby as well, so I am thinking about "decanting/re-bottling" it into 5 separate 750ml bottles and shipping it as a case of "wine" back with me.

The question: if I open a dusty and move the juice to 750ml bottles and close them right away, how long will they keep before oxidation starts to degrade the juice inside? I thought if I bottled and then left it sealed with a good cork or maybe even sanitized 750ml wine bottles with screw tops that they would be ok for at least a couple of years, right? Could they last for 5 years? 10? With a score of this magnitude, I'd like to be able to trot out a new bottle of Fitz every couple of years, but I know that I can't leave it all in a gallon bottle, cuz every time I open it to pour some out, it'll oxidize like crazy with all that air space in the bottle...ya know?

Any advice is greatly appreciated, I gotta save my SW! :)

Cheers,

B~

Tico
12-14-2012, 11:17
I doubt these were bottled under vacuum back in the day so these have probably been in contact with whatever small amount of air is in the bottle, between the juice and cap. I'd say you are probably safe decanting these into smaller 750ml screw cap wine bottles, leaving the least amount of air space possible

Trey Manthey
12-14-2012, 11:23
I wouldn't recommend trying to bring that haul back in checked bags. I think you'd be better off shipping it in well packed boxes.

Regarding the oxidation problem, you would be fine decanting into several smaller bottles with well fitting corks/caps. If you fill them up all the way to the top, there will be very little air for the bourbon to react with. If you are really worried about it, there is the wine preserver option...

humchan2k
12-14-2012, 11:30
I wouldn't recommend trying to bring that haul back in checked bags. I think you'd be better off shipping it in well packed boxes.

Regarding the oxidation problem, you would be fine decanting into several smaller bottles with well fitting corks/caps. If you fill them up all the way to the top, there will be very little air for the bourbon to react with. If you are really worried about it, there is the wine preserver option...

Yeah, I thought about filling them to the brim, for sure, but do you think they'll keep for 1 year that way? 5? 10?

I wouldn't try to haul tons of bottles back, I'm actually thinking I'll do 2 at a time in my swanky carrier I have, especially since it'll be at my parent's place and they come to visit pretty regularly :)

Trey Manthey
12-14-2012, 11:40
As long as the cap seals well and you leave it closed, once the air in the bottle has reacted with the bourbon, there should be very little change (if any) over several years time.

If you find that you have too much, I would be happy to "share the load." Like Samwise and Frodo taking the Ring to Mordor.

dryeager
12-14-2012, 11:41
Here is an interesting non-scientific experiment on this very subject. http://www.reddit.com/r/bourbon/comments/14tvjv/whiskey_and_big_bad_oxidation_an_experiment/

squire
12-14-2012, 11:53
If they are decanted into well sealed sanitized bottles they will last your lifetime. What's more important, how do you plan to ship them?

Yeti
12-14-2012, 13:29
I think the best idea is to ship to multiple states to maximize the likelihood that some will survive the trip. Feel free to PM me for my address.

Rockefeller
12-14-2012, 14:42
Just ship the bottles back as they are currently.

Get a big box -> fill box with styrofoam peanuts and paper -> wrap/tape bottle with bubble wrap -> put bottle in box and seal -> label box "Fragile Glass"

tanstaafl2
12-14-2012, 15:45
Seems like a lot of risk to ship it in the gallon bottles. it is certainly an awkward size to pack and if one of those big bottles breaks you lose a gallon. Divided up into multiple 750's that are packed well in a box and packing material made for shipping bottles (which is why I always save every box I have from liquor shipped to me from internet stores) there would be far less chance of losing all of it and a good chance you get it all home intact.

I brought 13 bottles home with me in my checked luggage on my last overseas trip with no breakage (and carried one duty free bottle with me on the plane which nearly broke when it fell out of the overhead bin!). Every one was well packed and every one survived. I was more worried about theft than breakage.

humchan2k
12-14-2012, 16:10
As long as the cap seals well and you leave it closed, once the air in the bottle has reacted with the bourbon, there should be very little change (if any) over several years time.

If you find that you have too much, I would be happy to "share the load." Like Samwise and Frodo taking the Ring to Mordor.

Trey, I greatly appreciate your willingness to help me carry this heavy burden :)

I'm going to get a case of screw top 750mls, and rebottle it in OR, create custom "sourced by" labels and slowly doll it out over the next couple of years. I will take that pic of me drinkin' straight from the gallon bottle tho!

squire
12-14-2012, 17:38
Bottles can break in flight, I've seen it happen, but that's not the problem. Once the gallon is divided up no matter how tightly you twist down the tops on the 750s they are now legally open containers and shipping an open container of flammable liquid on an airline causes some serious problems not the least of which is seizure. You may, however, legally transport them locked in the trunk of your vehicle, just don't have one within reach.

Kalessin
12-17-2012, 14:41
Well, you could always rent a car and drive instead of flying. There are motorcyclists who relish the coast-to-coast FL-CA ride in 50 hours or less (http://www.ironbutt.com)!

Not cheap, but what a classic roadtrip opportunity! Some things are just that important in life!