View Full Version : Two Storage Questions

11-12-2004, 10:05
I was reading the other thread on storage, and I have two specific questions. I would like to get people's input on them.

1) In the other thread Chuck states, "Store them upright, especially if they are cork-stoppered." The George Dickel website at www.dickel.com/faq.html (http://www.dickel.com/faq.html) talks about cork leakage. While it is not entirely clear what their overall recommendation is, they do make this statement: "Anything with a cork closure should be turned on its side and stay that way until use." At a recent tasting/lecture I asked the speaker about the Dickel statement. He said that whiskey contained to much alcohol to lay on its side; that the alcohol would eat through the cork. So he agrees with Chuck. Am I misreading the Dickel FAQ? Can anyone add more to this issue?

2) I have heard it said that a bottle of whiskey should be consumed from 12 to 18 months after it has been opened. The reason given is that oxidation can ruin the whiskey after that time. I once tasted a bottle of Lagavulin that had been sitting around half empty for some number of years, and it was horrible.

I've been told that liquor stores sell vacuum pumps that the wine drinkers use to take the air out of the bottle. This has been recommended for whiskey. Is anybody here using a vacuum pump to preserve bottles that they plan to have around for ahwile?

11-12-2004, 10:38
I am by no means an authority on this subject, but here are some commonly-accepted answers as I understand them:

1. Any high-proof liquor should not be stored on its side, as the alochol will cause the cork to deteriorate. The only beverage that should be kept on its side is wine, to keep the cork from drying out.

2. That may be an accurate statement, but the key is the air to whiskey ratio. If you open a bottle and have one pour, then close it up for 2 years, it will probably be fine. If you leave two fingers in the bottom of the bottle and let it sit for two years, the remaining whiskey will probably taste like Rosanne Barr's armpit.

11-12-2004, 13:47
wrbriggs is right, though I can't vouch for anything involving Ms. Barr's armpits. Dickel is wrong. Some dumb copywriter just extrapolated from wine advice, not realizing that whiskey is a different animal. Cork closures suck, especially for whiskey, but producers use them because consumers like them.

The think they're classy.

I'm right, they're wrong. Do not store whiskey on its side.

As for oxidation, it's not a problem after 12 to 18 months, more like 12 to 18 years. Okay, not quite that long, but wrbriggs is right about that too. Don't leave two inches in the bottom of the bottle for ten years, but a full or mostly full bottle will last more or less forever. If you intend to keep a bottle unopened for a long time, you might want to get this film (someone else will remember what it's called) to make a better seal but, really, despite my signature below (which is meant to be ironic), whiskey does keep extremely well.

11-12-2004, 16:16
Chuck and wrbriggs are right: store whiskey bottles upright. The Dickel site is just wrong. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif

As for the wine vacuum system (something like "Vac-u-vin"), it is also a bad idea that gets suggested every once in awhile by wine folks. Sucking out air also sucks out some of the wonderful volatile aroma compounds that make the whiskey worth bothering with in the first place. Is it enough to matter? Who knows? But why mess with something that can only hurt the whiskey? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/skep.gif

To save some whiskey from a regular size bottle, decant into a smaller bottle. Those little quarter-bottles for wine (187 mL) are glass, with metal screw caps. Perfect size and no problem with plastic bottles or plastic caps. If you use plastic bottles, make sure they are characterized for whiskey storage. Personally, I wouldn’t use plastic for storage past a few weeks. Parafilm can be used to improve sealing for both corked bottles and screw-capped ones. It is a standard chem lab staple, like stretchy, wax Saran wrap. Don’t use the sometimes proposed idea of adding clean glass marbles to the whiskey bottle to reduce air volume in the bottle. Way too f#$%*&g goofy! Also, those “inert” blanketing gas mixtures for wines are not for whiskey. You don’t want carbon dioxide (who wants carbonated whiskey?!) and nitrogen isn’t dense enough. Xenon would be great, but is far too expensive. Krypton next best, still too expensive. Argon is OK, but most folks can’t get it. Overall, best thing to do is make sure bottles don’t linger when they are less than quarter full or so. Thgis is where friends can help! Cheers, Ed V.

11-12-2004, 16:43
I agree with all this.

However, I like my corks to be moist. I shake the bottles periodically, to moisten lightly the corks, "season" them as it were. This ensures a good seal (the corks swell from the liquid) but there is not enough contact between whisky and cork to hurt the spirits. Yet when you extract the cork, there is a satisfying moist pop.


11-12-2004, 17:07
If you leave two fingers in the bottom of the bottle and let it sit for two years, the remaining whiskey will probably taste like Rosanne Barr's armpit.

I like the idea Ed introduced about transferring to a smaller bottle...but if you're really worried about airspace you can also sterilize some glass marbles and add them to your bottle as you deplete the contents.

11-12-2004, 19:09
It's not my idea to use the small wine bottles, some people have been doing it for years. But the marbles idea has lots of downsides, including glass chips somewhere down the line and what would happen if someone took a tug from the jug? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/falling.gif Good idea in theory, but probably ugly in practice ... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/skep.gif
I was in the store today and saw all these little wine bottles. Paid no attention to their contents, just wondered how they would look with good whiskey in them. Heh heh! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif Cheers, Ed V.

11-12-2004, 20:25
The one time I do lay down a whiskey/bourbon bottle is for a couple days before I open a cork-closed one that has been upright for awhile. I don't know whether it helps or not, but it makes me feel better to think I wetted the cork thoroughly before trying to open it.
Of course, I always make sure it's not leaking first before I leave it laying down even for a little while.

11-13-2004, 05:56
I never ever store any whiskey on its side. I did this one time on the way back from the liquor store I laid it down on the back seat of my car and my Dickel leaked

11-13-2004, 06:02
and my Dickel leaked

Comments Pepcycle?

11-13-2004, 07:05
and my Dickel leaked

You should probably see a doctor about that...

Hedmans Brorsa
11-13-2004, 07:08
I usually keep a quite large whiskey stock at home which means that some bottles will be around for several years. My experience is that they fare rather well.

What I have noticed, though, is that the nose can deteriorate very fast, sometimes alarmingly fast (a couple of months). Woodford reserve and Bushmill´s are some of the brands that I can remember suffering from this symptom.

11-13-2004, 09:27
and my Dickel leaked

You should probably see a doctor about that...

Depends . . .