View Full Version : Shelf Life?

12-26-2005, 14:17
I have received some new bottles of Bourbon for Christmas. I have some neighbors coming over tonight to sample some and I was wondering. Once opened, how long should I expect the condition of the Bourbon to remain good? In all likely hood some of these bottles will last 6 months to a year, is that time period significant for an open bottle? I also have a food saver system that has cork attachments so that I can “reseal” the bottle. Is that over kill or if the bottle is going to be stored for a while is it worth it?
Most of the bottles I have open now are corks, and they all seem to have a snug fit, what would be considered the maximum amount of time to have an unfinished bottle sitting around? Thanks for your help.

12-26-2005, 15:56
what would be considered the maximum amount of time to have an unfinished bottle sitting around?


12-26-2005, 17:33
Guess we can taste them all then. Thankyou for the assist.

12-27-2005, 07:59
Rob is right on. I usually don't have anything on the bar for more than 6-8 months but occasionally something will get sampled, moved to the back and forgotten. Years later it's still fine. Fancy saver systems are a waste for whisky. I do find many bottles actually open up a bit after being left on the bar for a while (a week, a month?). The only caveat is once it gets too low, I would finish it off. Leaving an inch in the bottle seems to give it too much room in the bottle. Many here will rebottle into smaller containers at that point. I just drink it.


12-27-2005, 08:15
Thanks for the information. I actually wanted the food saver for my BBQ and smoking, but watching the video a saw they have bottle attachment as well, so I was curious. I will just have to follow your lead and as the bottle gets low, into the glass it will go. Thanks.

12-27-2005, 09:37
The food saver, bottle savers, vacuvin are all a waste of money for spirits. The rubber seal always gets looser with time. I tested it with wine and was GREATLY disappointed.

What I have had success with (and it makes sense) is a wine preserver spray can. You spray a layer of gas on top of your spirit and cork ir right away. The gas that lays on the spirit won't let the spirit oxidize and makes it "last longer". Try it out, it's worked great for me for wines, tequila, scotch, bourbon, etc.

http://www.wineenthusiast.com/E/details....56ADA4&AfID=GGL (http://www.wineenthusiast.com/E/details.asp?Ep=An/4294967260+4294967259//A/424&uid=67FDEACF%2D922B%2D42AB%2D8575%2DF0B58E56ADA4&AfID=GGL)

12-28-2005, 23:08
We've discussed this before; at least with respect to the Wellers.

This is an area where I disagree with most of what I've heard; both here and elsewhere. I went to a lecture on Scotch where the speaker said that an unopened bottle will last indefinitely, but an opened bottle will last 12 to 18 months.

I believe that when a lot of air gets in the bottle the whiskey at first becomes harsh. Then after a period of some years (I don't know how many) it becomes undrinkable. I had some Lagavulin that my dad had for some years, and it was very bad. I think Weller becomes harsh very quickly. And I always decant 1.75 liter bottles when the whiskey will fit into a 750 ml bottle.

I am so sensitive to oxidation that I have changed my whole approach to collecting. I keep my collection small. I drink what I have, and then buy something new.

12-29-2005, 00:39
I'm not sure about the whole keeping the collection small, but I do keep few(maybe 4 most of the time, 6 during times I expect plenty of help) open. I seem to be very conscience of oxidation also(I think this comes from spending years as a bartender in a fairly wine intensive restaurant).

My belief on the open bottle policy comes from a time when I decided that I shouldn't open anymore bottles until I finish off all I had open. It took me well over 2 years to clean them out, the bottle that suffered the most was open only a year or so but was-when I opened it-the most wonderful bourbon I'd ever had, WT 12(split label) but when it got finished, I would have easily traded out for equal amounts of Beam Black.

If you really don't want to worry about open bottles going bad, but still want to drink them(and cost is no object) there is a company that makes temperature controlled nitrogen sealed dispensing systems for wine that should be easily adaptable to serving bourbon. They're the most beautiful things-all of the bottles are lined up behind a glass front and hooked into a dispensing system that pushes the wine(bourbon) out by using pressurized nitrogen. Sure, they're super expensive, and they cost more the more bottles you want them to dispense, but the whiskey should stay good 5-7x longer than an opened and non-nitrogen sealed bottle. Would I buy one knowing that it would prevent me from being able to buy a huge amount of whiskey, no, but if money was not a factor...no, but that doesn't mean that it's not a good idea, just means that I wouldn't, but it would be a great idea for a restaurant that wanted to specialize in whiskey or some of the members who like to have lots(all?) of their bottles open and want to enjoy then for a long, long time.

12-29-2005, 06:39
I probably have a less sensitive palate than most on this board, but I have never noticed whisky to go bad even with bottles open for 5 years or so. I have 30 bottles at any one time, and since I am not, relatively speaking, a heavy drinker (12-14 bottles a year), some of my bottles stay open for quite a while.

12-29-2005, 08:12
I have at least one bottle (Remy Martin XO) that has been open for 15 1/2 years. I will taste it again and report back, this afternoon, but I have never noticed any problem.


12-29-2005, 11:04
I don't think that most whiskey will go bad. My anecdotal evidence for this is a bottle of SMSW that my father-in-law has: a 12-year-old Ladyburn. Now, that distillery has been closed for decades, so that bottle is at LEAST 15 years old, and probably older than that, and I strongly suspect it has been opened for most if not all that time. This bottle could easily have been opened twenty years ago. There's about half a bottle left at this point. I had a bit on Monday, and while not the best Scotch I've ever had, it was pretty good---certainly still drinkable. Meanwhile, in my own collection I have a bunch of bottles that have been opened for up to three years or so now and I have not noticed any deterioration in any of them.

P.S. For any Scotch fans curious about the Ladyburn, which is a very rare item nowadays, it was light and surprisingly fruity---not grassy like other Lowlanders I'm more familiar with. It had a sort of citrusy quality to it.

12-29-2005, 15:08
I am sipping the XO, right now. It is as perfect as any spitit I have ever tasted. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/yum.gif Like raisins and honey.

If oxidation is a problem for spirits, it must be something I am not sensitive to.


01-02-2006, 20:26
Click on the attachment, there's a PDF file...

A response about open bottles from Parker http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif