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View Full Version : how long is an open bottle of bourbon good for?



dons
04-18-2007, 20:09
just wondering? I know with wine a bottle should be drunk within 24 hours before losing its quality. what is it for bourbon

CrispyCritter
04-18-2007, 20:22
Bourbon will last a long time. Oxidation can have an effect on it, though, and in some cases it's beneficial, other times it isn't. My rule of thumb is that once it's less than half full, it should be given a bit more attention, but it can still last for months. If you're really worried about it, you could always decant it into a 200 or 375 ml bottle.

I made a 40yo single-grain Scotch last for almost a year without decanting it, and the last pour was as superb as the first. My open '06 Stagg has been open since November 18 (hmmm, I ought to have an anniversary pour), and it hasn't shown any sign of deterioration. It's about one-third full or so right now.

TimmyBoston
04-18-2007, 23:43
It should last around 3 years give or take after opening. Unopened, don't even worry about it, it will last a looooooooooooooooooooooooooong time.

Sycamore Tree
04-26-2007, 19:57
I remember I left a 1/4 pint in my metal flask left over from hunting season. And when I got to it again 3 months later, it was filled with limestone rock and empty of whiskey. And the flask wasn't sealed completely tight but it wouldn't leak either. Ruined the flask!

ILLfarmboy
04-26-2007, 20:22
I remember I left a 1/4 pint in my metal flask left over from hunting season. And when I got to it again 3 months later, it was filled with limestone rock and empty of whiskey. And the flask wasn't sealed completely tight but it wouldn't leak either. Ruined the flask!


Had you cut the whiskey with hard water? I don't see how lime (calcium carbonate) or any mineral salts could have made it through the distillation process. besides, don't distilleries use de-ionized water?

cowdery
04-26-2007, 20:22
By "open bottle" people usually mean a partially-consumed bottle, but one with the top sealed by a cork or screw cap. What you're really talking about is open, as in exposed to the air, in this case not entirely, but you say the flask "wasn't sealed completely."

Obviously, I don't know the extent of the partial seal, but whiskey exposed to the air will deteriorate pretty quickly. How fast? An unfinished glass of whiskey, if it doesn't all evaporate, will be undrinkable the next day.

jinenjo
04-26-2007, 22:43
I think it was from a posting of Dougdog, but it generally sounds like a good rule of thumb:

Bourbon - 6 months
Rye - 1 year

I personally haven't done enough experimentation in this area, and my beginner's palette may not discern enough changes. So I tend to keep a limited number of opened bottles for drinking.

However, there's the option of decanting into smaller bottles or using the Preserve gas bottle (which I don't know how long one really lasts, in other words, once sprayed in the bottle I'm not sure if it loses efficacy after a certain amount of time).

wskybnt
04-27-2007, 07:24
I got a bottle of WT tribute that is half drank, and I opened it about 3 years ago. Last time I had it, it seemed fine. I got around 100 open bottles and a lot of them are over a year old. Pappy 20 that is 2 years old, and still taste like the best I ever had...

TnSquire
04-27-2007, 08:35
I think it was from a posting of Dougdog, but it generally sounds like a good rule of thumb:

Bourbon - 6 months
Rye - 1 year


I have bourbon that has been open way more than 6 mos. It is still good.

Old Lamplighter
04-27-2007, 09:41
I remember I left a 1/4 pint in my metal flask left over from hunting season. And when I got to it again 3 months later, it was filled with limestone rock and empty of whiskey........

Perhaps your bourbon and flask were the victims of foul play or mischief on the part of someone. Must have been some good bourbon is all I have to say!

cowdery
04-30-2007, 12:11
Different people have different sensitivities and where one might notice a deterioration, another might not.

The main enemy of whiskey is oxidation. About the only time this affects whiskey in a sealed bottle is when you leave a small amount (less than 25%) in the bottom of a bottle. Even then, from my experience, it takes years to turn. I try to avoid having such a bottle sit around too long and have never, in my experience, had one turn on me. I have tasted bottles that have turned in other circumstances, but I have never had one in my control turn.

The point is, acute sensitivity aside, a well-sealed but only partially full bottle of American straight whiskey will be "good" for at least a year.

Gillman
04-30-2007, 12:17
Oxidation imparts a characterictic, "metallic" taste. Some of the older bottles on the table at Sampler had it, even full ones. It is unmistakeable once you know the taste. It is always hit or miss though.

Gary

nor02lei
04-30-2007, 12:57
My personal experience is that American whiskey is much les sensitive to oxidation than single malt and actually often benefits from it in an early stage.

Leif

cowdery
04-30-2007, 17:53
My personal experience is that American whiskey is much les sensitive to oxidation than single malt and actually often benefits from it in an early stage.

Leif

That's very true and, of course, some oxidation takes place in the barrel. With some of these bottle-aged bourbons, I think they do get a touch of additional oxidation that does benefit them. Hard to tell, though, since when we're drinking a 35-year-old (bottle age) whiskey at the gazebo, there's no way to know exactly what it tasted like when "fresh."

TN Colonel
05-03-2007, 09:18
How long is an open bottle of bourbon good for?

In my house - about a week. :slappin:

ILLfarmboy
05-03-2007, 14:08
Looking back I did notice the last couple inches of a bottle of '93 or '94 Evan Williams Single Barrel did take on an unpleasant bitterness after sitting only a few months. At the time I thought I was just having an off night. I have never experienced anything like that before or since.

Bernhard List
05-03-2007, 14:30
just wondering? I know with wine a bottle should be drunk within 24 hours before losing its quality. what is it for bourbon
I had a Sazerac 18 Years (2004) opened after I bought it and had the last glass 2 weeks ago. It turned out really smooth .... still a pleasure. But who wants to take risks with good bottles?
Bernhard

SippinJim
04-01-2008, 15:17
I keep all my bourbon stored in a cool (not cold) dry place and out of direct light of any kind. I figure it should out live me. (YEAH RIGHT!) :)

cowdery
04-01-2008, 16:51
As you probably imagine, I drink a lot of bourbon. The first time I tasted a bourbon that had been damaged by oxidation was a bottle that sat on a back bar for something like 20 years with a half-inch of whiskey in the bottom of it. In most other cases, it has been something from a decanter or with an otherwise dicey closure. I've also tasted some that was simply very old (e.g., 100 years) that had some damage.

Some people misidentify cork taint as oxidation damage. I've tasted cork taint, usually from old decanters, much more often than oxidation damage.

I've never had a bottle of mine here at home "go bad" from oxidation.

Note too my use of the term "oxidation damage." Oxidation itself is part of the aging process, it's part of what is going on in the barrel. Like every other aspect of aging, oxidation can go too far and the whiskey picks up some off-flavors. An excessive and unpleasant taste of vanilla is what I usually notice.

I just yesterday communicated with a craft distiller who removed a whiskey he made from the barrel, because it had all the wood he wanted, but he let it sit in stainless for 3 years, in part to get additional oxidation.

Different people have different sensitivities, so that's part of it too. I know some people who feel the taste of a whiskey starts to change as soon as they open the bottle.

But, in general, people make WAY too much of the fear of oxidation damage from partially-full bottles. Yes, you should finish off those bottles that have an inch left in the bottom, especially if you haven't because it's something precious that you can't replace and you hate to see it go. Oxidation damage is real and it is a risk when you have a bottle with a lot more air than spirit in it, but it's not as big of a problem as some people seem to fear.

spun_cookie
04-02-2008, 10:22
I've seen this some where before :)

Chuck, Thank you for both replys..

WhiskeyRiver
04-08-2008, 12:32
A couple of hours with good friends.

jburlowski
04-09-2008, 15:36
An unfinished glass of whiskey, if it doesn't all evaporate, will be undrinkable the next day.

I'm amazed that you know this... Did you like leave an unfinished glass?? (horrors!)

The Boozer
02-12-2009, 14:35
By "open bottle" people usually mean a partially-consumed bottle, but one with the top sealed by a cork or screw cap. What you're really talking about is open, as in exposed to the air, in this case not entirely, but you say the flask "wasn't sealed completely."

Obviously, I don't know the extent of the partial seal, but whiskey exposed to the air will deteriorate pretty quickly. How fast? An unfinished glass of whiskey, if it doesn't all evaporate, will be undrinkable the next day.


Want to make a bet!! It made not be as good as the night before but it certainly is drinkable. :grin: Never waste bourbon. It will definitely "wake you in the morning". Usually I have poured myself another glass, which I realy don't need, and end up falling asleep before I get to finish that nightcap.
TJ

Slob
02-12-2009, 14:59
Hooray for thread necromancy. I was getting worried about a few of my bottles. This thread calmed my nerves.