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  1. #1
    Novice
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    Question: Shelf life of opened bourbon

    I've only recently delved into the wonderful world of bourbon, so I hope that some of you veterans don't mind my extremely basic question (and I promise that I tried the search function first):

    How long after a bottle of bourbon is opened does it noticeably depreciate in quality? I ask because there are some bourbons that I've noticed can be found at a significantly better per/ml price if I buy a litre or 1.75 as opposed to smaller quantities. However, I'm currently afraid to do so after years of drinking wine and seeing a bottle noticeably depreciate in as little as 24 hours.

    Tangentially, any information that you have on the ideal storage of opened/unopened bourbon would be appreciated, past upright in a cool, dark place.

    And my apologies if this information is somewhere obvious and I simply missed it. If that's the case, feel free to just link me to a pinned topic without another word.

    Edit: I noticed a few related threads at the bottom of this one. However, I want to make sure that it's clear that I'm not asking how long it will take the bourbon to go bad (i.e. become dangerous). I'm asking how long until the taste changes *at all*.
    Last edited by Joshjrn; 07-09-2008 at 14:50.

  2. #2
    Disciple
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    Jul 2006
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    Austin, Texas
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    1,606

    Re: Question: Shelf life of opened bourbon

    Yes, there are some other threads that have discussed this issue. I don't know where they are either....too lazy to look.

    YMMV, on the topic of open shelf life. One thing I can tell you...is that most bars that I have seen, use open pour spouts. That means there is fresh air touching the liquid at all times. Doesn't seem to affect it at a high rate.

    That said....I have had a bottle of IW Harper open since before my membership here and it still drinks great. Have had lots of others open for extended periods and have not noticed any issues at this time.

    I know that others have had bad experiences, though.
    ______________________________

    Jeff Mo.

  3. #3
    Virtuoso
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
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    1,135

    Re: Question: Shelf life of opened bourbon

    Spirits last much, much longer than wine once opened. An opened bottle can last years.

    There are people who argue that once the bottle is less than half full, it will start to degrade and should be consumed within a few months. The theory is that because of the amount of air in the bottle, it will oxidize. I've never noticed this in any of my bottles, but who knows?

  4. #4
    Connoisseur
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    Jul 2005
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    New Jersey
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    Re: Question: Shelf life of opened bourbon

    I have had no issues with any of my bottles that are MORE than 1/4 full. I do sense some over oxidation in bottles that I let sit at 1/4 or less for extended periods of time. With that said, I have many bottles open for years with no issues. When I get a bottle down to 1/4 I try to finish it off as quickly as possible so it wont over oxidize. JM2C

  5. #5
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    Baton Rouge, LA
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    Re: Question: Shelf life of opened bourbon

    Good stuff, everyone. Thank you for the quick and thorough answers.

  6. #6
    Connoisseur
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    Mar 2006
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    on the outskirts of life
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    Re: Question: Shelf life of opened bourbon

    I saw this mentioned here several times in the past and after reading the threads I began to think a lot about this and wonder about if some of my bottles might be going bad. Hell, I actually worried about a few of them. After some time I stopped caring, I have had enough bottles taste excellent when I first opened them only to find they were still good but not nearly as good the next day and vice versa. I'm sure oxidation does affect the taste of the whiskey after some time but I don't think it's really something you have to worry about. I had about 3/4 - 1" of WTRR101 that I saved for over a year after the last one disappeared from the shelves around here and when I tasted it the flavor was nothing like I remembered. A few months later I found some more and when I opened one it too didn't taste like I remembered it tasting when I bought it regularly but, rather, more like or almost identical to the one I had left sitting with so little in it for all that time. Then again it's all subjective and I don't really consider myself so sharp when it comes to tasting either so, as already stated in this thread, YMMV! :]
    /\../\

    "I've had eighteen straight whiskies, I think that's the record . . ." - Dylan Thomas

  7. #7
    Virtuoso
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    Re: Question: Shelf life of opened bourbon

    I suspect one could use the readily available wine saver gases to put a blanket of nitrogen/CO2 on the remaining bourbon if oxidation is a concern.
    "The most futile and disastrous day seems well spent when it is reviewed through the blue, fragrant smoke of a Havana Cigar"

  8. #8
    Virtuoso
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    Jul 2006
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    Harrison Township, MI
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    Re: Question: Shelf life of opened bourbon

    Just do an advance search "Title only" and type in open. Or you can check out this thread. I remember reading this when I joined and was interested because I have some bottles that have been open for years and I have not really noticed any issues. I also keep most of my whiskey in the basement of the house which stays cooler that the main floor.

    Cheers!

    Tony
    "So long as the presence of death lurks with anyone who goes through the simple act of swallowing, I will make mine whiskey"

  9. #9
    Administrator in exile
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Posts
    3,904

    Re: Question: Shelf life of opened bourbon

    Typically, a tightly-sealed, properly-stored bottle of bourbon will last for years, though I am coming around to the idea that it will change somewhat in the bottle.

    Recently however I had a bottle of Old Pogue that went south really quickly. I would say it had been open for about 3 months. At first it tasted fine, but by the last pour, it had taken on a stale/chemically taste and smell. Even Leslie thought is was bad. Can't explain it.

    P.S. I should mention that I have had several bottles of Old Pogue in the past that were perfectly fine, tasty bottles of bourbon.
    Last edited by jeff; 07-13-2008 at 08:39. Reason: Edited to clarify.
    Simplicity is the essence of universality - MK Ghandi

  10. #10
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    Re: Question: Shelf life of opened bourbon

    Thanks for the redirect, Tony. And thank you to all of you that have posted. You've certainly put my mind more at ease.

 

 

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