A very commonly asked question from whiskey drinkers is whether or not a whiskey can go off once it has been opened. The answer is both good news and bad news. Technically, whiskey can go bad; however, the good news is that it is extremely unlikely to ever happen! If the whiskey is stored properly, it should remain drinkable for many years. We take a look at why whiskey lasts so long once opened, what happens when it goes bad, and how it should be stored to ensure long life.
What Happens When Whiskey is Opened?
While wine only lasts a couple of days at most once opened, the shelf life of an opened bottle of whiskey is typically at least a year. Changes that happen to whiskey once it has been opened occur fairly slowly. Any changes to a whiskey’s taste and texture will only occur when a bottle has been opened, so storing a closed bottle of whiskey for years in the hopes that it will age and mature will get you nowhere!
When a bottle of whiskey is opened the alcohol will begin to evaporate faster, and over time this will cause the whiskey to feel smoother. As the whiskey is drunk and the bottle becomes emptier, the drink will come into contact with more and more air. This can cause the flavours in the whiskey to change, and typically it will lead to a deterioration of flavour rather than an improvement.
If you have opened bottles of whiskey that you intend to drink within the next six months, then, as long as the whiskey is kept in a well-closed bottle away from light and heat sources, it should remain absolutely fine for drinking, with very little change in quality.
Even if you come back to an opened bottle of whiskey after a couple of years, if it has been stored correctly, it will still be perfectly drinkable and safe; it just may not taste quite as strong and flavourful as it once did. The only ways in which whiskey can go ‘bad’ are if the whiskey’s contact with the air has caused the flavours to become undrinkable or if a contaminant has entered the bottle while it has been open that has altered the flavour or introduced bacteria to the bottle.
How to Store Whiskey
Whiskey should be stored upright in a dark location away from any sunlight. As whiskey corks are designed for multiple uses, unlike the single-use wine corks, they tend to be a little looser, so whiskey bottles should always be stored upright, as they may leak if kept on their side.
If you are looking to store whiskey long-term for collection purposes, then you will likely want to take other factors into consideration to ensure the continued safety of your drink. Whiskey does evaporate, so keeping your bottle in a cooler location away from any heat sources is a great way of reducing the amount of drink you are losing. Likewise, storing bottles in an area with too much humidity can also prove harmful for whiskey collections, as the damp environment of a cellar, for example, may cause the paper labels to go mouldy, which will damage your chances of a higher resale value.
If you are looking to add some more bottles of whiskey to your collection, then we have a wide selection of drinks from around the world, including Irish whiskey and Japanese whisky for sale in the UK!