Earlier this week there was a post in a Whisky related Facebook group asking what’s the best way to preserve open whisky bottles.
Now, this is not the first time this question arise in this group, nor in other forums and groups – people tend to care for their whisky bottles and want to preserve the original whisky flavours and prevent (or vastly reduce) oxidation that spoils the whisky taste.
So I thought to summarizing the popular options in a post as public service announcement, but my friend Michael Bendavid is quick and did summarize it in a comment on the post.
I asked him for permissions to re-publish it here and he agreed, so thanks a lot Michael for summarizing it up and to Chris Miles, Torben Ernlund, Matt Spinozzi and Shai Gilboa for their input and answers to this question.
Whisky preserving techniques
When a bottle gets to a level less than 2/3 full, and you don’t intend to finish it off within a year, action must be taken to ensure your whisky’s longevity.
There are three main methods for doing so, each with benefits and disadvantages:
1. Decanting to smaller bottles
Advantage: No evaporation, no artificial means used to protect the spirit.
Disadvantage: Multitude of bottles in varying sizes needed and by decanting you’re actually aerating the whisky, thus changing it and possibly hastening its demise. In addition, it hurts the whisky bar display as whisky isn’t stored in the original bottles as the distillery/bottler has meant to.
2. Using in-bottle vacuum inducing devices
Advantage: Readily available method (wine shops have the pump and caps), reusable caps, can be used many times on the same bottle, cause little hassle and there is evidence from within our community of the effectiveness of this method.
Disadvantage: Low pressure may effect spirits, seals must be pumped occasionally to maintain vacuum long term. It doesn’t create full vacuum, so there is probably still some O2 left in the bottle and oxidation will continue (albeit in much slower rate).
3. Using a gas based spray (Argon/Nitrogen)
Advantage: Clearly protects and preserves the whisky in an effective way. There seems to be no dispute about effectiveness and safety of using this measure.
Disadvantage: High cost and low availability (at least outside of US/UK – it’s not available in Israel at all for example) coupled with mavens who dub this method “an overkill”.
So what should you do? frankly – pick any of the methods above you feel comfortable with, and easier for you to maintain – it’s all about personal matter. Although, for real expensive bottles (which are usually kept open for many years) , I do recommend to use the gas based solution – you don’t really want it to get ‘spoiled’. Slainte!