Open Bottle Storage: Intro

Open Bottle Storage:

Discovering Optimal Method to Preserve an Open Bottle of Grain Whisky

Conclusion

Here are the important conclusions we drew from this study:

  • Store all whisky bottles upright.
  • Eliminating heat and light are the 2 most important factors for preserving whisky.
  • Reducing headspace is third most import factor in presering whisky.
  • If you do not plan to finish a freshly opened bottle of whisky in 1-2 months, or it is a special bottle that you want to preserve as perfectly as possible, or you are concerned about the quality of the cork, you should:
    • After opening and taking initial pours, immediately decant the whisky into 2 oz amber glass bottles with polycone caps and filling the bottles completely. We chose 60 ml bottles because they are small enough to easily finish at one time, yet not too small to make decanting difficult.
    • If you do not have enough whisky left in the end to completely fill the last 2 oz bottle, find a bottle small enough that the remaining whisky would completely fill or drink the remaining bit.
    • Make sure the bottles and caps you plan to use are clean.
    • Label decanted bottles immediately.
    • Keep all bottles in a dark temperature controlled environment.
  • If you plan to drink a freshly cracked bottle of whisky regularly enough that the bottle will be completely finished in under 1 or 2 months follow this guide:
    • Store bottle upright.
    • Make sure the cork is in excellent condition.
    • Store bottle in a dark temperature controlled environment.
  • What works for wine does not mean it will work for whisky.
    • "Private Preserve" changes the taste of whisky more than if you did not use it.
    • Creating an external vacuum seal might help but may hurt so do not use vacuum sealing to preserve whisky until more research is done.
  • Letting a whisky breath does not change the taste of the whisky, or at least not the way we think. The whisky stays exactly the same, but I believe our palate changes slightly. This change of our palate is the cause for what we occasionally perceive as a change in taste of the whisky.
  • ABV did not change at all, or at least not enough that I could measure with my alcohol meter. Even when a bottle was stored on a shelf expose to indirect sunlight and occasionally moderate heat.


Keep in mind when we speak about the differences in taste or score, it is the difference between a specimen and the control, and another specimen and the control. Not the direct difference between the two specimens. Also we are looking at the amount of change compared to a freshly opened bottle regardless if that change makes the whisky tasting better or worse. A great method is the one that is as close to identical to the control as possible.


Results

Here is the summarized results from the complete study.

Specimen Description Total Average Nose Average Palate Average Finish Average
750 ml bottle, 150 ml fill, exposed to indirect sunlight 5.38 5.13 5.88 5.13
4 oz bottle, 1 oz fill, cool, dark, vacuum seal 4.54 3.75 5.75 4.13
750 ml bottle, 150 ml fill, cool dark place, Private Preserve 3.67 3.75 3.75 3.5
750 ml bottle, 150 ml fill, cool dark place, Private Preserve, vacuum seal 3.5 3 3.75 3.75
750 ml bottle, 150 ml fill, cool dark place, vacuum seal 2.88 2.5 3.38 2.75
4 oz bottle, 3 oz fill, cool dark place 2.5 1.75 3 2.75
4 oz bottle, 3 oz fill, cool dark place, vacuum seal 2.08 1.5 2.25 2.5
4 oz bottle, 4 oz fill, cool dark place 2 1.25 2.38 2.38
750 ml bottle, 150 ml fill, cool dark place 1.96 2 2.13 1.75
750 ml bottle, 1 oz pours/month, cool dark place 1.92 1 2.25 2.5
4 oz bottle, 2 oz fill, cool dark place, vacuum seal 1.75 1.13 2.13 2
750 ml bottle, 325 ml fill, displaced full with marbles, cool dark place, vacuum seal 1.58 1.5 1.5 1.75
4 oz bottle, 4 oz fill, cool dark place, vacuum seal 1.56 0.94 2 1.75
2 oz bottle, 2 oz fill, cool dark place, vacuum seal 1.5 1 1.75 1.75
750 ml bottle, 325 ml fill, cool dark place 1.13 1.25 1.25 0.88
double old fashioned glass, 6 oz fill, cool dark place, exposed to open air 90 min 0.67 0.75 0.5 0.75