The wine world has been using argon gas for years to preserve an open bottle of wine. It has been proven to work quite well for wine, but it has not been tested for spirits as far as I could find. Even without any research on the matter whisky lovers have taken to using argon to preserve whisky with the thought that: “what works for wine, should work for whisky.” Though pure argon is available, it is not commonly used in the whisky word. For example, the “Coravin” system needs exposed cork in order to work in order for the needle to puncture through to get at wine, however nearly all whiskies that use cork have a wooden top which makes it impossible to use a “Coravin” system. Most people in the whisky world use a product called “Private Preserve.” While most people refer to it as just argon, “Private Preserve” is actually a pure blend of nitrogen (N2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and argon (AR).
To test this, we used three sets of bottles.
Two 750 ml bottles filled with 150 ml of whisky. One scotch, one bourbon. Both bottles were then sprayed with 15 seconds of “Private Preserve.”
Two 750 ml bottles filled with 150 ml of whisky. One scotch, one bourbon. Both bottles were then sprayed with 15 seconds of “Private Preserve.” Then both bottles were vacuum sealed.
Two 750 ml bottles filled with 150 ml of whisky. One scotch, one bourbon.
All bottles were then stored in a dark temperature controlled environment to eliminate other variables.
A Year Later
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.
Our results show that “Private Preserve” does not help. In fact, it creates more change. What works for wine does not necessarily mean it will work for whisky. In every case whisky that used “Private Preserve” scored worse (more change) then whisky that did not. On average whisky scored a very significant -1.63 points for the worse if you used “Private Preserve.” These results took many by surprise. It was so controversial many want to run this test again to make sure. We are pretty convinced that “Private Preserve” is harmful to whisky, but we plan to do this test again to make sure.
The average scores of each set of specimens. (Lower is better.)
Private Preserve, 750ml bottle, 150ml fill, cool dark place