The only thing better than buying a nice bottle of whiskey is buying two nice bottles of whiskey—one to drink now and one to lay down for a rainy day. As whiskey grows in popularity, it has become increasingly important to properly store your bottles. Whether you eventually open or sell your treasures, preserving the boxes, labels and, most importantly, liquid in the bottle is crucial. These are seven tips for keeping your whiskey bottles in tip-top shape.
1. Keep Them Cool
The first and perhaps most important tip to maintaining your collection is to control the environment in which they’re stored. Bottles should be kept in a cool space, with a stable, non-extreme temperature. Fluctuating temps can cause the liquid in the bottle to expand, eventually damaging the cork and stopper, while humidity works on the outer surface, damaging the labels and boxes.
2. Avoid Sunlight
Alongside extreme temperatures, direct sunlight can do a number on your whiskey. Enough of it over a long period of time will degrade the flavors, throwing off the delicate balance of your precious whiskey. Plus, sunlight affects the temperature, which can destabilize the spirit. Dark and cool spaces are optimal.
3. Keep Them Upright
We’ve all been there: You’re excited to open that special bottle, you peel off the plastic and lift of the cork, and it crumbles and breaks off. Keeping the cork immersed in a high-ABV spirit will make it disintegrate. This situation is easily averted by keeping your bottles upright in storage. Wine can be stored horizontally. Whiskey and other spirits cannot.
4. Care for the Cork
Even though your whiskey should stand at attention, it’s a good idea to keep the corks moist. Tilt your bottles horizontally two to three times a year so that the liquid soaks the cork, then restore the bottles to their upright position. This method keeps the cork “fresh” and oxidation at a minimum.
5. Open with Caution
Once opened, whiskey in the bottle will oxidize faster, and flavor compounds will slowly change and grow dull. Finishing off a bottle of whiskey within two months is best, so bare that in mind when opening sealed bottles. Calculate your general consumption, and you’ll have an estimate of how many bottles you should have open at a time.
6. Get an Insurance Policy
Prices for super-rare whiskey have been known to fetch six- and seven-digit prices at auction. That kind of investment obviously requires protection. Insurance companies like AIG can set you up with a policy that will protect your collection from theft and catastrophe.
7. Drink Up
Working in the whiskey auction world, I see many bottles go unopened. Of course, it’s not easy to open bottles that cost thousands of dollars, but it’s important to open and sample some bottles, while collecting the rarer, pricier ones. Distillers and blenders produced the liquid believing it would one day be enjoyed. If you’re simply in it to invest and profit, you’re already missing out on the fun, colorful stories and drams the whiskey world has to offer. Investing in whiskey should be fun. After all, you can’t drink stocks or cryptocurrency.