As a new whisky drinker that used to think Crown Royal was 'top shelf', it is very exciting to try new whiskeys. They are all so different! So with our limited knowledge we thought that of course alcohol 'never goes bad'!! What fools we were! In our excitement we have each probably bought around 15 scotchs in the last few months, and have only drank a dram or 3 from each. Each one is between $50 and $200, which wasn't a big deal because business is good and if it last forever, why not!
Then I randomly come to find out that whisky does start going bad!
I have a bottle of Macallan 21 thats about 2 years old now and half empty. No wonder when we taste tested it last week and compared it to the other years, it was a bit lack luster .It definitely tasted more complex than the 18/15/12 but it was surprisingly less smooth than the 18. I'm guessing thats from the oxidation.... There goes a $500 bottle!
Anyways, I do realize that it doesn't actually go bad and it's just the taste that gets worse. So in everyone's experience, how big of a difference do you guys say this makes? I realize some of you aficionados can taste the slightest of differences, but how big of a taste difference is there after a half a year or year to someone that isn't an expert. Is it a big deal or nothing to worry about yet? How long can these scotchs sit around open before REALLY noticeably going down in quality.
Lastly, any recommendations on what to do with the Macallan 21, or is it a goner by now?
Thanks for the advice
For example my Macallan 21 thats been open for almost two years and is at half empty, has a more complex taste than the 15 thats fairly new. However from how I remember it, the 15 actually burned a little less and was a little smoother. Is this likely because of the 21's age? I definitely wouldn't say it was garbage either though and still better than many other whiskies I've had (even though it's old). So how much of it is the age and how much of it is that it's just a different scotch (even though both Macallan)
I guess my question is just how much the taste changes. In 6 months (or 12 months or 24 months) is it subtle to the beginner drinker. Or is it a huge difference to the point that you might as well be drinking cheap stuff.
To respond to your question, simply put, the more air that is in contact with the whisky, the more the volatiles that make up the flavours will dissipate. In effect a half full bottle over two years will see a steady erosion of the flavours as they are absorbed into the air. One way to counter this is to go to smaller bottles as jmrl recommends. Trust me when I tell you he really knows what he's talking about, heed his wisdom. I've had the privilege of visiting his shop and he is exceptionally knowledgeable.
A second option is to purchase a canister of "wine preserver" from a wine shop which allows you to insert a layer of heavy inert gas between the alcohol and the air, eliminating the loss of flavour. I have used it for two years on my more enjoyed bottles and they have retained the flavours I recall.
If you want to test it out, (I did so myself a number of years ago with a Connemara CS.) pour out three drams of about a tablespoon each into three different glasses. A Cask Strength will give you the best samples. Cover one with plastic wrap tightly (this is your control sample.), Do the same with the second, but poke some small holes in the film and leave the third open to the air. Come back 24 hours later and taste. There will be a discernible difference. (If you wait longer, say a week, the open glass will taste like bitter flavoured water.)
Once you get below 1/4 of a bottle, you may as well finish it if you don't take steps to preserve the whisky.
Otherwise, storing your whisky in the canisters or boxes in a cool dark location will also help, however, save your corks from empties as sometimes corks will dry out and powder away when you re-open an older bottle. This just happened to one of my Glenfarcli but luckily, I had a replacement.
I will do the test for myself just to see what kind of difference there is. 1 with sran wrap, 1 with wholes in wrap and 1 left open. How would you compare this test to real life, the saran wrap being a few weeks, holes being months and the left open being 1year plus?
Lastly, do you think it's worth it for me to put the Macallan 21 in a smaller bottle or is it a pointless at this point (2 years later)
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