The main problem here is that I'm the only whisky drinker in the household, so keeping a large collection fresh would be too much for my liver.
So, glass beads to the rescue! Some (like http://www.dethus.net/html/wlife/m_wl_st.htm) say that even when using beads, whisky is good for only some months after opening. I have really hard time understanding this, as when a dram is poured and beads are added the amount of oxygen and the time of contact are very minimal.
Do you think that keeping an open bottle good for some years is impossible, no matter what you do? Of course I'm willing to trade the absolutely perfect aroma for long storage time. Perfect enough aroma will do.
What kind of beans would you recommend? What type should be avoided?
Buy two bottles of the same whisky from the same production run.
Put one away in the cupboard and ignore it for (say) 6 or 9 months.
Open the other one and give it the bead treatment. If possible, consume the bottle over a 6 to 9 month period.
Just before you finish the first bottle, open up the second, and compare the two. Only then will you find out how effective the beads have been in preventing oxidation.
http://www.beveragefactory.com/wine/pre ... erve.shtml
http://www.beveragefactory.com/wine/pre ... eper.shtml
"As PRIVATE PRESERVE has continued to grow, Scott has continued his endeavors in assisting customers. With careful and meticulous research, he has found that Private Preserve is well suited to the preservation of wine, port, sherry, single malts, single batch bourbons, old Cognac, sake, ultra-fine tequila, and in the kitchen, fine cooking oils and vinegars."
So they claim to preserve whisky. But they also claim to preserve practically everything, which kind of sounds fishy... On the other hand, it's basic chemistry.
I might actually do some kind of test. Something like comparing unopened, argon preserved, beads preserved and not-preserved bottles after 9 months of now-and-then sipping. Small (0,35l?) bottles of Laphroaig might be good choice. I believe they have quite identical proportions to real ones. And they would make the experiment only half that expensive...
Has someone done something like this? If not, it might be worth doing...
akallio wrote:So they claim to preserve whisky. But they also claim to preserve practically everything, which kind of sounds fishy... On the other hand, it's basic chemistry
Exactly. If Argon gas displaces Oxygen then virtually anything that oxidises as the result of being exposed to Oxygen should not do so in the presence of Argon.
Argon works. We used it for a restaurant in 1988 to preserve 300.00 - 800.00 bottles of Chateau margaux, Latour, bordeaux, etc.
Wine is a lot more fragile than whisky. A bottle of wine can go bad 2 weeks from being opened if not stored at the right temperature.
Ditch the glass beads
There are at least four different kinds of "spoilage factors": oxidation, interaction with container, chemical reactions and bacteria. Argon effectively blocks oxygen, there is very little interaction between glass and whisky and whisky is stable stuff and does not go bad by itself. And if some bacteria manage to live in whisky, they really deserve to live...
Is my reasoning sound? Does someone really know chemistry?
Yep, I'll ditch the bead business and go with the gas...
Interesting question. Until recently I never though that an open bottle of whiskey could 'spoil'. On other threads I have heard people say that being open could improve a whiskey. Others worried about open bottles degrading a bit. I think the book Appreciating Whisky, which I have on order and will receive in the next day or two takes the later point of view. I remember reading that on line somewhere but can't find it again, so don't quote me on that.
I am sure that Argon would be very effective. I also like the glass bead idea though if I were to try it I would want to be very careful that the beads were very clean and not touch them while putting them in the bottle.
I do wonder if anyone has tried the open bottle vs. unopened bottle test with a bottle that had received no special treatment, but had just sat there with a finger or two in the bottom?
Anyone have a bottle on the back of the shelf that has just a bit in it? One that has been open who knows how long? Getting another bottle from the same bottling might prove difficult though. Oh well, just a thought.
I do have several bottles of Teacher's. I think I will set an unopened bottle aside with one with just a bit in it. I must tape a note on them so I will remember what it is all about.
Ed wrote:I do wonder if anyone has tried the open bottle vs. unopened bottle test with a bottle that had received no special treatment, but had just sat there with a finger or two in the bottom?
Ed, we've all done a little informal "research" on this matter. Just go into a bar that doesn't sell much single malt whisky and look for a bottle on the shelf with an inch or so left in it. When you've made a large enough sample (statistical sample, that is), you'll find that many of these have lost a hell of a lot of zip, flavorwise. In fact, I sometimes make my choice in a bar based on which bottle is the fullest. Still no guarantee, I suppose, but the odds are better. Of course, evaporation will be more of an issue in a bar than at your home, so to be fair, you might want to look for bottles that are closed when not being poured, rather than having pourers on them.
I remember visiting the Lochside Hotel in Bowmore some years ago and noting that they had several drams on the menu at prices of £200 or more--I think one was £500. I could see that several of these bottles were down to a finger or two, and you can only imagine how long they'd been sitting there, given the price. Whether these drams were ever worth that price is arguable, but most certainly anyone who bought those last few drops was not getting what he was paying for. Then again, the rich German or Japanese tourist who eventually does buy a round of the stuff to impress his friends probably gets what he deserves. I think if I owned a pub, I'd date the bottles when they were opened, and after a certain amount of time, mark them down a bit--probably the opposite of what the Lochside does with their rare malts, but I don't want that last finger sitting there for months, no matter what it is, nitrogen or no. Then again, maybe I'd just drink it.
Given that I've noticed that some bottles have improved some after opening, I think I would be inclined to hold off on the nitrogen treatment until the bottle had been open a while, anyway. And I wonder if it's possible that a whisky with absolutely no exposure to oxygen might go sort of dead, anyway...but that's just idle speculation.
C_I, Mr TattieHeid, thank you both for your informative replies. I think C_I's suggestion to finish up the bottle is the most sensible course. I think is says somewhere in Hesiod's Works and Days with regard to wine, "When you open an amphora of wine drink up. When you reach the middle drink more temperately, but when to start getting to the bottom finish it off." Or words to that effect. Wise man that Hesiod.
To be honest, I don't think that my tastes are quite educated enough to be bothered by any slight degeneration of the whiskey that is likely to take place over a period of a few months. I do have quite a few bottles open now. I have been a bit of a kid in a candy store the last several weeks having bought more than 20 bottles since late December. I have had at least a dram from most of them. I have been drinking a dram of this then a dram of that each evening. Not many with only a finger or two left...
Mr TattieHeid, your practical bar testing is very convincing. I think I will take your advice to date my bottles, I know that you were referring to owning a pub, but as I have so many open bottles I should take this step.
Well, I have begun to calm down. I shall concentrate on one bottle a night for a while. In part I was running a nightly tasting, comparing and judging the whiskeys I had bought. And I shall firmly resist the temptation to 'save' the last little bit of that special bottle of Old Whachamacallit.
And I will do my test with the Teacher's opened and unopened bottles.
I got a bottle of Ardbeg 10yo and could only manage 1/5 bottle at every gathering/event. so on average this bottle had about 5-6 openings over a period of a month to 5 weeks. HALFWAY through the bottle, it was NOT the same bottle. Unquestionable. towards the end it was just spirit and not the "ambrose" that floors you when you open a NEW one.
I can't believe the bottling industry or Scotch industry has nothing to help us with this. Maybe we should all go for more oily peaty smoky brands? but i figure at $45 per bottle, that bottle should have some technology with it.
It works. The whisky will keep quite well that way for a very long time. Keep the bottles stored away in the dark, away from any direct source of light helps too.
It may look funny pouring a dram of expensive Lagavullin out of a pint-size screw-top bottle that formerly held cheap vodka, but it's better than pouring a dram of flat-tasting whisky from a 1/3 full 750 bottle that's been oxidizing its flavor away for a year.
There's science behind this: basic chemistry says that oxygen and ultraviolet light exposure will disintegrate complicated organic molecules. Seal your good whiskys away from light and air and you'll help them last longer in storage.
Just save those old mouthwash bottles for your private stash that you'll drink by yourself when nobody else is watching
I believe in England, it is common practice to decant out your whisky into these ornate glass bottles. But i have seen them with (shock! gasp!) GLASS lids (using the friction of the ground glass surface of the pestle like lid to make a seal).
1Malt wrote:It may look funny pouring a dram of expensive Lagavullin out of a pint-size screw-top bottle that formerly held cheap vodka, but it's better than pouring a dram of flat-tasting whisky from a 1/3 full 750 bottle that's been oxidizing its flavor away for a year.
Couldn't agree more. I always maintain a stockpile of smaller bottles to utilize for transfering the depleted contents of larger bottles into. Plus, this sort of glassware comes in handy for my 'home-blended' malt whiskies...
Ed wrote: Anyone have a bottle on the back of the shelf that has just a bit in it? One that has been open who knows how long? Getting another bottle from the same bottling might prove difficult though. Oh well, just a thought.
I did the test in december with two bottles of bowmore 12yo. One was brand new and unopened and the other one was about a year old with 1 inch left in it. That last one had been opened quite often, without caring too much about a possible oxydation.
When I did the test, I was with a friend who is also a big whisky enthousiast. We both didn't find much diffrences. Of course, the old one was a little bit milder (probably due to alcohol evaporation) but the flavours were the same fo both bottles.
That being said, I still have my old 12yo bowmore with less than a inch in it (for further tests) and the oter one has more than Â¾ in it.
I'll let you know my verdict.
Collector57 wrote:I have to say I'm n ot surprised at that result.
I think oxidation is over-hyped.
I'm agree. People care too much about that. I'm convinced that evaporation plays a much more predominant role. Some more volatile flavours may go away faster than some others, but I wouldn't assume that it is because of oxidation.
However, I'm a wine drinker as well and I can notice a huge difference after a bottle has been opened for 1 day or more compared to what it was like when just opened. It is never as good as it was freshly opened (after about 30 to 60 minutes after opened), even when a vacuvin is used. I have never tried argon gas though.
charlano wrote:Collector57 wrote:I have to say I'm n ot surprised at that result.
I think oxidation is over-hyped.
Me too, though I would still like to read the outcome of an experiment around this subject. I am even tempted to do a Decant vs Marbles vs. Argon vs. doing nothing over a year period myself to put it to bed.
Collector57 wrote:...oxidation is over-hyped.
I have many bottles that have been open a very long time (>5 years) and only one or two have tasted "flat" or wrong in any way....
I can't deny what I feel. The "top note" of a bottle's whisky is GONE after you consume the first fraction of that bottle. I ahve noted this in a Balvenie 15 as well. If you had a bottle AFTER 5 years on a shelf and claim nothing changed "in any way whatsoever", I mean that sounds extreme! If u don't mind sharing, what brand/type of scotch was it (to discern between the smokier oilier varieties or the cleaner light varieties).
Wine is infamous for "bottle shock" and "well traveled" is a common adjective applied to wines. But at 45% v/v, the whisky is maybe much more VOLATILE. (I personally don't like wine as much as i do malt).
Maybe some perfume industry specialist can also enlighten us?
Kiers wrote: I can't deny what I feel. The "top note" of a bottle's whisky is GONE after you consume the first fraction of that bottle.
While I agree that a whisky changes after its initial opening/exposure, I've always found this change to be positive, as though it opens up and the flavor is not as tightly wound. I've never noticed any further change or deterioration. There's nothing better than trying a new whisky - except trying it the second time!
PoppaMitch wrote:[...]I've always found this change to be positive, as though it opens up and the flavor is not as tightly wound. I've never noticed any further change or deterioration. There's nothing better than trying a new whisky - except trying it the second time!
I have also noticed that. At first I tought it was just me. When I open a brand new bottle, it is ofter harsher the first time. Then after a couple of days, it gets better and stabilizes. It was the case for the new Bowmore. It is why I have kept some drops in the old one to do the test again with the new bottle opened for some weeks.
However, undeniably there are two factions: both seem to agree the whisky changes (the same bottle compared to itself) :
some describe the change as less desirable (eg myself)
some describe it as "improvement" "less harsh" "less tightly wound".
This topic reminds me of the concept of saying you can't add ANY water when drinking whisky, as if there wasn't any water to begin with. Well, how else did it get to 40%/43% ABV?
The point is - if you're worried about how it changes after the first opening, imagine how it has changed BEFORE it even made it to the bottle.
The only solution - drink from the source! Literally, right from the cask. I personally plan on setting up a tent on the Balvenie grounds... someday.
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