How to Store Whisky

by Daniel Corlett

It doesn’t matter whether you see your whisky collection as a hobby or an investment, it’s important that you correctly store the bottles, whether opened or not, as you want to ensure that you keep them in the best possible condition. 

Do you know the best ways to store your whisky and how long you have to enjoy the bottle once it’s been opened? We guide you through everything you need to know about storing your whisky. 

How to store your whisky bottles

Storing your whisky correctly is essential for helping to maintain the quality of the golden nectar and ensure a delicious flavour over time. 

Here are the guidelines you need to follow: 

1. Avoid sunlight 

Keeping whisky bottles in direct sunlight will cause the product to deteriorate at a quicker rate. This is because the UV rays from sunlight can break down the compounds in whisky, which can lead to the development of off-flavours. 

Try to ensure that your whisky bottles are kept away from windows or other sources of direct sunlight. 

2. Store upright 

Keep your whisky bottles upright, as opposed to lying them on their side. If you lie them down prolonged contact with the cap or cork can interfere with the seal and you risk leaks or evaporation. 

3. Avoid heat

Ensure your whisky bottles are kepy away from heat, like ovens or stoves. Having them near heat will accelerate the ageing process and could potentially alter the flavour of your whisky. 

4. Keep a consistent temperature

If the temperature of your whisky is altered frequently it can impact the flavour development and the ageing process of the whisky. It’s best to store your whisky in a place that maintains a consistent cool temperature. 

How long can whisky be kept? 

If you follow our recommendations for storing your whisky correctly, it can be kept for a very long time, if the bottle is unopened. 

Once whisky has been bottled it won’t mature or change significantly, which makes it different from wine. 

As long as the seal isn’t broken and it’s stored in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and high temperatures, you can keep your whisky bottle indefinitely without the quality being compromised. 

However, once a whisky bottle has been opened, the shelf life can vary on a number of factors. Such things like the type of bottle top, how much whisky remains in the bottle and the storage conditions of the whisky all impact how long you can keep your whisky whilst open. 

If your bottle of whisky has a at least half of the bottle remaining, and you store it correctly following the advice above, you can typically keep it for several years without there being much impact on the quality or flavour of the whisky. If you only have around a quarter of the bottle left, it will deteriorate at a quicker rate due to oxidation. 

Should I keep whisky in the fridge?

No, you should not keep whisky in the fridge, whether the bottle is opened or not. The cold temperature of the fridge will affect both the aroma and the flavour of the whisky. 

What’s more, fluctuating the temperature by storing in the fridge and then removing it to drink it, then returning it, will impact the ageing process of the whisky, as well as the quality of the drink too. 

If it’s personal preference to drink your whisky chilled, then it’s best to serve over ice, or use whisky stones in your glass. This allows you to enjoy your whisky to your taste, without affecting the overall integrity of the product. 

Should you keep whisky in the box? 

Whether you keep your whisky in the original box is a personal choice. In some cases it might be a better choice to keep it in the box, however, it all comes down to you. 

The box may well add another layer of protection for the whisky bottle, shielding it from light and damage. However, some people may prefer to keep their whisky collection on show, displaying the bottle design, the label and the colour of the whisky. 

If you’re a collector of whisky, it might be preferable to store your whisky bottle in the original box and packaging to preserve their collectable status. 

How to store whisky in a decanter 

Using a decanter to store your whisky is a stylish way to display and serve the liquid nectar. However, there are some things you’ll want to keep in mind if you want to store whisky in this way. 

1. Choose a quality decanter 

Pick a decanter that has high-quality, lead-free glass and is specifically designed to store spirits. You’ll also want to ensure that there is a lid or stopper that fits well to ensure there is no chance of oxidation and evaporation. 

2. Prepare the decanter 

Once you’ve bought your quality decanter, you’ll need to wash it and ensure that it’s completely dry before you transfer your whisky to it. 

3. Store decanter out of direct sunlight 

Like your whisky bottles, you’ll need to store your decanter out of direct sunlight as this can degrade the quality of the spirit over time. 

4. Fill accordingly 

Fill the decanter with the amount of whisky you expect to drink in a few week to a couple of months, as you want to minimise the air exposure. Oxidation is going to occur to some degree with whisky that is stored in a decanter, so you want to minimise this by only pouring in smaller amounts of whisky so you can still maintain the quality of the spirit in the original bottle. 

Does whisky go bad?

Whisky won’t go bad like a bottle of wine will, however there are some practises you will want to follow to ensure that preserve the quality, taste and flavour of your whisky over time. 

Whisky if unopened can last indefinitely, however, if you have a bottle that has been opened you’ll want to ensure that you follow the guidelines to storing open whisky. 

When a bottle of whisky has been opening, these are the factors that will affect the quality of the product over time: 

1. Oxidation 

Once you’ve opened the whisky you’ll be exposing it to air, which can lead to oxidation over time. Oxidation can result in subtle changes to the flavour and aroma of the whisky. This is more likely to happen if the bottle hasn’t been tightly sealed shut or if there is only a small amount of whisky remaining in the bottle. 

2. Evaporation 

If you store the bottle of opened whisky in a warm environment, or the bottle isn’t tightly sealed, you may experience some evaporation. Not only will this decrease the volume of the whisky, it could also impact the flavour profile. 

3. Heat and light exposure 

Over time the quality of whisky may be affected by exposure to heat and light. Both of these factors can advance the ageing process and cause deterioration too. 

When it comes to storing your whisky you want to ensure that you’re following the recommended guidelines to ensure that you preserve the quality of your whisky for as long as possible.