How To Store Whiskey

Whisky bottles on a shelf


Storing whiskey correctly is essential for preserving the spirit’s aroma, color and flavor.

It is particularly important if you have spent a lot of money on your whiskey collection or you have some rare whiskeys that you want to protect.

In this post, I’ll share several tips for storing whiskey the right way. These tips will ensure that your whiskey will last for a long time and taste fantastic when you open it.

Don’t expose whiskey to direct sunlight

Exposure to sunlight can damage a whiskey very quickly. The ultraviolet rays in sunlight can break down the compounds in a bottle of whiskey, changing how the whiskey smells and tastes.

A whiskey that has been exposed to the UV light for a long time will become “skunked”, developing harsh flavors like rubber and rotten fruit.

Another reason to keep whiskey away from the sun is that the whiskey will begin to evaporate on warm days. Always keep your whiskey in a cupboard, cellar, pantry or another location that doesn’t receive sunlight.

Store whiskey bottles vertically

Whiskey store vertically behind bars

If you have been inside of a wine cellar before, you would have noticed that most wine bottles are stored laying down.

This is to keep the cork moist, prevent it from drying up and cracking, which could let air into the bottle.

However, whiskey should never be stored laying down.

The reason is that whiskey has a higher concentration of alcohol which, if left constantly in contact with the cork, would cause the cork to disintegrate.

Once the cork disintegrates, the whiskey would be exposed to more oxygen which would cause it to oxidize faster, impacting its flavor and aroma more rapidly.

Another reason to always place bottles of whiskey in a standing position is that the cork can color the flavor of the whiskey.

Keep the cork moist

Keeping the bottle in a vertical position will take care of most of our cork-related concerns. The only other issue you might face is the cork becoming too dry and becoming brittle.

A brittle cork can split when you open the bottle, falling into the whiskey and affecting its flavor.

Fortunately, it is simple to keep the cork moist, just flip your whiskey bottles upside down for a few seconds once every month.

Keep whiskey at a constant temperature

Whiskey in a temperature control unit

Whiskey experts suggest that the ideal temperature for whiskey storage is between 15 to 20 degrees Celsius (59 to 68 Fahrenheit).

However, whiskey can tolerate slightly warmer and cooler temperates fairly well — it is not as picky as wine when it comes to temperature.

The most important factor is to keep your whiskey at a fairly constant temperature.

If the temperature is fluctuating a lot, more oxygen will be allowed to enter the bottle, impacting the character of the spirit.

Because temperature fluctuations are so dangerous to whiskey, care should be taken to keep your whiskey collection away from on-off heat sources like heaters, ovens, water boilers, computers, amplifiers, televisions, and so on.

A cellar is a great place to store whisky because it is cool, and the temperature doesn’t fluctuate heavily.

Don’t decant your whiskey

If you enjoy drinking wine and port, you probably know how much using a decanter or carafe can improve the drink’s flavor and aroma.

This is not true for whiskey, which gains no benefit from being exposed to the air. If anything, it will simply cause the whiskey to degrade faster.

Transfer whiskey into smaller bottles

As the contents of a whiskey bottle are consumed, the ratio of air to whiskey will continually increase. The more air there is in the bottle, the faster the whiskey will oxidize and lose its character.

To avoid this occurring, you can transfer small amounts of whiskey into smaller bottles. Most whiskey aficionados will start this process when there is about 30% of a bottle left.

Place it in a small container that is filled as close to the top as possible, then cap it with a decanter stopper or screw top.

Never freeze whiskey

Some people mistakenly assume that the freezer is a great place to store whiskey, because it’s cold and dark. While chilling vodka in the freezer is a great idea, it can dramatically dull the flavors of your whiskey.

If you would like a chilled glass of whiskey, add some cold water, use whiskey stones, or add some ice.