Proper storage can make all the difference when it comes to enjoying a good glass of whisky or any fine spirit. Nobody wants to sip on a whisky that’s lost its character or been tainted due to storage issues.
In this blog, our experts at Tri Carragh share six simple yet effective tips on storing whisky and other spirits to ensure they stay as delightful as the day you brought them home:
Keep it cool
Maintaining the correct temperature of a spirit is paramount. Store your spirits in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and temperature fluctuations. While refrigeration suits some spirits like vodka and gin, whisky and rum prefer a slightly higher storage temperature to retain their unique characteristics.
Typically, a 15-21°C temperature range is ideal for whisky storage. This allows the spirit to interact with the wood of the barrel or cask, bringing out its complex flavours over time. In contrast, storing whisky at excessively high temperatures can cause it to age too quickly and develop off-putting, bitter notes. Keeping it too cold can suppress its flavours, making it less enjoyable to drink.
Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs when a substance comes into contact with oxygen over time. In terms of spirits, oxidation can impact their quality by altering their flavour and aroma. When spirits are exposed to air due to improper storage or a partially empty bottle, oxygen can interact with the compounds in the spirit. This interaction can lead to a mellowing or flattening of the spirit’s flavours, making it less vibrant and complex. It’s particularly noticeable in spirits like whisky, where subtle nuances are key to their appeal.
If you’re finding that your spirits are oxidating, this could be because your bottle caps or corks are not securely fastened, and therefore, air is entering. If you’ve enjoyed a portion of your spirit, consider transferring it to a smaller bottle to minimise the air-to-liquid ratio in the original bottle.
Upright or lying down?
Understanding the optimal position for storage is vital. With an average of 390 searches a month for the term ‘alcohol storage’¹, it’s clear that this is an essential factor in maintaining spirit quality. Our experts highlight that when it comes to whisky and rum, storing them upright is a must. This is because these spirits typically have higher alcohol content, which can deteriorate the cork over time if the liquid constantly touches it. An eroded cork can lead to air seeping into the bottle, resulting in oxidisation and flavour degradation.
In terms of wines and some liqueurs, laying them horizontally keeps the cork in contact with the liquid, preventing it from drying out and allowing any potential air leakage. But what about vodka and gin? Well, they’re more versatile in this regard. Depending on your available space and aesthetic preferences, you can store them upright or horizontally. Ultimately, understanding the specific needs of your spirits and their respective cork types will help you maintain their quality for the long haul.
Avoid strong odours
Spirits, especially whisky, are highly susceptible to absorbing odours from their surroundings. Storing them away from strong-smelling substances such as spices, cleaning products, and perfumes to preserve their flavours is ideal. Whisky is particularly sensitive to odours due to its porous nature.
During the ageing process, whisky matures in wooden barrels, typically oak barrels. This ageing process contributes to the unique flavours and aromas of the spirit and makes it more susceptible to external influences. The porous wood allows the whisky to interact with the air outside the barrel, which can lead to positive and negative flavour changes. When whisky is exposed to strong odours in its environment, it can easily absorb those scents through its porous structure, potentially altering its intended taste profile.
Think about humidity
Maintaining moderate humidity levels in your storage area is important. Spirits can be sensitive to extreme dryness, which can cause corks to dry out and allow air to seep in. On the other hand, excessive humidity can lead to mould growth on labels and packaging, potentially affecting your collection’s overall presentation and resale value (if selling your collection is something you intend to do).
Aim for a relative humidity level of around 60-70% in your storage space to strike the right balance. This range is generally considered optimal for preventing cork damage, minimising evaporation, and safeguarding the integrity of your spirits for years to come.
Top tip: Consider using a humidity monitor to keep conditions ideal – this will alert you through a notification that humidity levels are too high.
If you’re a spirit enthusiast with an extensive collection, periodically rotating your bottles is recommended. This prevents sediment from settling and helps maintain consistent quality. In terms of exactly how often you rotate your collection, this depends on the spirit. A gentle rotation every few months would be sufficient for whisky and other aged spirits.
With a surge in home entertainment in recent years, many people are building their at-home bar. So, whether you’re an avid spirit collector or just starting out by choosing spirits for your new at-home bar, the guidelines above will enable you to enjoy your whisky and other spirits for years to come.
The do’s and don’ts of alcohol storage
If you ever find yourself uncertain about the dos and don’ts of alcohol storage, fret not! We’ve put together a handy downloadable guide which runs through the best practices of caring for your spirits in the correct way.
Download Here: Tri Carragh Alcohol storage Dos & Don’ts
If you’re a whisky collector and you’re looking for the next bottle to add to your collection, get in touch with our team today to see which of our Tri Carragh bottles would suit you best: https://www.tricarragh.com/
SERanking data for the search term ‘‘alcohol storage’ correct as of August 2023