Whiskey, unlike wine, does not continue to mature once it is bottled up. However, if you store your bourbon correctly, it can stay more or less unchanged for over one hundred years! As soon as you uncork your bottle, the bourbon will start to slowly oxidize, but you can extend its life by following the tips below.
How to Store Bourbon
It’s widely accepted that higher proof bourbons keep better than lower proof bourbons. Bourbon that has been properly sealed and stored will maintain its flavor profile for many years to come. The high alcohol content aims to indefinitely preserve it by freezing its esters, congeners and volatile alcohols in delayed animation.
How to Store Sealed Bottles
When storing a sealed bottle of bourbon keep in mind its two enemies: light and temperature. Wide temperature fluctuations and light will create a chemical reaction in erratic compounds that will impact the flavor profile of your bourbon. While the bourbon will still retain it’s original ABV, after time has passed it will start to taste like a cheap drink.
To store your bourbon, it’s best to keep the bottle away from direct sunlight and in a location that doesn’t experience a wide flux in temperature.
Here are some examples:
- Wine cellar (not on its side)
- Air-conditioned closet
You will need to store your bourbon in an upright position, in a cool and low-light environment.
How to Store Open Bottles
A bottle of bourbon that has been properly stored, with more than two-thirds remaining, will typically maintain its flavor profile for roughly one year. Once that time frame has passed, oxidation occurs which will alter the flavor of the bourbon. The more headspace in your bottle of bourbon, the more oxidation occurs. For instance, if three-fourths of the bottle is empty then you are likely to notice the quality of the bourbon has degraded.
Once it reaches the one-third mark, you can share it amongst friends or store it in smaller glass bottles with polyseal caps. These seal better than the traditional caps.
Aside from whether the bottle has been opened or not, the rules for storing an open bottle of bourbon are the same.