flatbedjon wrote:Not only will the whiskey keep just fine but, I've found that it actually gets better AFTER it's been opened. About 15 years ago when I opened a 1953 Schenley and tried it, I was a little disappointed at first. A month later I tried a little more and what a difference! Ever since I've always given my vintage whiskeys a little time to breath like you might do for a wine. Something happens when they are released that only improves the flavors. Try it and see for yourself........John
I would somewhat disagree with this statement. I do agree that often a bottle tastes better once it's been opened. However, once it's been opened for a while - and depending upon how much liquid is left in the bottle, spirits can and do oxidize and can "go off" fairly rapidly depending upon how much exposure to air they've had.
I have learned this lesson the hard way more than a few times. Saving those last few ounces of a kick ass malt have occasionally resulted in a dull, bland spirit left in the bottle. I also think it's good to remember this when you happen to find that 1970s Ardbeg in a bar for $60 / ounce: how much is left in the bottle, when was it opened, etc... are worth asking before you plop down your hard earned cash.
My general rule of thumb (and of course there are exceptions!) is that a bottle is pretty safe until it's about half full. Below that, the clock is ticking - you just don't know how fast it's going!
If it's an exceptional malt, then I would state that when it gets below 50%, I will definitely get it dealt with, within 3-4 months - 6 months max. Once it's down to a few ounces, the whisky may only have a month - or perhaps even only weeks before it can possibly be negatively affected by oxidation
. If it's a great bottle, but one that's reasonably available, then I'm much less concerned about this and really don't care... But, I have had several bottles - which were down to a few ounces - that definitely had the life sucked out of them after sitting on the shelves for a few years. Are they bad? No, not necessarily. however, upon tasting them next to a recently opened bottle, there can be a noticeable degradation in the quality of the spirit.
Again, some whiskies seem to do OK with oxidization, but you do risk ending up with a limp, lifeless spirit that's a shadow of its former self.
Some things that can help this:
Minimize the number of times the bottle is opened (and hence experiences air changes).
Rebottle the remaining spirit in a smaller bottle to reduce the air / spirit ratio.
Some people use wine saver gases or for less expensive (or frequently drank!) whisky, use an inverted pouring stand.
Just drink the damn stuff while it's still good!
Hope that helps a bit - cheers!