Knowing how to properly store single malt whisky is essential if you collect single malts. Keeping unopened bottles of single malt whisky for years means storing whisky at the right temperature and out of direct sunlight. Failure to store single malt whisky properly can result in your investment becoming part of the ‘angel’s share’.
Investing in rare and collectible single malt whisky has become among whisky connoisseurs. Buying rare single malts gives collectors a chance to indulge in their passion and see a return on their investment (hopefully!). Of course, if the single malt Scotch whisky fails to increase in value, you can always open the whisky and enjoy it yourself.
Where should you store your prized bottles of single malt? What is the best way to look after expensive whisky to keep it from losing its flavour?
In this article, you will find out how to store Scotch whisky and see a nice return on your investment.
Ideal conditions to store Scotch whisky
The best conditions if you want to keep bottles of single malt as an investment would be in a cellar. A cellar has the optimal temperature and levels of humidity to look after your expensive bottles of Scotch.
Keeping single malt whisky bottles in a cellar also keeps them away from direct sunlight and changes in room temperature.
However, very few of us have a cellar to store Scotch whisky. So, what are the best options for storing whisky at home? Here are a few factors to consider if you can’t keep single malts in a cellar.
Optimal temperature for storing single malt whisky
The best temperature if you want to keep bottles of single malt as good as the day you bought them is between 15 °C to 20 °C.
So, in general, room temperature should be good enough to look after your investment. Depending on where you live, this could be an issue in the summertime if your room tends to get too warm.
It is also good to remember that heat can affect the taste of whisky. Warmth causes more volatile aromas that can change the taste of whisky over time.
Also, you shouldn’t store Scotch whisky in the fridge because it can affect its flavour. Keeping your bottle of Scotch in the fridge won’t help to preserve the delicate spirit longer. Even if you have an opened bottle of whisky, you should never refrigerate your whisky as it won’t taste as good.
However, some people say that, if you can put vodka in the freezer, why can’t you put whisky in the freezer? Again, this has to do with taste. Vodka doesn’t have much of a taste to it and freezing the spirit gives it a better and more palatable texture.
Don’t store Scotch whisky on its side
If you want to store Scotch whisky for many years as an investment, you should never store single malts on their side.
The reason that you should store whisky bottle upright is that the alcohol content tends to react with the cork. In time, the cork can start to disintegrate and air can seep into the bottle. Also, the cork could react with the whisky causing it to lose all its delicate characteristics.
However, you also need to make sure that the cork doesn’t dry out or you could be faced with the same problem when you store single malt whisky. So, every month or so, gently turn your bottle of single malt over to moisten the cork and prevent it from drying out.
So, unlike wine, you shouldn’t keep bottles of whisky on their side but store them vertically.
Store single malt whisky away from direct sunlight
Another thing to keep in mind if you want to store single malt whisky properly is to avoid direct sunlight. Sunlight affects whisky and can alter its flavour and delicate characteristics.
You may wonder then, why do whisky shops display expensive bottles of Scotch whisky in their shop window directly in the sun? More often than not, these are dummy bottle provided by the distillery for display purposes. Also, shops that keep real bottles of whisky in direct sunlight in their display window probably have UV filters on the glass.
FAQ on Storing Scotch Whisky Properly
You may have other questions about storing bottles of single malt Scotch whisky.
Will my single malt mature the longer I keep it?
Unfortunately, unlike wine, single malt whisky doesn’t age in the bottle. The aging process stops when the golden spirit is removed from the cask for bottling. So, a 15-year old bottle of Glenfiddich will remain a 15-year old single malt, even if you keep it for 50 years.
How should a store an opened bottle of single malt whisky?
An opened bottle of Scotch has a surprisingly long shelf life and should remain most of its character for a year or so.
However, it’s good to remember that the less amount of whisky in the bottle, the more chance that the taste will change over time. This is because oxidation occurs and can affect the whisky’s flavour.
You should follow the same principles for storing an unopened bottle of single malt. This means the following:
- Store an opened bottle of whisky at room temperature and don’t put your single malt in the fridge.
- Keep the whisky away from direct sunlight.
- Store bottles of Scotch vertical and not on their side.
Is it possible to age whisky?
As already mentioned, keeping your single malt whisky for many years at room temperature won’t affect its age. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to age whisky.
Mini barrels that contain one or 2 litres of spirit are now becoming very popular. Here you can barrel age your whisky and allow it to take on different flavours. However, this is not a good idea to do with expensive bottles of single malt.
Try experimenting with some cheaper blended whisky to see how you can change and improve its flavour in a mini oak barrel.
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Picture credit: Ben Smith under CC BY-SA 2.0