Whisky cork crumbling capers!

A funny thing happened during a recent whisky and cigars evening, featuring only ‘adult’ whiskies.

All four bottles were older than 21 years. Most were stored for several years before our sampling.

All were closed. And yet as each was opened, the same challenge occurred…

The cork cracked and crumbled.

Every single one? Yup that’s all four whiskies!

Then last night, I pulled my trusty old open bottle of Ardbeg Uigeadail. Attempted to pull out the cork and…? Was rewarded with disintegrated cork bits!

Earlier during our Whisky ladies cask strength tasting, we went to open the Abelour A’bunadh. And the cork? You guessed it! Crumbled completely with the top cracking clean apart!

Until these experiences, in all my years of whisky tasting, it only happened with a Glenfarclas 105 that sat open in my whisky cabinet far too long!

Is this a new dirty secret of the whisky industry?

Or is Mumbai particularly harsh on cork?

Or are we storing whisky ‘wrong’… leading to such issues?

Crumbling Cork Capers

Proper, crumbled, cracked vs healthy cork

Lew Bryson in Whisky Advocate complains:

Even if the cork’s not tainted, I’ve encountered a disturbing number of crumbling corks lately, some in new bottles. Pull off the plastic wrap, twist the cork topper, and kluhbup…you’ve got the topper and about a centimeter of crumbling cork in your hand, and the rest of it is still in the neck (if you’re lucky and it’s not crumbled into the whiskey).

Do I have the definitive answer on why this seems to increasingly be an issue? No.

However it does indeed happen with whiskies stored upright for several years. And yes – upright is exactly how you should store your whisky 99% of the time!

Is there a solution? Hmm…

There are at least suggestions…

  1. Regularly ‘turn’ your whisky (as in weekly) to lightly wet the cork (Whisky Informative)
  2. If you are less rigorous and didn’t keep turning your whisky, for a week before you plan to open the bottle, store it on its side so that it moistens the cork, reducing the risk of it cracking or crumbling (anonymous expert!)

Any other suggestions or insights?

Surely I am not alone in encountering cork crumbling consequences from long storage of whiskies….

Oh and PS?

If your cork DOES crumble, it is time to immediately consume or decant after straining. Trust me, bits of cork in whisky is a recipe to ruin a good dram.

Others grumbling about cork issues:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

7 thoughts on “Whisky cork crumbling capers!

  1. I have encountered this problem with “new” bottles that have languished on store shelves for too long. You will never see it with any of the run of the mill single malts because they are popular, but in, say, a small town shop that has had a bottle of Bunnahabhain for 5+ years, it is fairly common. The rarer/more expensive the whisky, the more likely from standard bottle ship with a clientele that doesn’t stray from the weekly known quantity. But, I have managed to save them all, and keep all my stoppers anyway so that I can A. Replace disintegrated corks, or B. Use them as crafty cabinet pulls.


  2. Help! I have been given a georgeous “curling stone” ornamental whisky bottle but the cork is starting to disintegrate. The top is a ceramic plug with the cork around it. Any suggestions as to how I replace it? I really want toy fill it with my hubby’s fav and give it to him.
    Thanks for any advice received.


    • Hi Helen, I’m no expert here… only idea may be to find a similar sized cork, delicately ‘carve’ the space needed for it to fit snuggly around the ceramic top. Or lose the original top and simply substitute with a different top. Good luck!


      • Thanks, I can’t lose the top as it is the handle of the curling stone.

        I will have a go at carving and let you know how it works


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.