I’m exceedingly grateful when whisky samples wind their way to me. Usually it is via friends and family. Occasionally it comes from the #whiskyfabric of fellow whisky explorers not otherwise known live and in person.
However, I’ve learned the storage container makes a BIG difference in keeping the quality of the sample… particularly if you don’t plan to try it immediately.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned the hard way, in hopes it will help you avoid whisky tragedies!!
- Never, ever store in a bottle that held anything pungent. Best is to use fresh, clean, new bottles.
- Where that isn’t possible, use an empty whisky miniature bottle that has been thoroughly cleaned and properly dried.
Avoid jars with rubber…
- My aunt and uncle generously shared samples in properly cleaned baby food jars. It seemed like a good idea however as these were large, we transferred them into mini jam jars.
- Do yourself a favour – don’t ever do what we did!! Something terrible happened… in Mumbai conditions, the rubber odours ooze into the whisky, rust spots even appeared on the lids?!
- Any whisky in such sub-optimal storage used to transport should be either consumed as soon as you reach your destination or immediately transferred.
Tops matter too!
- Just as you don’t want contamination from rubber, plastic too can give off unwanted aromas, negatively impacting your lovely whisky… I even found one type that seemed promising, but the plastic had a tendency to crack!?
- Similarly those lovely old mini whisky bottles you think you can re-use? Be vigilant! One tiny sign of rust in the cap and it is a “no go”!!!
If buying new, which is best for you?
- Yes… I know buying new bottles can be surprisingly expensive, but get the right style and it is completely worth it!
- I’ve been reasonably happy with three types of bottles for storing samples…
- 60 ml – If you plan to share with 2-3 folks, this is a good bet. Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula tends to opt for these…
- 50 ml – The standard whisky miniature style works well to share with 1 or 2 others… There is a reason it has a narrow long top – it helps reduce that pesky oxidation.
- 20 ml – If just for you to sniff, sip and savour solo or you have limited space, you’d be surprised how much you can get from these bottles. All of our Nordic samples came in such a tiny but powerful packages.
All labels/pens are not created equally!
- So you you’ve put the whisky in its new container, then what?? Sticky labels can be a handy way to slap on a new moniker… however be sure it is of a higher quality as I’ve had a few disintegrate if a bit of liquid accidentally comes on it.
- As for the pen? Permanent marker please! Or at a minimum, a permanent pen. I’ve had a few mystery malts thanks to the ink blurring beyond comprehension.
- Finally, while I’ve been focused on smaller samples, what about those large 700 ml or 1 L bottles? Do you leave them alone or do something?
- The trick with storing whisky is to minimize the oxidation, so keep a few nice empty whisky bottles in various smaller sizes like 180 ml, 200 ml, 375 ml, 500 ml…
- Depending on how long you plan to store, it can be smart to transfer your whisky into the clean old bottle that best fits the quantity remaining… and don’t forget to label the bottle!
Naturally I’m sure most folks will say the simplest solution is just to drink the stuff! You aren’t wrong.
Another solution for a freshly opened bottle is to take some of those sample bottles, fill, label and share, then either use a vacu vin or transfer the balance into a smaller bottle if you plan to store for some time.
Because as good as it is to get whisky, it is nice to give back too!
Interested in more random whisky tips? Check out a few here:
- 3 tasting order tips
- 10 tips for whisky hosting
- Crumbling cork capers
- Taste Test
- Tasting Tip for Asia – How to cool your whisky!
- Whisky Live Survival Guide!
- Whisky nosing
- Whisky palate cleansers or pleasers?
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