Keeping open Whisky bottles

So, you open a bottle of whisky, drink a little now and then, and years later you wonder if it still tastes the same?

Here are my empiric notes:

Deanston 12: One of the bottles is opened since perhaps 2 years, and has been almost empty for months. Head to head, initially, I slightly prefer the old bottle on the nose. But tasting, going back and forth, it is the same whisky.

Famous Grouse: I have a plastic bottle of Famous Grouse with very little left in it. It has probably been open for 10 years. It actually tastes significantly worse – more burning and chemical – than a fresh bottle.

Lagavulin 1984: This bottle has been opened for almost 20 years and there is not much left. When it was newly opened I compared it to a standard Lagavulin 16. Then my experience was that 1984 and 16YO was very similar, but 1984 was a little extra. Today I opened a new Lagavulin 16 and compared to the 1984. The 1984 is much softer, I guess the ABV is lower, and both aroma and taste has a clear jerusalem artichoke element to it. My conclusion is that 1984 is definitely changed, not necessarily for the better, but it is not much worse either. It is still enjoyable (some people would probably prefer it for being softer), it is still a Lagavulin, but it is not exactly the same.

Glenmorangie 10: One bottle has been opened for perhaps 20 years and one is quite recently opened. On the nose, the young one has more of bourbon- and vanilla sweetness, while the old one has more synthetic candy character. The young one is soft in flavour and the old one is rather acrid. Well, the old one still has quality (compared it to a Chivas Regal 12) but it has degenerated a bit (unless Glenmorangie produced in 2000 was rather different from today).

Longrow: One bottle has been open a few years, now with very little left, the other one is just opened for the occation. Color is the same. The new bottle has a more peated aroma, the old bottle is more subtle. Same is true for taste. The difference is very marginal. In the end I am not quite sure there is any real difference, but it seems plausible that the old bottle lost a percent or two, got a bit softer, and lost a little peat.

Jura Superstition: One bottle has been open several years, last months on a sample bottle. The other has been unopened for a few years, opening today. Same color. The old one has an interesting aroma, both sligthly peated and slightly sherry/raisins. The new one, I can’t say they are much different, perhaps the young one is a bit fruitier and the old one a bit mor oily. I taste the old one, it is a bit peated first but that goes away and it finishes nicely. I don’t understand why I usually don’t like this whisky. I taste the young one, perhaps I get the feeling that it has sligthly higher ABV, a bit less soft. This is the same thing.

Springbank 18: one is a sample from a few years ago, and the other is a new sample. Both are 46%, similar color, perhaps the older one is slightly darker. Very similar aroma as well, some peat, a bit leather and oil, a bit raw. The old sample smells a bit more soft and mellow, the new sample a bit more sherry. Or not, the more I smell back and forth in different order, the more they resemble each other. I taste both, and now I think it both tastes and smells like the same whisky. I will pour the new smaller sample into the old slightly larger bottle.

Pampero Anniversario (Rum): One bottle is opened probably 15 years ago, the cork went bad and half to content was move to another bottle, where it has been standing almost empty for many years. The other bottle is a year old and opened today. I think it is important to note that the original product may have changed over the years not the least because of the tragic development in Venezuela. I find the old bottle more sweet, thick, and soft. The new bottle is a bit sharper. The difference is not very big, but I would have been happier if the new bottled tasted exactly like the old.

  1. The real problem of half full whisky bottles is geography. An example: if the bottle is located in Stockholm, it is far too rarely shared with friends and family in Gothenburg and thus tends to become exceedingly old before being fully consumed!

  2. Yeah that sucks! And even worse, my bottles from Stockholm still remain opened, but that will change soon!

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