How to Properly Store Your Whiskey

by Julia Nikolaus
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properly store your whiskey

If you’re a whiskey enthusiast, you likely enjoy many different whiskeys and whiskey styles. It’s not uncommon for whiskey lovers to have several diverse bottles at a time. And others may have many bottles open to experiment with and enjoy. Whether you like your whiskey neat or in a cocktail, know how to store your whiskey is vital. Proper storage is essential to ensure each bottle’s integrity, unique character, taste, and mouthfeel.

It’s fun to share a favorite bottle with as many people as possible so that they can experience the uniqueness of that particular whiskey. With that said, let’s get started with proper whiskey storage tips.

Store Your Whiskey Bottles Upright

The first thing to know is that you should always store your bottles upright. Unlike wine, where it’s recommended you store wine bottles on their side, the alcohol content in whiskey is high enough that it could start to degrade the cork; the cork could even impart unwanted flavors.

Whisky is more durable than wine, so your whisky shouldn’t change in an unsealed bottle. And you want to keep your bottles at room temperature. Extreme heat could cause opened bottles to evaporate, which would surely affect the flavor.

Keep Whiskey Away From Sunlight

As with most things, sunlight can damage your whiskey. Store your whiskey away from windows and sunlight. Even if the bottle has yet to be open, sunlight is the one culprit likely to do the most damage. Some say sunlight can cause the liquors to fade, change the flavor, and even add unwanted flavors. At the very least, UV rays from the sun could cause evaporation.

The safest way to store your whiskey is in a place that is far away from sunlight. Keeping your bottles away from any prolonged light exposure is a good practice. Better to be safe than sorry.

How to Store Open Bottles

Like most whiskey lovers, you probably have at least one open bottle, if not several at a time. Unless you plan on drinking them in a reasonable amount of time, don’t keep too many bottles open at once. Even with proper storage, your whiskey will slowly degrade over time. It’s best only to keep open what you will actively consume within four months, although some believe longer. We’ll talk more about this below.

Oxygen Exposure

While oxygen is an essential part of the distillation process, the whiskey reaches its peak maturity by the time you open your bottle. From this point onward, exposure to oxygen will oxidize and harm your cherished spirits. That process starts from the moment you open the bottle.

store your whiskey

(Photo by William Bout on

Once open, keep the cork in the bottle when you’re not pouring from it. If you plan on drinking that bottle reasonably quickly (within a few months), the cork will keep your whiskey safe. For those special bottles, you may not consume in one to two months, consider decanting the whisky into smaller bottles where there would be less oxygen contact. You can also buy specific devices that replace the oxygen in the bottle with an inert gas to prevent further oxygen damage as you continue to savor that bottle.

How Long Can You Store a Bottle of Whiskey?

Once opened, most recommend consuming that bottle of whiskey within four months to keep it in optimal drinking condition. That said, some believe you can keep a bottle that is open and more than half-full for 1-2 years.

If the bottle is less than half full, the oxygen takes over and lessens its life. For those bottles that are close to empty, your best bet is to consume them quickly, so they taste the way you remember.

Another great idea is to take the almost empty bottles and put them into a decanter or mason jar and create a blend from your leftovers. That is like being your own whiskey maker. Creating your custom blend of whiskey is another way to find enjoyment for your favorite whiskies.

Will Putting Whiskey in the Refrigerator or Freezer Help?

While heat will damage your whiskey, cold temperatures will neither harm nor help your whiskey. Freezing or chilling whiskey will have one significant effect: it will suppress the taste of the whiskey and mask the subtle flavors that you love. If your whisky is chilled, let it get to room temperature, and you’ll find all of the subtleties of that whiskey will come to life. Remember that it’s the layers of depth and unique character that distinguish one whiskey from another. They are all best enjoyed at room temperature.

Whether you’re enjoying your whiskey straight from the bottle or mixing it in a cocktail, proper storage of your whiskey will ensure continued enjoyment. Open your bottles with confidence and drink responsibly!

Nancy Zaffaro

Whiskey barrels at Maker’s Mark in Tennessee (Photo by Nancy Zaffaro)

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-All photos as credited. Cover photo by Thomas Park on

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