Clicky

Does Whiskey Age in the Bottle? Answered (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on November 23, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Some whiskey lovers might have thought about keeping a bottle of whiskey for extra years to age it longer. While this is a viable idea, you have to confirm this first.

Will a ten-year-old whiskey become a 20-year-old bottle if you let it sit in your liquor cabinet for another ten years?

Does whiskey age in the bottle and get a different flavor? Keep reading to find out.

Will Whiskey Age (Or Not) In A Bottle?

liquor collection on a shelves

Whiskey will not age in its glass bottle like a fine wine.

A whiskey that’s aged for seven years will always carry a 7-year age statement, even if you leave it on the cabinet for 20 years. 

Age statements are the amount of time the spirit spent on the wood cask or barrel.

But the flavor of the whiskey may change–not because of how long you store it– but due to oxidation. 

Why Whiskey Doesn’t Age After Being Bottled

As soon as the whiskey enters the bottle, there’ll be no interactions, ending the whiskey-making process.  

Unlike a wine bottle, whiskey has a mix of ethyl alcohol and water. Its character comes from the fermented grain mash and the cask, where the aging process occurs. 

The type of grain and the casks used in aging whiskey provide unique spices.

Once it is bottled and distilled, the aging process stops, and the whiskey won’t age anymore.

What Happens To It After It’s Bottled?

bottling whiskey

After bottling, whiskey stops aging and retains the flavor and character influenced by the cask used.

It is sealed in the bottle to prevent oxidation, which may alter the natural flavors of the spirit.  

They are prone to harsh elements, like prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and air, temperature fluctuations, mishandling, and more. 

Does Whiskey Improve With Age In A Bottle? 

Whiskey will never improve with age in a bottle. The only thing that can improve whiskey’s flavor is the wood cask. 

“The thing that has the biggest weight on what your whiskey is going to taste and smell and drink like is the barrel it’s in.”

— Lew Bryson, Author/Journalist

The longer the whiskeys mature in the barrels, the more solid and flavorful they can get. Many distilleries utilize casks used in other alcohol crafting processes to impart additional flavor. 

Does It Age When Unopened?

pouring whisky on a glass

Whiskey, whether bourbon, rye whiskey, or Scotch whisky, wouldn’t age in the bottle, unlike wine, even unopened.  

The maturation process occurs while the spirit is still in the charred oak barrels. 

The taste profile of a Scotch whisky remains the same even if it’s unopened. And the spirit only gets its flavor from the wood sugars it matures in.

Does It Degrade After Bottling?

Whiskey doesn’t degrade after bottling. However, it will be prone to degradation once it enters the bottle. It’s not the bottling process that degrades whiskey. 

Mishandling and harsh conditions from air and temperature (warmer climate) are just a few reasons that make the spirit go bad.   

How Long Does Whiskey Stay Good In The Bottle?

pouring whisky on a shot glass

The shelf life of the aged whiskey depends on the way you store it. 

Be it a single malt Scotch whisky [1], bourbon, or a single barrel expression, as long as the bottles are properly stored, they should be good for several years – 10…15…20 years, and so on.

Remember, whiskey bottles must be stored upright in a dark place to retain their natural spices.  

What’s The Longest You Can Age Whiskey? 

There’s no definite time for how long you can age a spirit.

Bourbon and rye expressions are usually aged at 10, 12, 15, or 18 years, but there are older whiskeys like the Teeling 30-year-old single malt drink. 

As for Scotch whisky, single malts are aged for a minimum of three years, and blended whisky expressions are aged for 5, 8, or 12 years.

But an older whiskey can be aged up to 50 years and over. 

Fun Fact: The oldest whisky ever released is the Macallan 81-Year-Old, which comes at a higher price point. Then, it was followed by the Glenlivet 80-Year-Old and Macallan 78-Year-Old. 

FAQs 

What does whiskey’s age statement mean?

The whiskey’s age statement means the time it has spent aging within the wood tanks before it is dumped for bottling.

Does age matter in whiskey?

Age doesn’t matter when it comes to whiskey, as most whiskey drinkers believe. It’s the drinker’s preference that does matter.

But while older whiskeys do not necessarily mean better, age imparts some character that affects the overall expression.

Does whiskey age in the barrel?

Yes, whiskey ages in the barrel, typically made from oak casks – charred or toasted. The charring adds a charcoal coating that helps remove unwanted flavors.

Key Takeaways 

Whiskey, once it leaves the casks, the final product will never age more, even if you store it for 10 or 20 more years, unlike wine.

The bottle only retains the liquor’s flavor from the cask or wood, keeping it from too much exposure to air and temperature. 

But remember, how you store whiskey can affect its taste profile and how long it can stay good– whether opened or unopened.    

Reference:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/scotch-whisky

Leave a Comment