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Does Whiskey Get Better With Age? (2024 Updated)

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Lydia Martin

When you look at the various types of whiskeys, the more expensive ones tend to be older. The 12-year-old whiskey is more costly than a 3-year-old whiskey. But, like wine, does whiskey get better with age? 

In this article, we’ll talk about the various processes that affect the aging process of whiskey and if it’s true that they get better over time.

Does Aging Whiskey Make It Taste Better?

Hibiki Whiksy, Does Whiskey Get Better With Age

Like wine, you would all agree that old whiskies taste better than younger whiskey. However, this is not the sole opinion, as one’s taste is subjective. 

A whiskey matured for more years and even decades will often yield more complex and nuanced flavors than a hypothetical bottle that has been stored for 1 to 2 years.

Studies have shown that around 70% of the whiskey’s spirit comes from the wood, and it takes at least three years for the spirit to start absorbing these flavors. 

But can you age fine whiskey overnight?

What Happens When Whiskey Ages (Before Bottling)

Becomes More Expensive

After aging whiskey, it has less liquid than the youngest whiskey in the cask.

Then, the amount of whiskey available for bottling, making it more scarce, pushing the price up. That’s why old bottle whiskeys cost more. 

Becomes Smoother

Sagamore Whiskey

Our wine experts noted that the wood used in making any whiskey (like Scotch whisky) is stored to break down the rough flavors in the alcohol. It then produces a more refined and smoother taste.

Tastes Better

Barrel’s Wood Type: The wood used in the barrel can have a massive impact on the flavor of the whiskey. Over time, the alcohol absorbs the wood sugars, resulting in the overall whiskey’s taste and flavor. 

Length of Time It’s Aged: The longer the whiskey is stored in casks, the more flavorful it can get. However, this only applies to unbottled whiskeys. When bottled, the alcohol spirits will not mature over time regardless of how long it’s been stored.

Temperature, Air Quality, & Environment’s Humidity: These factors significantly affect the taste of the drink. Different distilleries store their whiskey barrels in a climate-controlled room with no temperature fluctuations. The air quality and humidity are good as it affects the alcohol content. 

Factors That Could Make Whiskey Not Get Better With Age 

Factors That Could Make Whiskey Not Get Better With Age 

Evaporation

Every year, around 2% to 10% of whisky gets evaporated from the barrel due to several factors such as container size, the year of storage, and the facility’s climate. The whisky loses up to 40% of its flavor during maturation. This loss is harrowing for the whiskey drinker, but it also causes the price hike of older whiskeys.

Over Oaking

Oak Barrel

Unlike wine, over oaking can cause the whisky to taste bitter with too much essence from the wood. This is why it’s essential to find the optimal time for each whisky to achieve its best flavor.

For instance, when it comes to aging, the ideal time for bourbon is between five and ten years, while for a Scotch whisky, it’s between 15 and 30 years. Scotland’s lower temperatures cause this difference, slowing down the aging process. 

The process is naturally sped up in hotter climates, allowing whiskey to reach its optimal age much quicker. But is whiskey good for high blood pressure?

How Long Should It Be Aged? 

To be considered a straight whiskey, you must age whisky for at least two years without additives. A type of whiskey known as bourbon must have an ABV of less than 80% and be matured in oak barrels. But, many distilleries age whiskey for about 10 to 20 years. 

Whiskey drinkers must note that aging is a process that can affect the distilled spirits’ spice and appearance. Various factors make a reasonable aging period, such as how it’s distilled. However, it can have a more pronounced relish if matured in a barrel. Find out how long it takes to make whiskey here

How To Measure Its Age?

Whiskey Aging process

A couple of factors come in measuring a whiskey age – how long the whiskey was barreled, how long ago the whiskey was distilled, and determining the optimal aging time of the whiskey. 

Alternatively, if a bottle of whiskey (Scotch) shows an age statement of “15 Years Old,” this means the youngest whisky age in the bottle is at least 15 years old. This applies to all whiskeys. 

Read: Top Whiskeys Under $100

Does Whiskey Age After Being Bottled?

The only way to improve the palate of whiskey is by aging it in the barrel, which is why it becomes better with age. Once it’s bottled, the maturity stops and will not continue to get better with age.

Regardless of how long has passed, a 12-year-old single malt still remains a 12-year-old single malt, and a 15-year-old scotch whiskey you purchased today is far better than a 12-year-old bourbon whiskey your dad bought 30 years ago. 

A properly stored whiskey can last for a long time. However, once it gets old, it will start to deteriorate.

Due to the presence of oxygen, the flavoring of this drink changes caused by a chemical reaction between the oxygen and the whiskey – even with a secured tight cork.

Also, too much light exposure can degrade the whiskey bottle, affecting its content. Find out if whiskey can age in a bottle here

Does It Expire With Age?

Cleveland Whiskey

A properly stored, unopened bottle of whiskey does not expire. It may last indefinitely, but whisky can expire. According to our wine and liquor experts, a bottle of whisky should last for about a year or two if it’s half full. 

However, it should be kept in its original bottle for at least six months if it’s less than a quarter full. The lesser the whiskey in the bottle, the more oxygen exposure occurs. Quicker oxidation [1] occurs when there’s more oxygen in the bottle, making the whisky bad. Find out what sour mash whiskey is here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is whiskey aged in barrels or bottles?

Whiskey is typically aged in a new barrel or cask with different grains. More flavor is drawn from the wood – defining the tastes and aroma. Barrels naturally speed the maturity of this alcohol. After removing it from the cask, the flavor remains until the bottle is opened. But how long can your whiskey stay in a decanter?

Does whiskey need to be aged?

Yes, whiskey needs to be aged. Whiskey and brandy are the most common liquors that require aging, unlike rum and other spirits. For instance, most styles of whisky spend around three years in barrels before they can be preserved in a bottle. 


Is 50-year-old whiskey still good?

Whether a 50-year-old whiskey is still good depends on various factors, including the quality of the whiskey, storage conditions, and personal preferences. In general, well-aged whiskies can develop complex flavors and characteristics over time.

However, it’s crucial to store them properly, away from direct sunlight and in a consistent environment. The taste can vary widely, and some individuals appreciate the rich, mature flavors of older whiskies, while others may prefer younger expressions.

Why does aging whiskey make it better?

Aging whiskey in wooden barrels allows it to interact with the wood, leading to changes in flavor, color, and aroma. Over time, the whiskey extracts compounds from the wood, such as tannins and lignins, contributing to a smoother and more complex taste.

Additionally, the aging process allows the spirit to undergo oxidation, mellowing harsher notes and creating a more balanced and enjoyable drinking experience.

Can you drink 100-year-old whiskey?

In theory, you can drink 100-year-old whiskey if it has been stored properly. However, the quality of the whiskey and its drinkability depend on factors such as the original spirit’s quality, the conditions of storage, and personal taste preferences.

Consulting with experts or conducting thorough research on a specific bottle is advisable before consuming such aged spirits.

Is a 30-year-old bottle of whiskey still good?

A 30-year-old bottle of whiskey can still be good, but like with any aged spirit, it depends on storage conditions and the original quality of the whiskey. Properly stored bottles, away from sunlight and at a consistent temperature, have the potential to offer rich and nuanced flavors.

It’s essential to note that the taste can vary, and personal preferences play a significant role in determining whether a 30-year-old whiskey is enjoyable.

How long is unopened whiskey good for?

Unopened whiskey can last indefinitely if stored in favorable conditions. Factors such as a cool, dark environment and a consistent temperature contribute to the longevity of the spirit.

Unlike wine, whiskey does not mature further in the bottle, so the original quality remains relatively stable.

Does Jack Daniel’s expire?

Jack Daniel’s, like most distilled spirits, does not expire in the same way perishable food does. As long as the bottle remains sealed and is stored properly, the whiskey inside should remain safe to drink for an extended period.

However, over time, especially after opening, the flavor profile of the whiskey may change due to exposure to air. It’s advisable to consume opened bottles within a reasonable time frame to enjoy the whiskey at its best quality. Proper storage in a cool, dark place can help maintain the spirit’s integrity over time.


How can you tell if whiskey has gone bad?

Whiskey does not spoil or go bad in the same way perishable foods do. However, its flavor and quality can be affected by improper storage or extended exposure to air. Signs that whiskey may have degraded include a change in color, a musty or off-putting odor, or a flat and unappealing taste.

If the whiskey shows any of these characteristics, it may be an indication that it has lost some of its original qualities.

Can whiskey be aged too long?

Yes, whiskey can be aged too long, and the optimal aging period varies depending on the type of whiskey and the conditions in which it is stored.

While aging contributes to the development of complex flavors, there comes a point where the wood influence may become overpowering, leading to an unbalanced and overly woody taste.

The sweet spot for aging depends on factors such as the size of the barrel, the climate, and the desired flavor profile.

Is 12-year-old whiskey good?

A 12-year-old whiskey can be excellent, as this age range often allows the spirit to develop a well-balanced and nuanced flavor profile. However, the quality of whiskey is subjective, and personal preferences play a significant role.

Some people prefer younger, more vibrant whiskies, while others appreciate the depth and complexity that comes with longer aging periods.

Does age matter in whisky?

Yes, age matters in whisky. The aging process influences the flavor, aroma, and overall character of the spirit.

During aging, whisky interacts with the wood of the barrel, extracting compounds that contribute to its complexity. However, while age is a crucial factor, it is not the sole determinant of quality.

Factors such as the type of barrel, environmental conditions, and the original distillation process also play significant roles in shaping the final product.

How long should I age my whiskey?

The ideal aging period for whiskey depends on the type of whisky, the desired flavor profile, and personal preference. While some whiskies benefit from longer aging periods, others, particularly those in smaller barrels or with a delicate character, may reach their peak sooner.

Experimentation and tasting samples over time can help determine the optimal aging period for a particular whiskey.

Is 60-year-old whiskey still good?

A 60-year-old whiskey can still be good, but the quality and enjoyment depend on several factors. Proper storage is crucial, as whiskey exposed to unfavorable conditions may deteriorate over time. Additionally, the wood influence becomes more pronounced with extended aging, leading to intense flavors.

Whether a 60-year-old whiskey is enjoyable is subjective, and some enthusiasts appreciate the rarity and depth of flavor in well-aged spirits, while others may find it too intense. Consulting with experts or tasting small samples before consuming large quantities is advisable for such aged whiskies.

Final Verdict: Does Whiskey Get Better With Age

Whiskey does get better with age as long it’s aged in the barrel and is not over-aged. Unlike wine, its maturity stops once bottled – no more added flavor and may lead to expiration over time. 

When choosing a wine or whiskey, you should remember that it should be aged for a more extended period to ensure better flavor. If you love whiskey, there are many options, but make sure to consider the whiskey’s age to have a flavorful drinking experience. Enjoy!

Reference:

  1. Oxidation Definition, Process & Examples

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