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How to Store Bourbon: 5 Ways Revealed (2024 Updated)

How to Store Bourbon

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Lydia Martin

If you love bourbon, we bet you’ve already started collecting a few bottles. Sure, you want to set a bourbon display to show off your collection, but properly storing this spirit is crucial to ensure that your investment lasts long. 

This ultimate guide will show you how to store bourbon.

5 Proper Ways Storing Bourbon

5 Proper Ways Storing Bourbon

1. Store In Dark Places

The proper storage of this liquor is needed to maintain its excellent taste and quality. One of the best ways to store bourbon is to keep it in a dark place, away from direct sunlight and extreme heat. 

This will allow the bourbon to age properly and develop its flavor. Light breaks down the chemical compounds in this drink, which give it its distinctive flavor.

2. Keep Away From Sunlight

Sunlight

If you’re wondering how to store bourbon, the most important thing to remember is that the storage should be in a cool, unlit room. The bourbon should be kept away from direct sunlight and other light sources. The light can cause the liquor to become cloudy and change its taste.

3. Position It Upright

Unlike wine, which is stored horizontally, it’s best to store the bourbon upright. Keeping the wine bottles stored on their side ensures that the liquid stays in constant contact with the cork. It keeps the cork moist to prevent it from drying or cracking.

Typically, corks degrade over time, especially if the bourbon is of higher proof. Keeping the bottled spirits in an upright position when storing them is best.

4. Keep At Room Temperature 

Room Temperature

Temperature fluctuations affect the flavor and quality of bourbon. The ideal range for bourbon storage is from 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. It also needs to be stored in a place away from light. This helps the spirit keep tasting good and maintain its quality for longer periods. 

It’s important to protect your liquor from temperature extremes. The frequent temperature change might impart unpleasant flavors.

5. Store In Small Glass Bottles

Miniature Bottles

One of the proper ways to store bourbon is to keep it in a smaller glass and sealed bottles. When you have a bottle of this spirit, which is already more than two-thirds empty, it’s best to empty the contents into smaller glass bottles to lessen the air in the bottles. 

The more oxygen present in the bottle, the faster it will oxidize. Oxidation changes the bourbon’s flavors within a few months.

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How Long Should You Store It?

How Long Should You Store It?

Open

Once the bottle of bourbon is opened, it can reach up to two years before it goes bad if the liquor is half full. If it’s about one-fourth, the open bottles of bourbon have an expiration date of six months. The spirits start losing their color, and the flavor changes. 

Other factors that can affect the shelf life of bourbon are exposure to light, air, and temperature fluctuations.

Not Open

Barrel Bourbon

You can store an unopened bourbon bottle almost forever. There is no time frame. An unopened bottle of this liquor won’t go bad as long as it’s distilled. They also won’t turn to vinegar, like wine and beer

If you’re keeping them in the storage for long, so it keeps on tasting better, it won’t happen because bourbon doesn’t age in the bottle. Here are some bourbon shelf display ideas to try

Should You Refrigerate Bourbon?

No, you dont need to refrigerate the bourbon. Keeping it refrigerated won’t improve the flavor. Sure, keeping it cold affects the taste, and it’s up to the preference of the drinker whether the drink tastes better when chilled or not. 

However, experts agree that keeping the alcohol at room temperature maintains the flavor. Also, spirits like whiskey have high alcohol content, which preserves their integrity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you have to replace the cork of an opened bourbon?

No, you do not have to replace the cork of an opened bourbon. It is there to protect the bourbon from oxidation and prevent it from turning into vinegar. The cork is not meant to seal the bourbon, so it will not go bad if there is a small amount of oxygen in the bottle.

How long will an unopened bottle of bourbon last?

An unopened bottle of bourbon [1] will last for more than a decade or almost forever as long as it is stored properly. 

What is the proper way to store bourbon?

Bourbon should be stored in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and temperature fluctuations. The ideal storage temperature is around 60-65°F (15-18°C). Exposure to sunlight and extreme temperatures can negatively impact the flavor and quality of the bourbon. Additionally, it’s crucial to store bourbon bottles upright to minimize oxidation and prevent the cork from drying out.

Should you keep bourbon in the fridge?

No, it is not recommended to store bourbon in the fridge. Unlike some wines or liqueurs, bourbon does not benefit from refrigeration. In fact, cold temperatures can dull the flavors and aromas of bourbon. Storing it in the fridge can also lead to the formation of sediment, affecting the overall quality of the spirit. It’s best to keep bourbon at a consistent room temperature in a dark and cool environment.

How long can I keep a bottle of bourbon?

Bourbon, when stored properly, can last indefinitely. Unlike wine, bourbon does not mature or change significantly in the bottle. However, it’s important to note that once a bottle is opened, the spirit may slowly oxidize over time, potentially affecting its flavor profile. To enjoy bourbon at its best, it is recommended to consume it within 1-2 years of opening. Proper storage conditions play a crucial role in maintaining the quality of the bourbon over time.

How do you preserve an open bottle of bourbon?

To preserve an open bottle of bourbon, minimize the air exposure by ensuring the bottle is tightly sealed after each use. Consider using a vacuum pump to remove excess air from the bottle. Store the opened bourbon in a cool, dark place and avoid temperature fluctuations. If the bourbon comes with a cork, store the bottle upright to prevent the cork from drying out. It’s also advisable to sample the bourbon periodically to monitor any changes in flavor and enjoy it at its best.

Do you put bourbon in the freezer?

It is generally not recommended to put bourbon in the freezer. Unlike some other spirits, bourbon contains a higher alcohol content, and freezing can dull its flavors and aromas. Additionally, extreme cold can cause the natural oils and fatty acids in the bourbon to solidify, affecting the overall texture and taste. Storing bourbon in a cool, dark place at room temperature is the preferred method to preserve its characteristics.

How long will bourbon last once opened?

Once opened, bourbon can last for a considerable amount of time if stored properly. Proper storage involves keeping the bottle tightly sealed to minimize air exposure, storing it upright to prevent cork drying, and keeping it in a cool, dark place. While bourbon does not necessarily spoil or expire, the quality may gradually decline over time due to oxidation. It is recommended to consume an opened bottle of bourbon within 1-2 years for optimal flavor, but it can still be enjoyable beyond that timeframe.

Does bourbon expire?

Bourbon does not have a strict expiration date like perishable foods. When stored properly in a sealed bottle, bourbon can be enjoyed for an indefinite period. However, it’s essential to note that over time, exposure to air can lead to oxidation, potentially altering the flavor profile. While bourbon doesn’t “expire” in the traditional sense, its quality may decline after extended periods.

Is bourbon better cold or warm?

Bourbon is generally best enjoyed at room temperature or slightly above. Serving bourbon too cold can mask its complex flavors and aromas, as lower temperatures can dull the taste buds. It is recommended to pour bourbon over ice if a colder serving temperature is desired, allowing for a gradual dilution that enhances the drinking experience without compromising the spirit’s character. Ultimately, personal preference plays a role, and some may enjoy experimenting with different serving temperatures to find what suits their taste.


Should you drink bourbon warm or cold?

Bourbon is traditionally enjoyed at room temperature or slightly above. Drinking bourbon too cold can suppress its intricate flavors and aromas, as colder temperatures may dull the taste buds. If a colder serving is desired, it’s recommended to add a few ice cubes to the bourbon rather than serving it extremely chilled. This allows for a gradual dilution, enhancing the drinking experience without compromising the spirit’s character. Ultimately, the choice between warm and cold is a matter of personal preference, and individuals can experiment to find the temperature that suits their taste.

Is Jack Daniel’s a bourbon?

No, Jack Daniel’s is not classified as a bourbon. While it shares some similarities with bourbon, such as being a type of whiskey, Jack Daniel’s is technically a Tennessee whiskey. The main distinction lies in the production process, particularly the charcoal filtering method known as the Lincoln County Process, which involves dripping the whiskey through sugar maple charcoal before aging. This process sets Tennessee whiskey, including Jack Daniel’s, apart from bourbon, which does not undergo the same charcoal filtering requirement.

How do you tell if bourbon has gone bad?

Bourbon does not spoil or go bad in the same way perishable foods do. However, it can experience changes in quality over time due to factors like oxidation. Signs that bourbon may have deteriorated include a significant change in color, a musty or off-putting odor, or a noticeable loss of flavor intensity. If the bourbon has been exposed to excessive air or sunlight, these factors can accelerate its decline. Proper storage conditions, such as keeping the bottle sealed and in a cool, dark place, help mitigate these issues and prolong the quality of the bourbon.

How should you drink bourbon?

The preferred way to drink bourbon depends on personal taste, but there are common methods. Neat, or straight, is a popular choice, allowing you to savor the full complexity of the spirit. Adding a few drops of water can help open up the flavors by reducing the alcohol’s intensity. Some enjoy bourbon on the rocks, over ice, which provides a gradual dilution. Bourbon also works well in classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned or Manhattan. Experimenting with different methods and finding the one that enhances your enjoyment is key, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to drinking bourbon.

Final Thoughts On How To Store Bourbon

Bourbon is a whiskey distilled from a mash containing at least 51 percent corn. Like wine and other spirits, bourbon is great to share with friends. However, it’s most likely that you won’t be drinking it as quickly as you would a bottle of wine. 

If you can’t finish drinking the whole bottle, you should know how to store bourbon properly. There are different factors to consider in maintaining the alcohol’s great quality. Ensuring that this spirit is in a sealed bottle and keeping it away from sunlight can help maintain its color, quality, and flavor. 

Reference:

  1. Bourbon Whiskey
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