So in our mini series around the Distiller’s bottling of Talisker we saw flavour changes over the course of nearly a year. The reason for that I am sure you will have gathered is oxidisation in the bottle as the ratio of air and whisky changes over time.
Is this a good or a bad thing? Well that is really up to the reader to work out for themselves. Certainly, in my experience some level of oxidisation especially for sherried whiskies really adds to the whisky and brings out new flavours. Some of those flavours will be teased out with water in fresher pours but others are unique to the oxidisation process.
For your heavy Islay peated whiskies though the most intense and elemental experiences will only ever happen on newly opened bottles. Too intense for some but for those numbed by years of peat blasts the only time they get a good fix of peat is on opening. That can be a problem for some so what options are available?
Well, there is a couple of things you could do if you really want to slow down the process and keep things fresh and vibrant.
If you buy a selection of differently sized bottles then as you take a dram or two out of the bottle you can de-camp the rest of it into a smaller bottle. Bottles can be easily picked up from Amazon and that will avoid any oxidisation happening in the bottle since there will never be a blanket of air touching the whisky.
Check out a search I did for bottles on Amazon here https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=glass+bottles&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aglass+bottles
Something which is marketed at wine drinkers is inert gas canisters which you can squirt into your bottle once you have finished drinking from it. The gas is inert and doesn’t react with the whisky and stays in the bottle because it is heavier than the air in our environment.
I have never used these but they are well known about and used extensively for storing whisky. The reviews I have seen seem to show that spending more does not get better results so go with something you can afford and try it out if you want to.
Check out a search I did on amazon for gas blankets. https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=inert+gas+wine
Bottle sharing has two main advantages in that you don’t pay for an entire bottle and you don’t have to drink an entire bottle. One is good for the wallet and the other your health. The side effect of this is that if you store your share in a bottle of equal capacity to the volume of whisky you again have no oxidisation problem.
Potentially, bottle sharing can mean you get to try more bottles per year and offer you a lower risk on something different. That in turn could mean you open up a new segment of the market for yourself and explore full bottles you otherwise would have left on the shelf.
The bottom line on this is really quite simple. If you want to avoid your whisky oxidising then basically you have to stop the whisky and air touching each other. Your options are probably fairly limited on that front over what I have already discussed already. However, if it is all too much like hard work and a little too geeky then simply enjoy the journey like I do and see where it takes you. Sure, the chances are you will fall off the curve and have a couple of drams which aren’t so exciting but isn’t that all part of the experience?