What are the best tips for storing my liquor at home?
- Keep it cool
- Avoid sunlight
- Some belong in the fridge
- Tightly seal each bottle
- Place in the right position
- Wet the cork
- Drink that last bit
Everyone has a few bottles of liquor at home, tucked away in some corner of the freezer or cabinet. If you’re a fan of liquor, chances are you have more than just a few sitting in storage, waiting to be pulled out for the right occasion.
Most people don’t pay attention to how they store their liquor — but this is an important aspect of having a great tasting drink. While some bottles are less finicky, others will have more complicated shelf conditions. If you want to enjoy your liquor at its best, follow our tips for storing liquor!
Keep it cool
For most liquors, like whiskey, gin, tequila, and rum, the general rule is to store them in cool areas — at least room temperature. Though some experts recommend going a few degrees lower than that to preserve their great taste and character for longer.
But why is temperature so important for your liquor? Warm liquor isn’t dangerous to consume, but it’s not as enjoyable. When exposed to high or fluctuating temperatures, liquor can oxidize. This means that part of the alcohol in its profile consequently evaporates. This affects their alcohol content, which then affects the range of aromas and flavors present in the liquor.
Likewise, it’s best to avoid displaying your liquor where it’s sunny. It may look stylish to park your cart bar near some sunny windows, but it can compromise the quality and flavors of your liquor.
Aside from heating up your drinks, sunlight also contains UV rays. These won’t affect the alcohol content of your liquor — but it does end up affecting their flavors. UV rays can bleach the color from darker-colored liquor (like rum and scotch), which deteriorates the aromatic and flavor compounds in the drink.
Some belong in the fridge
Most liquor has enough alcohol to be stored at room temperature without spoiling, but there are a few things that will do better in your fridge. Cream-based liqueurs in particular, such as Baileys Irish cream, need to be kept at much colder temperatures to avoid spoiling. These can be kept in your fridge indefinitely, as long as they’re in good condition. But, it’s always best to follow their recommended “best by” dates on the bottle.
On the other hand, many people think keeping vodka in the freezer is the best way to store it. Keeping them in your freezer indefinitely may be best for cheap, low-quality vodkas to mask their rougher, burning bite. But for your top-shelf vodka, avoid storing it in the freezer. Keeping it at room temperature will help you enjoy the subtler and more sophisticated flavors.
Tightly seal each bottle
If you’re storing opened bottles of liquor, always check if they are properly sealed. Without that, air will seep into the bottle, and too much contact with air will alter its taste. For example, leaving the bottle slightly uncorked will lessen the smokiness of your whiskey.
Other liquors can build up sugar around their neck, which makes sealing them a bit more difficult. To avoid a build-up, wipe down your bottles after each use. This will also prevent other contaminants — like dust — from slipping into your drink and messing with its taste. Any screw tops or corks that seem damaged should be replaced by an airtight closure.
Place in the right position
For wine, we’re often told that wine needs to be kept on their side — this is not the case for corked liquor bottles. When dealing with the higher alcohol content of most liquor, like whiskey, keeping your bottle on its side can cause a chemical reaction with its cork. The cork then disintegrates over time and seeps into your drink, giving the liquor a moldy, cardboard-like taste. To avoid this happening, keep your corked bottles vertical.
Wet the cork
At the same time, you don’t want to let your corks dry out. If they do, they’re more likely to have cracks and let in some air — causing oxidation. It’s best to keep your bottles upright in storage, but give them a flip every so often to wet their cork. Depending on how humid your home is, you may have to do this once or a few times every month. This way, you can prevent your cork from cracking and degrading the quality of your liquor.
Drink that last bit
Unopened liquor can theoretically keep for years if stored properly. But, if you have a few opened bottles on hand, keep an eye on them — they may lose their flavors and aromas over time as they have been exposed to air.
After opening a bottle of liquor and enjoying some drinks, check how much is left at the bottom. If there’s a small amount, like one or two drinks worth, it may be better to finish it rather than keeping it for another time. Oxidation is unfortunately a process that tends to speed up when less than one-third is left. You could polish it off yourself, or share the rest with family and friends.
Your liquor won’t technically go bad, per se — but they can lose a lot of their great flavors and smells when not kept correctly. If you love enjoying a few drinks after work or on your days off, then follow our tips for storing liquor. These will help your favorite drinks taste great and age great down the road!
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