I have 2 bottles of cheap scotches: 1 Johnny Walker Red, and 1 Cutty Sark. But the kicker is, both of these bottles are >25 years old. My dad bought them back in the really late 70s or early 80s, and didn’t touch them at all, and ended up giving them to me.
I’m not a scotch drinker, although I dabble in cognac. So what should I do with these 2 bottles? I’ve already opened the Johnny Walker, and it tastes the same…
Should I worry about how to keep it? Should I get it insured? How to cook with it? etc. etc… Go, internets! Oueeeeennnnnndaaannnnn!
(Almost posted this as an off topic to the single malt scotch thread, but decided to finally try making a new thread. I feel…dirty…somehow… )
Aging happens inside wooden barrels because wood is a porous material and the tiny pores regulate the evaporation of alcohol and its dispersion into the outside air. As you may imagine, this process takes a while, hence why it’s called aging.
Glass bottles are not porous. The seal is likely air-tight and the alcohol in there is going to be the same as it was when it originally was bottled.
So what? Wine is aged in the bottle and it most definitely changes over time. And I doubt the cork, covered tightly in foil and only plugging a very small opening, allows any meaningful air exchange – certainly no more than your average scotch bottle top. Indeed, wine preservation systems are premised entirely on the concept of preventing air from getting to the wine.
Most modern wines don’t age well in the bottles (or at all) and only detoriate if you keep them too long. Modern wine production is made to be drunk right away and only a very low percentage of premium wines (ie expensive at the get go) are made for storing/investing in.
And whisky is very very different from wine so even if what you wrote was true for wine, it isn’t true for whisky and never has been. Whisky age in barrels and once bottled it stays like it is forever… it might lose a bit of strength and taste over many years, since the cap probably isn’t 100% tight - but it certainly won’t improve.
If you read about old spirits sold at auctions for high amounts, it’s because they’re rare, not because they grew better in the years they were forgotten in their bottles.
As noted, whiskeys age because they interact with air. Bottled whiskey, therefore, doesn’t age. Wines age because tannins break down over time, and that will occur in sealed bottles. As Hanzii notes, most wine is not “built” to age well, but it will still age — just don’t think you’re doing yourself a favor by keeping that $15 bottle of Zinf in your closet for two years.
You only want to age your wine if it improves with ageing, modern wines simply aren’t made to that purpose. The winemaking process has been greatly refined and as a consumer products, wines are made to be consumed straight away (straight away meaning 0-3 years). A few premium wines age well - those are the ones wine investment companies stock and they start their life as expensive wines.