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Oct. 2010 sees the Whisky Knights drop in to Schloß Emporium

As you know by now, each month twelve whisky bloggers and commentators gather at their cyber Round Table for a discussion about a specific whisky-related topic. This month it's my turn to lower the drawbridge and invite this formidable duodecuple to Schloß Emporium as I ask them to share their pontifications about the concept of bottle ageing when it comes to our favourite liquid nectar.


I have recently had a few discussions relating to the differences between whisky bottled today and that bottled in past years. A good example of this is the comparison between two MiltonDuffs which I recently tried. They were both OB 12y offerings, one bottled in the early 1980's, the other in the late 1980's and they were drastically different. In addition both are completely different to more modern Miltonduff 12y expressions. Also, compare the OB Talisker 10y of 30 years ago with the 'same' offering of today and I am sure you'll find them completely different. One of my discussions on this subject led to my counterpart suggesting that any differences in taste were due to 'bottle ageing' and could not be explained solely by differences in distilling procedures or raw meterials being used.

So, this month's question is as follows; I know that officially the ageing or maturation of whisky is defined as the time spent in oak casks, but apart from that, do you believe in any form of 'bottle ageing' being accountable for changes in the flavour of whisky over a period of years whilst still in the bottle? (I am also talking about originally sealed and unopened bottles, as we all know that once a bottle is opened, oxidisation of the whisky can and often does occur).



Joel & Neil of Cask Strength

Joel and Neil met while working as A&R guys for two different major record labels. Mortal enemies at the time, they were brought together by a love of whisky and the fact that they happened to live near each other in South London. Now running the blog, writing for various publications and involving themselves in creative marketing for drinks brands (whatever the hell that means), in their spare time they debate various things such as “who would win in a flight, Christopher Reeve (if still alive) or Stephen Hawking” or “If noise left physical detritus, would people be employed to sweep it out of clubs into special bins on a Sunday morning?”. Their current fav whisky is Ardmore Traditional Cask. Delicious and cheap. Much like many of Joel’s former girlfriends.


“Here are the results from Caskstrength.net judges”

We don’t believe whisky ages in the bottle at all. Distilleries strive to make a consistent flavour New Make Spirit, which is what all the pipes and dials and charts that you see when you walk around a distillery are for: consistency. Once this consistent product is placed into inconsistent wooden barrels, stored in different places in different warehouses for different lengths of time and under variable weather conditions, you get a wide range and variety of flavours of whisky from one distillery.

It is then the job of the master blender to use this palate of casks to create an age statement single malt whisky as closely as he can to the release which followed before. This is a little like Chinese whispers however, and if the casks in the warehouses don’t have the same characteristics as the last batch of casks used, (s)he must create something as close as possible to the last batch. If the slight changes are then modified again a year later, then again a year later and then again a year later, etc etc, you will end up with a slightly different whisky 10 years on.

Other factors may be the malt used (currently optic and Oxbridge are favs, but this may change in 2, 3 or 4 years time) and crucially who the master blender is. If that person changes, then the whisky may well change. Style may also be adjusted for what the markets are currently demanding. If feedback from a large market says that they want heavily sherried, then you may err on the side of an extra European Oak cask in the mix.

We do, however, think that more obvious batch numbers on bottling (a la Abalour A’Bunadh) is a good idea, as clearly there is batch variation and real geeks like us will not want to have to spend our life looking at tiny bottle plant computer print on the backside of a bottle!



Chris & Lucas of Edinburgh Whisky Blog

Philanthropists, patrons of arts, peace negotiators, people who know everyone and everything while being modest to the point of near-invisibility, Chris and Lucas are considered to be two of the greatest personas of the 20th and 21st centuries, alongside Ghandi, Einstein and Justin Bieber. They never sleep and never eat, drink only boiled whisky and can communicate telepathically with humans and animals. Until recently it was believed they were two penniless recent graduates living in Edinburgh but that was proven to be just a cover-up in an ongoing journalist investigation run simultaneously by all the major daily newspapers of Western Civilisation. The break in the investigation came when press obtained photos of Chris and Lucas sitting directly to the left and right of Bill Clinton's daughter during her wedding reception. This year C&L have been shortlisted for all the Nobel Prizes and it is believed that on Saturday they will appear on the UK TV talent show 'The X Factor' helping Cheryl Cole judge the contestants at the 'Judges' Houses' stage of the competition.


I'm glad you brought this topic up, Keith. There isn't enough uber-geeky technical chat on-line for my liking.

While beer and wine conditioning process is a function of yeast and exposure to oxygen may lead to staling, whisky maturation is not a biological process but rather a chemical one and requires circulation of oxygen to occur.

My organic chemistry knowledge is far from satisfactory so correct me if I'm wrong but what we mean by good maturation isn't simply spirit soaking up flavour compounds present in oak (like vanillin or tannins) but also alcohols oxidising to acids, aldehydes (mainly acetaldehyde which commonly derives from ethanol, copious amounts of which are present in whisky to our delight) and then further to esters, ketones and other yummy compounds, the stars of the perfume world and unsung heroes of whisky.

It can be therefore concluded that some flavouring of spirit by adding oak chips to the bottle can occur while proper maturation this way is, in my humble opinion, impossible.



Jason of GuidScotchDrink

Hailing from Burns country, Jason has been tasting whisky and leading whisky tastings for over 13 years. He also leads whisky tours of Scotland in search of Guid Scotch Drink!


I have no doubt that "bottle aging" of some description occurs over time, even with originally sealed and unopened bottles.  No cork can possibly keep out all oxygen, and no foil wrapper, in consort with the cork, can possibly halt evaporation.

Few of us are surprised when the level of whisky in a sealed bottle drops with the passage of time, so why should we be surprised when there occur subtle changes in flavor?  The evaporating alcohol exits the bottle, ergo, the whisky is changed.  Oxygen enters the bottle and invites oxidation to some degree, ergo, the whisky is changed.  Now, if you're asking me what flavors are likely to change, I will suggest fruity and floral notes, but that is merely supposition and conjecture.  Many of us have noticed pronounced sulfury notes when first pouring a heavily sherried whisky only to find them strangely absent after the poured contents have been exposed to a healthy dose of oxygen and time.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to test this with unopened bottles over time.  Perhaps some of our readers can attest to this with personal anecdotes.

I think the problem we encounter when referring to this process as "bottle aging" is that, semantically, it sounds akin to "bottle maturing" and we've been told long enough by distillery owners and professional Scotch Whisky Associations that whisky DOES NOT, with penalty of death, mature after bottling.  Of course it doesn't, it matures in oak casks, but it is most definitely still capable of interacting with the atmosphere long after it's been placed in it's shiny, glass sepulchre, inhaling trace amounts of oxygen while exhaling dusty breaths of alcohol.


Joshua of The Jewish Malt Whisky Society

Joshua is 36 and is first and foremost a husband and a father.  He's also a cigar smoking, whisky tasting, beer swilling, kosher keeping vegetarian.  He runs a whisky society which currently has about 22 members and is also the author of The Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society blog which focuses on unique reviews, interviews with key people within the whisk(e)y industry and opinions on Scotch, Japanese Whisky & American Whiskey.  Joshua has been a musician for more than 23 years playing in various punk/avant-garde/progressive bands for all 23 of those years.  His current and longest lasting work is as part of the American power trio Kimono Draggin' (http://www.kimonodraggin.com) which plays throughout the US and Europe.


Keith, this is an interesting question.  One that may be better answered by one of those fancy-pants uptown, know-it-all college grads with bigger diplomas than me (sadly, I doubt I'll ever get around to getting my phD…).

Seriously though, with regards to the build-up to your question where you pointed out two 12yo MiltonDuffs which were so very different but bottled in the same decade - I would venture a bold guess in that there would be differences in the actual fluid before they were bottled.

I'll give you a very basic example of Glenmorangie's new-ish "Original" which replaced their 10yo.  Both are 10 year old (minimum age) whiskies.  Both are comprised of first fill & refill ex-bourbon casks combined to create a certain flavor profile.  One of the reasons for the name change, bottle style change, etc… (though let's take all of the marketing wizardry out of the picture) was that Glenmorangie ran out of the old fluid!  They had to come out with a new 10yo product to replace the old.  

So here we have an example of a 10yo Glenmorangie whisky produced in the early to mid 2000's differing from a 10yo Glenmorangie which was produced in the later 2000's (the Original, if I'm not mistaken, came out in 2007).  This is a constant for every whisky producer.  Eventually, these distilleries run out of fluid for their 10yo, 15yo, 25yo, etc… and these whisky expressions are relaunched with new fluid (and sometimes with a big marketing push).

While I do not believe in bottle aging (or Santa Claus for that matter), I would venture to guess that there could be some changes to the fluid if a bottle is not stored properly.  

Let's run a test, shall we?  If we took two bottles of… let's say Springbank 15yr (oh, you are a sexy little dram, aren't you!?) and stored one in a cabinet and the other on a window sill for 3 years, the direct sun & temperature change would affect the fluid (and the cork, I gather) in some way.  

You can take the window sill whisky, I'll take the properly stored whisky.
Joshua Hatton



Chris of Nonjatta

Chris is a 39-year-old British journalist living in central Tokyo. He has a
5-year-old son and not enough drinking time. He works for a Japanese newspaper but his real obsession at the moment is a book about Japanese alcohol which is due out at the end of the year.


I don't think I am really in a position to give an informed answer on the bottle aging issue because I just don't have any relevant expertise.

My guess is that there is some change in an unopened bottle. I know that some shochu distillers in southern Japan bottle age their distilled spirit and seem to believe the alcohol changes.

I did have a very interesting conversation with the owner of Bar Crane, a whisky/grappa bar in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, about the differences between different years of standard distillery bottlings  and he was insistent that there are huge variations due not to bottle aging but to changes in the way the whisky is made over time.

He has a comprehensive selection of Macallans dating back decades and says that, in his opinion, the quality has fallen off markedly. I didn't have enough cash in my pocket to judge for myself by tasting his range but, in principle, I would say the maintenance of complete consistency over decades is highly unlikely.



Peter of The Casks

Choosing to explore his Scotch-Irish heritage through his love of Scotch whisky, Peter's been a whisky fan for as long as he feels comfortable remembering.  After a long stint as bike racer, (which doesn't really mix all that well with a serious whisky habit) he hung up his silly lycra costumes, picked up a couple of Glencairn glasses, an Ardbeg, some Van Winkle and turned what was previously a somewhat disreputable practice into something more "academic" and productive.  He and his dad now drive his brother and step-mom nuts when they get into deep philosophical discussions about what bottle to buy next.


Well, I guess that the party line is that once in a bottle, a whisky doesn't really change much. Obviously, in the wine and beer world, bottle aging plays an important role, but in the whisky world any change is probably not intended. I suppose in the MiltonDuff and Talisker examples, you'd have to consider the distilleries making conscious changes to the flavor profile over the years but I think there are reasons to believe its time in the bottle can change a whisky.

The biggest reasons might be environmental.  In the wine world, for example, some wineries will hold back bottles of a vintage and cellar them properly for years.  If, while in Italy, you open up a nice Barolo at the winery where it was produced, bottled, and stored at, it will taste far different (and probably better) than the same bottled vintage that's taken a truck ride to a container ship, sat in a hot warehouse in NYC for a week and then jostled around for another few days on a truck ride out to San Francisco and your waiting glass. Even the best booze isn't handled with kid gloves by everyone who touches it, there's a lot of sloshing around until it finally hits the shelves.

Does a bottle that's been through a lot of shipping trauma suffer? How many "climates" has it gone through before ending up in your glass? Will whisky shipped in the hot summer lose a bit compared to whisky shipped in a cold Winter? How much influence does the cork have on taste?

I'd be pretty surprised if environmental considerations like these have zero effect on a whisky...but is the effect measurable? These would be more immediate effects on a bottle, I'm not sure about effects over a period of years. If we're to believe blenders ideas about letting a blend "marry" for a few months before bottling, then you'd have to think that a non-single cask malt would also go through a similar marriage, with the flavors from each cask making up the "single malt" mellowing and incorporating more over time.



Matt & Karen of Whisky for Everyone

Matt currently works at The Whisky Shop's London branch but cut his ‘whisky’ teeth at the famous Royal Mile Whiskies.  Karen is driven by being told that “girls don’t drink whisky” and is going about proving that statement wrong!  Both are habitual barflys, who are looking for the next interesting drink to sample.  Three years ago, neither knew anything about whisky and struggled to find anywhere suitable online to teach them and other whisky beginners.  So they decided to write such a site themselves and document their whisky education as it evolves.  The Whisky For Everyone blog was born and from this, the website whiskyforeveryone.com has grown.  That whisky education continues ….


We have always been told or have read that whisky only ages in the cask and not in the bottle, so it was interesting to find this question raised.  Since it was posed a couple of weeks ago, we have spoken to a number of people in the whisky industry about the possibilities of this happening. 

Is everything that we have read or been told to date, ultimately wrong?  They have all stated categorically that no ageing takes place within an unopened whisky bottle, as there is minimal contact with any air and the alcohol ABV strength is too high (this is true for most spirits and unlike wine, which has a much lower ABV). 

The people that we asked have put the changes in any one expression of whisky down to one thing – the move away from traditional selection methods to a more highly scientific approach to whisky making.  Even up until 10 years ago, most distilleries selected their whiskies through a combination of the warehouse manager and the master distiller. 

Now, almost exclusively, distilleries and companies use science from the beginning of the whisky making process – barley is selected on a micro nutrient level and each part is then measured in technical sensory labs.  This creates consistent but different whiskies from the past and takes away nuances within the flavour profile of a mass marketed whisky.

So have we changed our minds about this – no!



Gal of Whisky Israel

Gal is a software geek in the daytime and whisky geek and fanatic 24/7 . Father of 2 lovely Kids,  35 years old and  Living in Kfar-Saba (a suburb of Tel Aviv). Founder and Editor of Whisky Israel; The only whisky blog from the holy land written in English. Whisky Israel features tasting notes, and whisky musings and is aimed at the international whisky community rather then at the rather small Israeli whisky market. Whisky Israel has recently evolved into a Whisky tasting society which convenes once a month and is currently growing. In addition to Whisky Israel, Gal runs a leading Hebrew culinary blog - "Foodnwine.co.il" and enjoys Good food and great Jazz. Gal is an internet 'freak' and can be found tweeting 24/7.


I am not a whisky veteran as some of you (and Keith is). I've been drinking whisky only for a few years now, but I do not believe in miracles :) We are always told by so called 'whisky experts' and people with PHDs in chemistry that Whisky does not change after bottling (given no air is allowed to enter the bottle and that the cork is in good shape). I tend to agree. 

So how can we possibly explain that whisky over the years does not taste 'the same'?

Most people think of 'Single Malts' as the purest form of whisky. I get asked about whisky quite a lot being considered a whisky 'expert' by those who don't know much about the nectar of the gods (AKA whisky). Time and time again people get confused between 'single cask' and 'single malt'. We all know that Single malt really means that the spirit was distilled and aged in the same distillery, but the end product, say the 10,12,18,20 year old expression is always a vatting of many casks, distilled at many points in time, using barley which sometimes changes and casks that were available at that time etc.

Essentially, a Talisker '10' made a few decades ago and bottled then, has to somehow be different than the Talisker bottled yesterday.  But yes. I know Master blenders do use their amazing abilities to maintain a certain 'profile' and 'color' (given we don't use the evil caramel) but there is only so much that can be done to achieve that, given stocks do differ over a large span of time. 

I posted my Notes and impressions a few weeks ago about a Glenmorangie tasting I attended not long ago. In that tasting the importer spoke about the change of the Glenmo profile after LVMH took over and that the 'Original' is not really the same as it was before, but changed to fit the palates of a larger audience and to match the 'profile' LVMH wanted Glenmo to have. 

So, as you can see, all those factors do contribute to the 'change' whisky through the years... Magic, it is not.

Trends come and go, and whisky profiles change with them. More Peat, Less spice, more pepper etc. Who knows how the Ardbegs and Taliskers of 2050 will taste? (i'm betting super peaty, but who knows? )





Ruben of WhiskyNotes

Ruben lives in Belgium although he has also lived in Spain, he is a musicologist and now a web designer. He's 32 years old and tastes at least 300 new whiskies a year. He specifically likes Brora and Karuizawa as well as anything old and sherried. He runs his "WhiskyNotes"  blog where he keeps up not only with whisky news and events, but also archives all his tasting notes.


I don’t think differences between a Miltonduff from the early 80’s and late 80’s can be explained by bottle ageing. I’m even more certain the old Talisker 10 is different from recent bottlings only because it was distilled, monitored, matured and handled differently.

On the other hand: yes, I’ve experienced some of the effects that have been described as ‘Old Bottle Effect’ (lower peat levels, metallic notes, a certain dustiness / mustiness). I do believe a whisky changes inside a bottle due to interaction with light, glass, air… In fact, a liquid NOT changing over the course of 30 or 40 years would be more surprising to me – in the end nothing is perfectly stable.

It’s quite an anorak discussion I guess… Most people will never experience bottle ageing, and I’m afraid recently some people are trying to discover it even when it’s not there. You need a very long time before it starts to happen, and you’ll never know whether the whisky has changed or just your perception of the whisky.


Mike of Whisky Party

Whisky Party is Mike, Mike, and Dan who, although living in America, are exploring the world of Scotch whisky one dram at a time.  They are all under 35 and concentrate upon Scotch whisky in the hope of helping to demystify the world of Scotch and whiskey drinking and help folks find good whiskies at good prices.


It's my understanding, picked up from people much more learned than I in the art of whisky making, that there is no aging or alteration of the spirit once whisk(e)y is in the bottle.  That said, it's easy to see why any number of people - particularly newcomers to whisky - might find reason to disbelieve the experts. 

We live in a culture dominated (regrettably) more by wine and beer than whiskey, both of which change considerably whilst in the bottle.  Wine is often valued higher as it matures in the bottle.  And while a few weeks resting in the bottle can help a beer's flavor, if left too long things can go sour (just ask any college freshman or a Budweiser marketer looking to tout their latest "born on" date).   In this context, the inert nature of a whisky's flavor is something of
a counter-intuitive anomaly in our drinking culture. 

The second reason, of course, is batch variation.  From tiny changes in the (also aging) distilling equipment, to new sources of water and wood, it's tough to keep things 100% identical from batch to batch, let alone decade to decade.   Small variations over time add up, accounting for noticeable differences in taste. 

Indeed, avoiding this sort of batch variation is one of the goals of the major blends, which strive to produce the same flavor time and time again.  It would be interesting to participate in an "historical tasting" of one of the major blends like Johnnie Walker Black.  If I worked as a marketer for a major whisk
ey company in possession of one of the big blends, I'd arrange for just such a tasting as a way to educate drinkers about the blend - a dram each from 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010.



Mark of Glasgow's Whisky

Mark is 35 and has lived in Glasgow all his life. He runs a festival and a forum as well as the blog which is really just a mish-mash of what’s going on in his life and brain. A previous career as a web designer has proved handy but the whisky is now taking over more and more...


Yes and no. I think it likely depends on the whisky and what is done to it before it is bottled. Recently I tried a dram of Auchentoshan which was bottled straight from the cask using a valinch which meant a good amount of the charred cask was deposited at the bottom. I would assume that the whisky was probably still reacting in some way with these tiny, black flakes. Since it was not filtered in any way I would also hesitate a guess that all the compounds would, to some degree, merge for a little while longer in the bottle.

These thoughts therefore lead me to guessing that any heavily processed and cleaned whisky will not mature much, if at all, in a bottle. If there’s nothing in there to keep the reactions going, even for a short time, then nothing should change. Clearly I am no chemist and am purely guessing all of this which could be utter nonsense!



Keith (that's me) of WhiskyEmporium

Keith is a born and bred Yorkshireman now living in the Southern-Bavarian town of Erding, more famous for weißbier than whisky. He moved to Germany with his job in 1998 but suffered in cut-backs during 2005 when he was made redundant. He decided to turn his hobby of more than 20 years into a business by founding Whisky Emporium as he teamed up with a local restaurant to offer gourmet whisky dinners. He also owned a whisky bar in Munich from 2007 which boasted almost 150 single malts. As the bar was closed in 2009 he is now unemployed again and searching for a job within his range of skills and experience. Since Oct. 2009 Whisky Emporium has grown into a home for Keith's extensive whisky tasting notes (currently numbering well over 500) and musings.


When I asked this question, what I had in mind was a recent discussion with another whisky blogger who lives quite locally and has become a good friend in real life, as well as in cyber-land. Anyway, he was advocating that some kind of bottle ageing had to exist as the differences in whisky surely couldn't be explained by using different ingredients today, as were used a decade or three ago.

My own thoughts on this subject are that maturation, or ageing, ends when the whisky leaves the cask. This is the official definition of maturation, it defines how a whisky may be labelled with regards to age and yes, I really believe that once bottled the whisky matures no further so long as the bottle remains originally sealed. When opened, it still may not mature further, but it's certainly liable to oxidisation.

But what could explain the differences in supposedly the same whisky bottled today as opposed to its counterpart of a couple of decades ago?

Of course there are differences in raw materials, one of which we love to quote being the decline of "Golden Promise" for more disease-resistant and greater yielding crops. But is this enough to explain the differences? Even if some distilleries have also optimised other production processes alongside the optimisation of raw materials?

I don't believe so. Although these changes play a part, I believe that the answer lies also in the fact that it probably isn't the 'same' whisky.

Shock-horror! Surely that Talisker 10y is and always will be Talisker 10y? Miltonduff 12y will always be Miltonduff 12y ... etc.

Fear not, they will indeed always be so, bean-counters permitting. So what can I possibly mean?

If a distillery bottles a single cask it's perfectly clear what is in that bottle; whisky from only the stated cask from the stated distillery. But if a distillery bottles an expression, let's say Glen Wobbly 10y, then of course all the whisky in the bottle has to be the sole product of Glen Wobbly, but as for the casks, all we know for certain is that the youngest whisky in the mix (or vatting) is 10 years of age.

Naturally each distillery has their own range of expressions which they try to keep as static as possible in order to build a loyal customer base and product recognition, but in reality, when we look at warehouse stocks over a period of many years, these stocks will undoubtedly change and some ages or vintages will of course be exhausted, leading to the necessity to change the 'recipe' slightly.

So, as a conclusion I believe that although our Glen Wobbly 10y, Talisker 10y or Miltonduff 12y (or whichever distillery) will always be an accurate statement from the distillery, the actual whisky which goes into the specific 'mix' will almost certainly change over the years to reflect current stocks and thus making the end product slightly different.

But there again, isn't this just another benefit of being a whisky anorak and having the pleasurable opportunities to experience and compare these changes first-hand when we find those older bottlings?

Slàinte my fellow Knights, Slàinte Oliver.

Keith Wood


WhiskyKnights on




"What they said"

Fancy adding your own comment on the topic of bottle ageing, or would you just like to comment on our own answers and opinions?

I will happily include all comments, please just send them to me at "Info (at) Whisky-Emporium (dot) com" or by clicking here; Replies to Bottle Ageing

  Jason said: (GuidScotchDrink)

Looks great, Keith.  I especially enjoyed the shields/coat-of-arms, Thanks for putting this together.  Slàinte, Jason

  Oliver said: (Dramming.com)

















Sir Keith has mentioned my musings as an inspiration to bring up the topic of bottle aging, which is much appreciated. But I feel that a few things need additional clarification. Keith's  summary of my blog postings may create the impresison that I was advocating any noticeable differences af a whisky epresison over time could only be the result of bottle aging. But this does not reflect my actual opinion on this topic.

The almost constant adjustments of production parameters along with variations in cask selection or even the change of barley varieties will have a significant effect on the whisky over a longer period of time. There is no doubt about that. But I am also strongly  convinced that
even in an unopened bottle the whisky is undergoing a permant process of change. Call it "aging", "maturation", "oxidisation" or whatever.

Anyone who has a faint grip of chemistry or physics knows that the hundreds of chemical substances present in whisky are in constant reactions with each other. Most reactions will neutralize each other because they go back and forth, but there will always be rearrangements of molecules or the formations of new compounds under the influence of light and air which are impossible to keep out of the bottle. Even in a closed cupboard there are plenty of photons buzzing around that can induce a reaction between two molecules. And my work at a mass spectrometer when I prepared for my University degree showed me just how hard it is to seal a container reasonably airtight. And we used slightly more advanced equipment than just cork stoppers.

And then, why do you think eau de vie distilleries in Central Europe are using large glass vessels to mature their spirits? They've been doing this for centuries, and they wouldn't do it if wouldn't have an effect. Compare a fresh eau de vie like Kirschwasser with an aged version by the same distillery. You will taste the difference.  And most of the small distileries won't constantly tweak their production. Seasonal variations are of course unavoidable with a natural product, but aged eau de vie constantly tastes smoother and richer than unaged spirit.

Just because the changes in the bottle are very slow and are usually masked by changes in production, they are ususally neglected. But this does not mean they are not happening.

  MosStef said: (twitter user)   Very interesting topic and a very interesting read. Funny how opinions differ.  
  Douglas said:





I believe that the whisky when it was bottled in 1970 would have tasted different to the equivalent whisky bottled in 2010 because of changes in production processes, ingredients, cask management, cask selection, and so on.

However, I am also convinced that the chemistry of the whisky put into a Talisker 10 in 1970 would be subtly different to a bottle of that 1970 Talisker opened in 2010 because of continued reactions in the spirit over the last 40 years.

  Duncan said:




I would say that there is no bottle aging in whisky, however you will get oxidisation occuring if you visit your whisky intermittently. This can tin the flavours out or if you are lucky might even improve your whisky. I still reckon that there might possibly be microscopic changes but these are so small that the tongue cant pick them up. Ask a chemist?

  Patrick said:













Hi Keith,
Here is my personnal opinion on bottle aging.

According to the regulations, age of a whisky is defined as the age spent in the cask and not  as the time spent  between the distillation and the opening time of the bottle (as for wine, for instance). During the maturation in the cask, major chemical changes occurs in the spirit (see
http://www.whisky-news.com/En/reports/Entry_proof.html since the cask acts like a semi-permeable membrane and allows exchanges between the spirit and the cask as well as between the spirit and the environment (air). Once a whisky has been bottled, this process is stopped, since the bottle is impermeable and glass does not interact (at least  not to significant proportions) with whisky. Theortically, aging in a bottle should not occur. However, since there is air (headspace) in a whisky bottle, some chemical reactions do occur (http://www.whisky-n ews.com/En/reports/Headspace.html), that can affect the flavours of a whisky. Furthermore, since many bottles are nowadays provided in transparent glass bottles, photo-oxydation could occur, although this has not been studied. I also remember the comments from Mr Samaroli about some of his bottlings (e.g., the famous Glen Garioch 1971 Sherry cask strength) were relatively rough at the time of bottling, but 20 years later, they gained considerably in terms of smoothness. To my opinion, "bottle aging" does occur, but the process is slow (or even very slow) and the impact of the flavours is marginal compared to the impact of the maturation in a cask.
Some differences in flavours could be explained by bottle aging in the case of Miltonduff, but changes in the production process are the major factors explaining these differences: yeast, distillation time, stills (e.g., no more Lomond stills), type of casks used, type of barley, etc.

Patrick Brossard





Other Round Table discussions from The Whisky Knights

July 2011

Joshua of "The Jewish SIngle Malt Whisky Society" (Whisky Rating, yes or no?)

June 2011

Back to Jason of GuidScotchDrink (Whisky bloggers - more or less?)

May 2011

Chris of Nonjatta (Socialites, cheap blended whisky and our palates)

April. 2011

Gal of WhiskyIsrael (Favourite single cask)

March. 2011

Chris & Lucas of EdinburghWhisky (Say Yo to packaging)

Feb. 2011

Matt & Karen of Whisky4Everyone (talking dirty)

Jan. 2011

Mike, Mike & Dan of Whisky Party (Craft distilling)


Dec. 2010

Joel & Neil of Cask Strength (Festive whisky discounting)

Nov. 2010

Mark of Glasgow's Whisky (Whisky Festivals)

Oct. 2010

Here on Whisky-Emporium

Sept. 2010

Ruben of "WhiskyNotes" (Independent bottlers)

August 2010

Peter of "The Casks" (Susceptibility to marketing & advertising)

July 2010

Joshua of "The Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society" (Nose & Palate dev't)

June 2010

Jason of "GuidScotchDrink" (Personal rules & breaking them)





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