One of my favourite things about the products we supply are the varied and interesting bottle designs. Spirits are no longer just for drinking, they are also fun to collect and the packaging is often pretty enough that many people no longer want to hide their bottles away in a cupboard, but display them in their home as part of the décor.

But is keeping your bottle collection on a shelf the best way to care for your collection? How should they be stored to preserve colour, freshness and flavour?

How long will my spirits last?

As long as you don’t open the bottle, most spirits have a shelf life that spans many years. Spirits wont improve in the bottle in the same way that wine does so there’s no need to lay them down to age. As long as the seal is intact and the spirit hasn’t been exposed to air it should taste the same as the day you bought it even after several years have passed. Alcohol is after all, a natural preservative 🙂

If you have already opened the bottle then oxidation has begun. This means that the spirit’s flavour will very slowly impair over time. It’s best to try (difficult I know…) to use up your spirits within a year of opening them as this is when they will still be at their best. If you’re a very occasional drinker and often have several bottles on the go at once, it might be helpful to mark the date of opening on the bottle with a glass pen to help you keep track. A bottle that has been open more than a year won’t go off or be harmful but the quality and flavour will not be at it’s best after that length of time.

How should I store my bottles?

If you have the space, then it’s actually not a bad idea to keep clear spirits in the fridge or freezer. They wont freeze, as the ABV on spirits is too high, so don’t stress about exploding bottles. Your spirits will always be ready to serve and most people agree that serving spirits at very low temperatures makes them smoother to drink.

If you want to keep your bottles out of the fridge then that’s fine too, just try to keep them away from high temperatures. They might look lovely dotted along the top of your high kitchen cabinets but the extremes of heat up there may cause the contents of the bottles to oxidise. Ideally, you should be looking to store your bottles in a cool, dark, dry cupboard but, if you’d like to keep them out on display, in a glass fronted drinks cabinet for example, try to ensure it is facing away from direct sunlight. This is especially important for dark spirits such as rum or whisky as sunlight will bleach the colour. The storage shelves should also be kept away from sources of heat.

To keep the contents of your bottles in tiptop condition, always store corked spirit bottles upright, as prolonged contact with the cork can mean it starts to leech some of the cork flavour into the liquid. Rubber stoppers and screw cap bottles can be stored on their side if necessary. Make sure the bottles are sealed properly and caps are on tight to avoid oxidation or alcohol evaporation (the horror!!!).

If you follow these tips, it’s very unlikely that your spirits will go off. But if in doubt you’ll usually be able to diagnose any problems by having a quick look and sticking your nose in the bottle. There should not be any unusual sediment or particles floating in the liquid and if it smells unpleasant it might be time to pop in in the recycling and order something new and exciting from Bottle in a Box!