Ancient Isn’t Always Better: How Old is Too Old for Bottled Spirits?
Expensive alcoholic beverages are supposed to be one of the few things (like George Clooney or The Doctor ) that actually improve with age, but it turns out that even the finest spirits might have an expiration date. Hint: ancient isn’t always better, and that bottle of bourbon your dad waited two decades to drink with you on your twenty-first birthday might have gone south by the time you got your driver’s license.
According to Hillrock Estate Distillery’s master distiller Dave Pickerell, the ideal taste window for rye is at about nine to eleven years, bourbon is best after six to ten years, and scotch usually hits the sweet spot around twenty years. After that, all three spirits can go downhill in terms of flavor.
These aren’t hard and fast rules, of course (Pickerell points to Pappy Van Winkle as a delicious twenty-year-old bourbon) but for the average consumer it would be good to keep in mind that, in Pickerell’s opinion, “sometimes older is better — but sometimes it’s just older.” If you’re looking to buy a bottle of truly ancient alcohol but don’t want to worry about having missed the ideal flavor window, just pick up something that’s 80-proof. If it’s been stored in a cool and dry environment for the past few decades, it’ll keep pretty much indefinitely. Happy drinking!
H/T + PicThx Slate.com
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