While generally, you can keep whiskey in the freezer, doing so will affect its aroma and flavor. As the temperature of the liquid drops, it will become thicker and release certain compounds that will take away from the whiskey taste.
If you want to save your favorite whiskey for as long as possible, read on to learn about how freezer storage will affect it and the best ways you can keep your beverage intact.
Should You Keep Whiskey in the Freezer?
Some liquids, like vodka, are regularly stored in the freezer. It keeps it chilled, which is great for a warm summer day. But this isn’t the case with all alcoholic drinks, especially whiskey.
Here are some of the reasons why you should avoid putting whiskey in the freezer:
- It negatively impacts the taste. The compounds released in the drink from freezing changes the taste of the liquor. Whiskey was designed to be drunk at room temperature or slightly chilled.
- It changes the aroma. The colder the whiskey, the more the nose is suppressed, so it won’t have the same strong aroma that you are used to.
- There’s a risk of bursting. Like soft drinks, whiskey will contain small air bubbles. The cold air will cause the mixture to expand. This means that there is a risk that it can split the glass. In some cases, whiskey in aluminum cans has even been known to explode.
- It separates the mixture. The water portion of the whiskey will freeze first, with the denser alcohol taking a little longer to turn solid. This is the reason why you might notice the bottle appearing to develop a sludge in the bottom. When it comes time to warm up the whiskey again, the water and the alcohol will need to recombine.
- It changes the drink’s texture. When the temperature of a liquid drops, the viscosity increases, meaning it gets thicker. A higher viscosity gives the liquid a softer feel in the mouth.
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Can Whiskey Freeze?
Beers, wines, and ciders have an ABV (Alcohol by volume) of around ten and can freeze relatively easily. But careful; when they freeze, they expand and can burst their containers!
Whiskey and other ‘hard-tack’ liquors have an ABV of around 40 and need much colder temperatures to freeze solid; however, whiskey will freeze at around -16.5 F (-27 C), below the reach of a commercial freezer (0 F or -18 C).
Despite this, you should be able to get it cold enough to freeze the water. Again, this is why you can see a sludge forming in the bottom of the bottle.
Some whiskies are partially frozen to around 21 F (-6 C) during manufacturing. The whiskey congeals, and some particles float and can be filtered out. These particles do take some flavor with them when they are removed, but clarity is important too.
Does Freezing Whiskey Extend its Shelf Life?
Freezing the whiskey won’t extend its shelf life. While freezing will stop oxidation, it will still degrade the flavors. Because of this, the best solution is to keep tabs on when you open the bottle and try to finish it within a few months.
How long your whiskey will last will depend on how much you have drunk. The less whiskey in the bottle, the more oxygen there will be. It is the oxidization process that causes the whiskey to lose its flavor.
In most cases, this will be a slow process. Here are some rough estimates you can use:
- Half a bottle should last between one to two years
- If it’s less than a quarter full, it will only last for six months.
After this period, the whiskey will still be safe to drink. But it won’t have the same flavors or aroma. If you haven’t opened the bottle, the oxidation process hasn’t yet started. Because of this, it can last forever.
Putting whiskey in the freezer isn’t a good option. But there are a few other ways to store your whiskey to help preserve the taste, aroma, and color.
- Whiskey doesn’t like sunlight; ultraviolet rays will degrade the color and the flavor. If possible, keep your collection in a dark cabinet, but definitely out of direct sunlight. A glass-fronted cabinet would show off the lovely warm amber colors the best.
- You’ll also need to consider the temperature of your storage place. Whiskey has the best flavor when kept at room temperature. Because of this, you should keep it away from ovens or other sources of artificial heat.
- Wine is stored on its side to keep the cork wet and prevent it from crumbling, but the same does not apply to whiskies. The alcohol content of whiskey can degrade the cork, so it is best to keep the bottle upright. However, if the bottle is not opened for long periods, you can occasionally tilt the bottle to wet the cork.
- Don’t decant your whisky. This would allow the aromatic volatile fatty acids to evaporate, reducing both flavor and aroma. Red wine needs to breathe for a while before being enjoyed, but whisky can be appreciated best without being allowed to breathe.
- Don’t open too many bottles at once. After a few months, oxygen will begin to degrade your collection. Once a bottle is nearly empty, finish it off quickly. Alternatively, you could pour a special favorite into a smaller bottle to reduce exposure to air.
Can You Drink Whiskey Cold?
How you serve your whiskey is entirely up to you. ‘On the rocks’ or ‘neat’ is a matter of taste and the subject of much debate. Ice will cool your whisky in warmer weather, but it will also change the flavor.
Some experts will tell you that a more ‘peaty’ whiskey is better suited to drinking on the rocks, as the dank scent of decomposing organic matter is mellowed by the ice.
Some people don’t like to add ice, as it can make the whiskey too watery. In this case, you might want to add stone blocks. These will keep your drink cool, but they won’t melt.
You can also choose to chill the whole bottle. You don’t need to freeze it to get it cold. Often, putting it in the fridge for ten minutes will be enough. It will be able to cool the whiskey down without impacting the aroma or taste.
Final Thoughts on Freezing Whiskey
There is no reason to freeze your whiskey. It will only be dampening the flavor and aroma.
Instead, it’s best to store it at room temperature and add some ice cubes when you serve. Or you can chill it for ten minutes in the fridge. Hopefully, these tips will allow you to store and serve your whiskey with confidence.