...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Whisky PSA: Check yo samples before you wreck yo samples!

Achtung! And embrace the terrible title! This is a public service announcement for those who have a liquor sample collection.

I started my whisky sample stash about six years ago.  Less than two years into the bottle accumulation, I upgraded bottle caps.

The standard caps have a plastic ribbing and a foam or paper liner. When one first starts saving whisky samples, these seem perfectly okay. One may even choose to use electrical tape around the bottle neck to make sure the cap doesn't open.

When I upgraded caps, I switched to those with phenolic ribbing and the little polycone seal. These provide something much closer to an airtight fit. These are more expensive than the standard caps.

The thing is, though, I chose to use the better caps only on samples going forward. A year later, I decided to order a slew of extra caps to switch out the old ones. Then life happened, and I never did the big switchout.

I'm here to tell you that by not switching out the caps, I enabled a number of samples to spoil. The standard cap's cheap liner falls off within a couple of years, often adhering to the glass neck or crumbling into the whisky itself if the liquid is right up to the edge.

Even more troubling, the cap itself gradually buckles upwards. (You can actually see and feel this, as the top of the cap starts to get curved instead of flat.) Thanks to the buckling plastic and flimsy liner, the seal breaks and air comes in. Over five years, some of my samples experienced 1/3 to 2/3s evaporation. They're left with what I recently called a "swirling murk" throughout the liquid. The whisky loses most of its smell, while the palate goes flat, watery and nearly tasteless except for a really weird bitterness.

Luckily I lost only a half dozen samples to this issue. But all of them had caps that buckled on the top. This weekend, I replaced another fourteen caps on samples that showed no evaporation nor murk. Meanwhile, the little historical archive I started six years ago is probably mostly ruined. Can't bear to look at it right now.

If you have a whisky/brandy/rum/etc sample bottle collection going back more than three years, then I encourage you to check your bottle caps. If you've been using the standard tops, I recommend any option with a better seal. Swap out the old caps with better ones. Dump any sample that has experienced evaporation of 1/3 the bottle, or greater. I mean, you can sip it first to check its quality but then you've lowered its fill level and also contributed some bacteria to the mix.

In conclusion — never a great way to begin a conclusion — keep your samples sealed the best way you can. The extra ten or twenty cents per cap is worth it. (One method to buy extras is to add a bunch of additional caps to your next bottle order. I don't think Amazon sells the caps by themselves.)

ALSO, drink your whisky.

Thank you. This has been a Diving for Pearls public service announcement.

1 comment: