I have never kept whiskey in the freezer, but have heard this is something that people do. I wondered what would be the best way to store, and if there were any benefits. I hopped online and did some research to find out whether whiskey should be refrigerated or kept in the freezer.
There is no benefit to storing your whiskey in a fridge or freezer as it is not going to go bad. The cold temperature will mute notes on the nose, affecting the flavor of the whiskey. After pouring you will have to wait a couple of minutes as whiskey is best served at room temperature.
If you are aware of the effects that cooling has on whiskey, it might be something you can consider for certain whiskeys. In the rest of the article I will briefly explain what you need to know about storing whiskey in the fridge or freezer.
Why you can choose to refrigerate your whiskey
I am happy to tell you that keeping your whiskey in a fridge or freezer will not make the alcoholic drink turn bad.
However, I would still not recommend it. Whiskey, and especially good whiskey, has a complex set of flavors that make the drink so enjoyable to us. Whenever you buy an aged single malt, you essentially buy it for its unique set of aromas that make the whiskey interesting. These flavors are best experienced at room temperature.
Now I am not saying you can not drink your whiskey cool, if that is what you like go ahead.
The colder temperature will mute a big part of the flavor of any whiskey. This is because a warmer spirit will release more volatiles, which are chemicals that easily evaporate such as alcohol. When you cool the whisky, it will not release as much of the smell compared to room temp.
Like with all food and drinks, the way we experience the aromas and flavor of the whiskey is heavily depending on its smell. Whenever you store your whiskey in a fridge or freezer, you will first have to wait a while before the whiskey has warmed back up to room temperature to fully experience its flavor.
There are many people who prefer their whiskey below room temperature, and for those people I see no problem with storing their whiskey in a fridge. Just beware that a cold drink has heavily muted flavors that you will not be able to taste.
I would even encourage cooling your whiskey in a fridge over adding ice to your whiskey to cool it. Adding ice will also dilute your whiskey at the same time. While we have already established this is not as bad as it sounds in a previous article, one can also use water to slightly dilute the whiskey to allow it to open up.
Can whiskey freeze when stored in the freezer?
A regular commercial freezer that we all have in our house is not able to freeze whiskey. Most whiskeys contain 40% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) or higher, which would take -26 ?C or -12 ?F to freeze. Regular freezers can not freeze an 80 proof liquid.
A higher proof whiskey is even harder to freeze.
Where and how to properly store whiskey
If you do not particularly like your drink at fridge temperature, it is best to store your whiskey at room temp. Whenever you feel like drinking a dram the whiskey will be ready to go straight from pouring. But what are the ideal storage parameters.
First of all, the flavor of the whiskey has three enemies. Air, light and temperature fluctuations. It therefore is best to store your whiskey at a dark place (in the cardboard box, a liquor cabinet or a cellar if you have one are perfect). The light of the whiskey reduces the color and changes the texture. If you want to know more about storing your whiskey in the dark, you can read my article I have written previously.
Next to darkness, the whiskey should be stored in a temperature stable environment. Just below room temperature is preferred, but nothing close to fridge temperature. If you store your whiskey in a climate controlled room away from direct sunlight you are good to go.
Finally, let’s talk about how air affects the taste of the whiskey. When the whiskey is exposed to air, it oxidises. Many people have reported that they notice a significant change in flavor after the whiskey has been exposed to air for a longer period of time. But where does the whiskey come into contact with air? That is right, in the bottle itself.
Whenever you have been enjoying your whiskey the amount of air that remains in a bottle (the overhead air) increases. It is recommended to pour the remaining whiskey from an almost empty bottle into another container if you are not planning on drinking it anytime soon. If you drink a bottle within a year after opening you are good to go. You can read more on keeping your whiskey from going bad in a detailed article I have written a while ago called “Can Whiskey Go Bad“.
Should whiskey be served chilled?
Whenever you are drinking whiskey for the first time you might be wondering whether whiskey should be served cold or chilled. The short answer to this is that there are no set rules concerning how to drink whiskey. It is your whiskey, and you should find out how you like to drink it.
However, it is best to try the whiskey at room temperature first. The aromas and flavors of the whiskey will be the most prominent. Most whiskeys have an extensive set of complex flavors. While it can be hard to identify all of the different flavors in whiskey, but you will get better at that over time.
Drinking whiskey that has been kept in the fridge will be way colder than room temperature. This will muffle and mute a big part of the flavors. There are a lot of people who store a bottle of vodka in the fridge, to make the drink more refreshing. With vodka, there is little taste to loose. And let’s be real, how many people really drink vodka for its taste. Therefore, keeping vodka in the fridge is a logical choice.