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The question is good. The goal is simple. You have a stash of both opened and unopened bottles and you’d like to preserve them. Let me help you, because I care about your collection just as much as you do.
There are plenty of internet sites that take the time to delve into the discipline of preservation. They speak to esters, congeners, catalyzation, and volatility, and they do this with precision instructions based upon equations and compound formulas. While I certainly do not discount the scientists, I do question some of the conflicting results, reports, and practices that have arisen from within their ranks. I am appreciative of their writings, and sometimes even interested. Nevertheless, for me, the field called “whisky” has become more and more an experience in art, nay, the spiritual realm. It is something that is given to mankind from another sphere — revealed through the experience of those who would be caretakers of the divine. And so, the mandates that follow have been revealed, preserved in an ancient manuscript that we would know the truth. I believe they serve accordingly as wisdom from on high, given that our whiskies would enjoy long lives and would prosper in the land.
For those of you who struggle with the language, I have provided interpreter’s notes.
“My First Command — Thou shalt not be a braggart and store thy whisky collection before the eyes of man, either by the light made by hands or the heavenly light that governs the day. Each morning and evening thou shalt be free to consume the whisky at any hour given of the Lord, but thou shalt secure the whisky in its darkened keep until the gift is again required. Obey this word, lest the flavor be taken and the spirit lost to the ages.”
Interpreter’s Note: Keep your whisky out of natural and man-made light for any long period of time. Very bad chemical reactions will take place in the bottle that will ruin the flavor.
“My Second Command — Thou shalt not leave the whisky to rest in a chamber that receives unto itself both the cool of the night and the heat of the day. Only the cool breath of God amidst a dry cradle will serve to sanctify the sanctuary and preserve that which the holy place bears. Thus it is written, there is but one cool and constant season for thy whisky, lest the essence be seized and the glory clouded.”
Interpreter’s Note: Keep your bottles in a cool, dry place. Temperature fluctuations are a no-no. The result is the same as the previous note, except you can add to that the acceleration of evaporation due to the shrinking and expanding of the cork — at least that’s my guess from personal observations.
“My Third Command — Thou shalt not rest thy whisky within the chamber as one laid to rest in the grave. Behold! The water of life, it must only be found standing, lest the crown make haste toward rot by the rich glory within its belly. Thy whisky must avoid such sluggard unpreparedness, head lifted, being prepared to be raised to greet thy Lord at the great and glorious day.”
Interpreter’s Note: Do not store your bottles horizontally. The alcohol content is much higher than that of wine and will expedite the deterioration of the cork. Always, ALWAYS store your bottles upright!
“My Fourth Command — Remember the twelfth month and keep it holy. For eleven months the whisky may be among the brothers as one who stands, but in the twelfth month, it is required of all whiskies, both young and old, opened and unopened, to be lifted as feet to the heavens. For one minute, each whisky will baptize its crown, moistening and refreshing its cork ever briefly, that the diadem would be steadfast and the seal of the Lord would be unbroken. In that terrible day, you will hear men say, ‘Fear not! Do not turn your whisky. It shall only bring misfortune.’ To these false prophets I declare, ‘Shall you test me? Shall you pit the wisdom of man against the wisdom of the ages? Heed my voice and keep my command and your whisky shall live to the third and fourth generations.’ These commandments I give to you this day. Like them on Facebook. Tweet them to all generations. Herald to all in Pinterest the glad tidings.”
Interpreter’s Note: There is much controversy surrounding this particular rule, but as you can see here, I have a full manuscript while others only work from a partial or a copy. Thusly, let the viewer see from the exegesis of the original text, there is no debate. Orthodox whisky drinkers will turn according to the letter of the Law, which as it is written, is every twelve months. Of course many find it acceptable to turn them as little as once every few years or as much as once a month. These are the same folks you see in church every Christmas and Easter. Don’t follow them as examples. You may as well store the whisky on its side or put a hair dryer to it every day at noon. Once a year is plenty for moistening the cork. In between, the whisky itself will provide enough moisture to keep the cork preserved for a very long time.