Saving 100 Year Old Bottles of Bourbon

Have an old/rare bottle you'd like some more info on?

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Saving 100 Year Old Bottles of Bourbon

Unread postby qbrules » Fri Jun 25, 2010 11:51 am

I just bought 3 old James E. Pepper bottles - distilled 1914. The UPS guy paid no attention to the multiple, large, bright signs saying 'this side up', and delivered the package on its side - they probably spent 3 days like that. All 3 bottles have the majority of the contents, however the corks and tax strips are extremely old and degenerated. As the bottles were shipped on their sides, the corks (or whats left of them), which have probably been dry w/ the bottles upright for many years, are now 'wet'. Nothing spilled out during the shipping, but they corks are wet / saturated almost to the top. I am nervous that this will cause rapid degeneration of the corks and then evaporation of the whiskey. I am not sure if I should leave things alone, or be proactive and look for other ways to re-enforce the seal / cork. Would it be a sin / stupid to cover the tops in wax? All that is between the whiskey and the air is some 100 year old corks that were bone dry, extremely degenerated, and have now been saturated with whiskey. I plan on saving these for many years. Any thoughts would be appreciated - thanks.
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Re: Saving 100 Year Old Bottles of Bourbon

Unread postby Bourbon HQ » Fri Jun 25, 2010 12:13 pm


I believe I would replace the corks with new corks.

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Re: Saving 100 Year Old Bottles of Bourbon

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Jun 25, 2010 12:40 pm

As long as there was no sign of leaks, I would simply store them cork up and watch them for further deteriation. If they look to be evaporating, change the cork. If you are looking at the bottles as an investment, then you are better off with the original cork.
Mike Veach
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Re: Saving 100 Year Old Bottles of Bourbon

Unread postby qbrules » Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:42 pm

thanks for the feedback - i would like to hold them as investments / collectibles. Another person recommended that I replace the corks, but I am not sure if that will decant or oxidize this 100 year old bourbon by exposing it to air. Maybe putting some clear, shrink wrap PVC neck seals on and hot air shrinking them would be good. That may help with evaporation and at the same time it comes right off, unlike wax, and it preserves the original corks.
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Re: Saving 100 Year Old Bottles of Bourbon

Unread postby cowdery » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:46 am

The stuff normally used is called, I think, paraffin film. Maybe that's wrong, but it's all I've got. Because this stuff only sticks to itself, it seals the bottle but won't damage any existing cap, cork, neck label, or tax strip.
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Re: Saving 100 Year Old Bottles of Bourbon

Unread postby Bourbon Joe » Wed Jul 28, 2010 8:02 am

Yes Chuck, it is marketed as "Parafilm" and works extremely well.
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