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  #1  
Old 05-10-2010, 06:13 PM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is offline
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How can I tell how old a bottle of whiskey is?

I found a bottle of unopened Old Fitzgerald Original Sour Mash in my great aunt's house. I know nothing of whiskey, but since it was unopened I decided to take it. Since my great uncle, who died in 2000, was the one who drank.

So how can I tell if this bottle is any good, and how old it is. There is no alcohol warning on it, and it still has Maryland state liquor tax seal on it, something I don't think I've seen in years.

So if it's any good how should I drink it, I know little about whiskey and how long will it stay good after I've opened it.
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  #2  
Old 05-10-2010, 07:31 PM
ShibbOleth ShibbOleth is offline
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Not an expert, but I think it will pretty much stay good forever (or as long as a bottle of whiskey can last). Note that it's not getting any better with age in the bottle, so open it up and raise a toast to Old Grandad.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:33 PM
Joey P Joey P is online now
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It's still good, I wouldn't worry about that. If you really want to know how old it is email the distiller/bottler. I have a very old bottle of Maker's Mark, I emailed them with some pictures of the label. Once they read the label they gave me a date within about 5 years or so...I wish I had written it down.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:38 PM
ShibbOleth ShibbOleth is offline
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There should be a batch code / date code of some sort on the bottle that is required in case there is a need for product recall. If you contact the manufacturer with that then they should be able to tell you exactly how old it is.
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Old 05-10-2010, 08:21 PM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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I am known world-wide for my ability to tell how old whiskey is merely by tasting it once or twice. If you ship me the bottle, I will send back a certified(by me) certificate with the age of the whiskey inscribed.
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  #6  
Old 05-10-2010, 08:22 PM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
I am known world-wide for my ability to tell how old whiskey is merely by tasting it once or twice. If you ship me the bottle, I will send back a certified(by me) certificate with the age of the whiskey inscribed.
And the bottle of course will stay right?

Where would I find a batch number? There was only one number at that was on the MD state sticker. Oh and my uncle was known to keep alcohol for years, he had beer unopened from the 80s so this stuff could be from the 70s or 80s.

Last edited by Edward The Head; 05-10-2010 at 08:23 PM..
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  #7  
Old 05-10-2010, 08:35 PM
In Winnipeg In Winnipeg is offline
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Like everyone else said, it would depend on the label itself. It is amazing how often labels change; on the average, every five years or so.

If you were in Canada, the label would be right on the seal that goes over the cap, which is a legal requirement here.

Any pure alcohol should weather time okay as long as it is kept sealed.

After my mother died, I wound up with the contents of the liquor cabinet. There's nothing wrong with any of the rum or whiskey and we have drunk these with no ill effect; most of these bottles dated from the 80s.

There was one bottle of Castelvitro, an Italian sparkling red wine that had never been opened and had been stored standing up. It was dated 1988 and for the hell of it, we decided to try it. It wasn't so sparkling anymore, but had this interesting smoky flavour to it. When we got to the bottom of the bottle, we noticed there was about a half inch of sediment in it.
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Old 05-10-2010, 09:04 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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Do you have a photo of it online? From multiple angles, ideally?
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  #9  
Old 05-10-2010, 09:12 PM
fubbleskag fubbleskag is offline
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Originally Posted by Edward The Head View Post
How can I tell how old a bottle of whiskey is?
Send a photo to Dio - he can tell the age of anything just by looking at it.
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  #10  
Old 05-10-2010, 09:56 PM
Dallas Jones Dallas Jones is offline
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The important thing is to make sure the whiskey doesn't get any older. Find a few volunteers and see what you can do about that.
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  #11  
Old 05-10-2010, 10:30 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fubbleskag View Post
Send a photo to Dio - he can tell the age of anything just by looking at it.
Cute, but please confine your dispute with Diogenes the Cynic to the thread where it started, or else take it to the Pit.
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  #12  
Old 05-11-2010, 09:19 AM
FredGarven FredGarven is offline
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Since your uncle died in 2000 and he was the only one who drank, then I would say that bottle of whiskey is somewhere between 10 and 11 years old.

Mystery Solved!
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  #13  
Old 05-11-2010, 11:26 AM
Dr. Righteous Dr. Righteous is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward The Head View Post
So how can I tell if this bottle is any good, and how old it is. There is no alcohol warning on it, and it still has Maryland state liquor tax seal on it, something I don't think I've seen in years.

So if it's any good how should I drink it, I know little about whiskey and how long will it stay good after I've opened it.
It is definitely ok to drink - distilled spirits do not go bad, even once you open the bottle. All that might start to happen is it will eventually begin to evaporate (even from a sealed bottle - I once found a still sealed bottle of white label Dewars someone brought to a party years before and it was 1/3 gone). The only caveat I'd add here is any spirits that are cream based, like Limoncello Cream or Baileys can indeed spoil - but that's of course due to the dairy in it, not the liquor.

No idea on how to figure out how old it is, but as has already been noted it will not change further (in either a good or bad way) so there's no benefit in aging it in the bottle (like you might do with a wine).

As to how to drink it... I'll let the whiskey fans instruct you on that.
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  #14  
Old 05-12-2010, 11:17 PM
Oslo Ostragoth Oslo Ostragoth is offline
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You should consult a panel of experts. I'm available any time.
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  #15  
Old 05-13-2010, 04:21 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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Isn't it the fate of all organic compounds to break down to simpler substances over time, due to oxidation?
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  #16  
Old 05-13-2010, 04:34 AM
EvilTOJ EvilTOJ is offline
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Yes, but some oxidize slower than others. A LOT slower. There's also very little air in the bottle itself, and glass isn't permeable to oxygen.
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  #17  
Old 05-13-2010, 06:59 AM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FredGarven View Post
Since your uncle died in 2000 and he was the only one who drank, then I would say that bottle of whiskey is somewhere between 10 and 11 years old.

Mystery Solved!
Except there's no warning label, which from what I can gather started in the late 80s. The bottle is also full so no evaporation yet. I guess I'll have to break into it this weekend and see how good it still is.
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  #18  
Old 05-13-2010, 09:07 AM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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My wife's parents still have an unopened bottle of whiskey someone gave them as a wedding present over 50 years ago.
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  #19  
Old 05-13-2010, 12:58 PM
drastic_quench drastic_quench is offline
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Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
It's still good, I wouldn't worry about that. If you really want to know how old it is email the distiller/bottler. I have a very old bottle of Maker's Mark, I emailed them with some pictures of the label. Once they read the label they gave me a date within about 5 years or so...I wish I had written it down.
I can't believe it took them five years to come up with an answer!
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  #20  
Old 05-13-2010, 01:23 PM
Gagundathar Gagundathar is offline
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Originally Posted by Edward The Head View Post
Except there's no warning label, which from what I can gather started in the late 80s. The bottle is also full so no evaporation yet. I guess I'll have to break into it this weekend and see how good it still is.
November 1989 to be precise.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol...e_Labeling_Act
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  #21  
Old 05-13-2010, 01:43 PM
Paul in Qatar Paul in Qatar is offline
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Short of expensive testing, you can't. Some police group in Europe (the British Serious Crimes Office?) used DNA or some darn thing to discover the vast majority of very old wine on the market is faked.
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  #22  
Old 05-13-2010, 01:48 PM
Darth Sensitive Darth Sensitive is offline
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I saw something like that - radiation samples from atmospheric nuclear testing has a signature that can be backdated and shows that something was bottled sooner than a certain date.
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  #23  
Old 05-26-2010, 07:58 AM
tb38 tb38 is offline
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Old Fitz bottle

I'm sure it's plenty good and can be dated very easily.
Metric or non metric?
UPC code or no?
Fake tax strip or real sealing the top?

The mention of no gov't warning means that it is pre 1990.

Enjoy! That's one of my favorites.
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  #24  
Old 05-31-2010, 06:28 PM
TPWombat TPWombat is offline
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So how was it?
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