Does Whiskey Age in the Bottle? Our Guide to Whiskey Ageing

So how does whiskey age and does whiskey continue to age in the bottle? We’re here to debunk the myths and tell you how whiskey ages in a barrel, not the bottle, and why ‘the older the whiskey the better the taste’ line isn’t true, it’s more a case of personal preference. Mind blown.


The age-old whiskey question is always about the meaning of a whiskey’s age. These are questions we get asked all the time on social media and our Jameson Bow St. Distillery tour, so we thought we’d share our insight here so you can always come back to it—because we get it, whiskey maturation and the whiskey ageing process can be complicated. So here are the facts, straight from the Jameson Irish Whiskey source.

How Does Whiskey Age?

To fully understand how does whiskey change with age and also why is whiskey aged, we’ll share a little bit about our craft and the approach we at Jameson take to ageing whiskey. Jameson Irish Whiskey is made by blending rich pot still whiskey made from both malted and unmalted barley, with the finest grain whiskey, both distilled three times for smoothness—but before we can blend these whiskeys and call them Jameson Irish Whiskey, the spirit (whiskey before it goes through the whiskey ageing process), must be aged in barrels.


Why is whiskey aged in barrels you might ask, and more importantly, how does whiskey age in the barrel? Because these barrels contain seasonings, flavours and aromas which are pulled from the wood into the liquid over time during the whiskey maturation process to give us that distinct whiskey flavour. Cool, huh?


But, why is whiskey aged? The barrel is crucial for whiskey to emphasise the flavour you’re after, and it’s a crucial part of the whiskey ageing process. It’s such an interesting one, it . You can head over to How Jameson Irish Whiskey is Made if you’re after more specifics of Jameson.


How Long to Age Whiskey?

So how long does whiskey have to age? You might think it’s a ‘how long is a piece of string’ situation, but when it comes to Irish whiskey specifically, there’s a set rule that Irish whiskey has a minimum maturation age requirement of three years. When it comes to the Jameson whiskey age statement, how long does it take to age whiskey? We’re biased, and we’d have to say that four years is the perfect number for us. Just like we found our sweet spot with triple distillation, four years was the perfect time for our whiskey to go through the whiskey maturation process before it was blended, bottled and sold in all its signature smoothness. Some whiskey distilleries will feature age statements on their label like a badge of honour, which is helpful when you want to experiment and know what you like—but remember, it’s the reaction that takes place with specific barrels, not just the age, that makes the biggest impact.

Will Whiskey Age in the Bottle After Buying it?

Any of you wine aficionados out there might think that whiskey follows the same path, but as we mentioned earlier, the importance of ageing whiskey is all about the barrel it’s matured in. Once our whiskey is bottled, that marks the end of the ageing process, no matter how long it’s kept safe and sound in a cabinet or on a shelf. So, you know those bottles that have been knocking around that you’re saving ‘just in case’? We’re sorry to tell you that there’s no ageing happening there—so unless they have sentimental value or you’re holding them for a special occasion, you might as well grab a few mates, pop the whiskey open and enjoy.

Does Whiskey Improve with Age?

Another big question we hear all the time is ‘does whiskey improve with age’, and with this one we totally understand the confusion. Some believe that the older the age statement (the length of time the whiskey has matured in a barrel) the better the whiskey is, but this is simply not true for everyone. Quality and age aren’t interlinked.


As we mentioned before, for a whiskey to have flavour development and improve in taste and aroma, it needs to be aged in a barrel. The whiskey maturation process is all about the liquid inside pulling the flavours and notes from the barrel it lies inside. Now, there’s a point to be made that the longer the liquid lies the better it will taste, but this is a fine art honed by our Master Distiller Kevin O’Gorman, who has spent his career understanding when a whiskey can no longer pull the right flavours from a barrel or when another type of barrel might be introduced. This is where things can get complicated, so we’ll leave that story for when you visit us at Bow St. Distillery.


Simply put, some may say whiskey improves when it’s aged in a barrel for many years, and others appreciate that a great whiskey doesn’t need a high age statement to be the best of the bunch.

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Can Whiskey Expire?

The age old question: can whiskey expire? The answer is, it depends. A whiskey that is sealed and stored correctly can last forever, but once the seal is broken that’s another story. This expiration is due to a number of factors like exposure to air, sunlight and extreme temperatures which can alter the flavour of your favourite whiskey.


So make sure to keep an eye on those unopened bottles lying around, keep them in a cool dry place, ensure seals are secure, and you have no clumsy mates around to knock them over.


Now that you can bust whiskey maturation and ageing myths and speak to the time required for ageing an Irish whiskey, are you ready to explore the tasting effects of our mastered approach to whiskey ageing? Try Jameson Irish Whiskey or to delve deeper into the world of whiskey and check out our Whiskey Guide.