Just found four 20+ year old bottles of scotch and want to figure out true age...

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Kevin M, Jan 5, 2004.

  1. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    My girlfriend's Aunt is moving into a retirement community and I went over to help move, her long deceased husband had a bar in the basement and behind it we found four bottles of sealed whiskey including Johnny Walker Red - Cutty Sark - Jim Beam & Jack Daniel's, she gave them to me. [​IMG]
    He died in 1987 so they are at least 16 years old but I have no idea how long he had them as she claimed he quit drinking in 82...is there a way to find out just how old these bottles are using the serial numbers?

    * EDIT I thought he had a bottle of Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey but that was her brothers in her icebox, it is actually Jim Beam and it is the dustiest of the four.
     
  2. Andrew W

    Andrew W Supporting Actor

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    Bear in mind that although it is old, it is not aged.

    Aging only takes place in the oak cask and pretty much stops as soon as the whiskey is bottled.
     
  3. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    I never said it was, nonetheless in my personal experience most grain alcohol that sits for a good period will strengthen with time. I know this because, for example, I have drank a rather easily obtained domestic vodka (Smirnoff) that was kept un-opened in a cabinet for roughly 15 years and oak aged or not it's added potency (compared to a more recent bottling) was noticed by all who drank it...but that isn't the question I was posing, I simply want to know how I can find out exactly when these were bottled.
     
  4. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Can't you ebay dem joints?
     
  5. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    My thoughts exactly, but I want to know the age first before I do.
     
  6. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Don't know how true this is, but I was told by someone who'd found 20+ year old bottle of whiskey that it certainly seemed to have improved (in the bottle) as compared to the "regular" contemporary stuff.
     
  7. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    I'm sure my tastebuds are up to the task of checking the date for you. Of course, I can't guarantee 100% accuracy without a fair bit of tasting.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    I had a friend talk about this just a few weeks ago -- there was a sort of paper seal across the cap of the bottle, with a serial number on it. He said the last two digits were the year it was bottled. Looking at those numbers on your bottles, would that make sense?
     
  9. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    Hmm, if that were true then the JW-Red would be from 47, the Cutty Sark would be from 68, the JD would be from 93 & the JB would be from 99...both the last ones being after he died so....proof of "life" after death?
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Trey Fletcher

    Trey Fletcher Second Unit

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    Admittedly I'm nitpicking, but just to clarify, you have two bottles of Scotch Whisky, one bottle of Bourbon, and one bottle of Tennessee Whiskey.

    The paper seals are no longer in use so I'm not versed in their meaning but Todd could very well be right. Perhaps a phone call or letter to the distilleries in question could provide you with the answers? If they don't have the records of the serial numbers in question, maybe they can help you decipher them?

    Edit: Okay, so Todd is not right. "Proof" of "life" after death. [​IMG]
     
  11. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    Yeah, I knew there was a difference but to be honest I didn't want to bog down the topic header any more than it already was. And BTW all of the bottles have the paper seals.
     
  12. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    So I'm (nor my friend) not right at all? Even ones with paper seals don't give you the year in the last two digits?

    If so I'll be very happy to tell my buddy he's a moron.
     
  13. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    Kevin - send them to me, I'll verify the ages for you [​IMG]

    Other than Cutty Sark, I'm pretty sure Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, and other mainstream whiskeys don't improve that much with age. Scottish single malts are truly made to be saved/savored, Jack is intended to be consumed quickly and in quantity. So the processes of making them are different and I suspect Jack isn't intended to be aged. Probably still good to drink and maybe a little smoother after time, but nothing to shout home about. I suggest you drink one and find out...

    Fun story - When I went to England I bought a $100 bottle of whiskey in Scotland for my dad, aged maybe 20 years? Little bottle about the size of half a fifth of whiskey with a cork top. This was amazing stuff, you would remove the cork and let the bottle sit for about 30 minutes before drinking. The smell of whiskey would permeate every room in his 3000 sq foot house. Absolutely the best whiskey I've ever had, really sublime.
     
  14. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    Well Todd I don't know for sure to be honest but I don't think the Johnny Walker Red is as old as 1947 nor do I think The Cutty Sark is as old as I am (I was Born in 1968) and I am certain that my girlfriend's aunt didn't buy any Jack Daniels or Jim Beam well after her husband died, she is no drinker by any stretch, so I don't know if perhaps your friend has the location of the year numbers in the serial code mixed up or what....but believe me I would be delighted if I did have some JW-Red from 47 & CS from 68!
     
  15. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    Damn it, I have called several retailers and national distributors and none seem to be able (or willing?) to help me....you would think there would at least be a Liquor collectors web site that could help me out but after hours of googleing I still can't find what I am looking for.....grrrrr.

    BTW, in regards to Andrew W & Joe Szott statements of liquor not mellowing in bottles these people I talked to verified this fact....I don't know what to say except that in my experience it does get more potent with age but not according to the experts.
     
  16. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    Kevin - It probably changes taste, but not potency. If it was still fermenting in the bottle (producing more alcohol), the bottle would fill with gas and burst. Also, I think all spirits and whiskey/boubon is distilled right? So any bacteria to produce alcohol from sugar is long dead by the bottling time.

    I don't know much about making or aging whiskeys, so don't take my word for it. Advice is free and you get what you pay for every time [​IMG]
     
  17. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    In addition, the alcohol levels in spirits are so high that they would kill any yeasts that could convert sugar to alcohol.

    The other way that the percentage of alcohol would go up, would be for some of the non-alcohol liquid (i.e. water) to evaporate, while the alcohol did not evaporate. For this to occur, the bottle seal would have to be broken and water would have to be more volatile than alcohol (which it is not).

    Basically, spirits do not improve with age (age after bottling, that is) nor do older bottles become more valuable (except for collectors of particular items—where the value of the item is the package and its age (the bottle), not the contents of the package (the spirits).
     
  18. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    Well irregardless I think I figured it out and Todd, your friend was right but in the wrong place, on the bottom of the bottle is a "Juilen date" (as many know it is a basic world wide dating system) and the last two numbers on this code are the year (or it can have month/day/year or day/month/year etc.)

    ...anyway what I have is a Jack Daniels black label from 1978, a Johnny Walker Red label from 1978, a Cutty Sark from 1980 and a Jim Beam from 1984.
     
  19. BrianMagog

    BrianMagog Stunt Coordinator

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    Interesting, I'll have to check an old bottle of Pinch I aquired from my grandfather's estate.
     
  20. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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