Really Old Canadian Club (1973)
Okay, so while I enjoy whisky and scotch, I don't know as much about the subjects as I'd like. I have an old bottle of Canadian Club whisky that I inherited from my Grandma's (RIP) collection of very old things that probably aren't very good.
Does anyone think that my bottle of 1973 whisky will be any good, or is it a cheap whisky to begin with? It was already aged 6 years, so the dang thing is 41 years old!!!
Anyone? I'm almost scared to open it, considering how old it is. It is 86.8 proof. It may not be any good, but considering it's age, it will be fun to drink. :)
Is it still unopened? If so, it will almost certainly still be drinkable, and I would imagine decent tasting. If you plan on drinking it, I'd suggest getting a new bottle of Canadian Club and seeing what the difference is. Many claim that older liquors have different recipes and often superior tastes. You can be the judge of that.
In short, nothing to be afraid of, tell us how it is.
If the bottle has been unopened it is fine. It is still only a 6 year aged whiskey. The time in the bottle doesn't add to the maturation of the spirit. There is nothing in the unopened bottle to change the spirit. It's a sealed, sterile, environment without anything new being introduced. It's only the time in wood that ages and matures the spirit.
That said, if the bottle was opened, there may have been a small amount of evaporation of the spirit, which could make it richer or weaker depending upon the temperature and whether it was alcohol or water that evaporated.
Also with an open bottle, because of the presence of more air, there is some very slight oxidation. As opposed to in wine, in spirits this is a good thing and can make a rough spirit smoother.
But has no effect on a spirit that was already smoothed out. Most spirits have resting time before putting in barrels where the spirit is pumped into tanks or gets exposed to air, then in the first month or so this air helps to smooth out the spirit. After that it doesn't cause much more effect, unless the barrels have a large headspace, then the spirit seems to age a bit faster, especially with agitation. This seems to be more of the changing contact time with the wood in the barrel.
As Xaga said, get a new bottle of the same whiskey and do a side by side comparison. What you will probably notice is that the older whiskey will taste different, probably better. The quality and prepariton of the wood for the barrels was much better in the past, also whiskeys are being hurried to market these days and get less maturation.
To my colleagues above, I think there will be a pronounced difference. By virtue of a cork stopper, there will be evaporation. Just weeks ago, I opened a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black with a Pennsylvania tax stamp (i.e. before 1976) and it was flabby at best. Attempts to save and share sips of my one bottle of Macallan 25 with only my best of friends came to an end when I realized that, after 14 years, it tasted more like alcohol-soaked excelsior than fine Scotch.
A friend of mine has two unopened bottles of pre-WWII Chartreuse (one green, one gold) that are about 1/5 evaporated. I can't think these will be any better than freshly bottled, although they are likely highly collectible on Ebay..
My dad was an organic chemist and, in remote memory, I remember something about esters changing into keytones. Orgo majors, chime in.
But do the taste comparison with a fresh bottle - now standardized at 80 proof. You'll know what happens to old alcohol in glass and still have a fresh drinkable one on the side for later.