On the blogby Alfred
February 19 2019

A Never-ending Bottle of Whisky : How does it Work?

by Eric Van Hove

Written by Eric Van Hove – Passion Whisky Québec
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This concept is referred to as the “infinity bottle”, the “living bottle” or the “solera bottle”. The basis is quite simple: starting with an empty bottle, add one or two ounces of all the bottles of the whiskies tasted throughout the years.

The idea of creating a “solera bottle” or “infinity bottle” originates from a method used by certain producers (mostly for Spanish Sherry), which is to keep a part of the older alcohol to mix it with the most recent alcohol in each lot. By doing this, the taste of the new alcohol evolves with the presence of the older one, which in theory increases the richness and uniqueness of its tastes as it now in the presence of alcohol of 3 years, 10 years, 30 years … and even 50 years.

The Glenfiddich 15 years Solera is a scotch whisky offered at the SAQ that utilizes this technique. The Malt Masterof Glenfiddich explained in 2013 that this technique was introduced in 1998 to add more depth to their whisky of 15 years. It is therefore possible to say that there is a small portion of 35 years old whisky in the bottling of 2018

The idea is to create your own “solera bottle” at home. By doing this, you will obtain your very own blended whisky, a completely unique product with each ounce added. Don’t underestimate what a single ounce of whisky can create in terms of taste changes for your bottle… for better or worse!

Here are a few tips to avoid making mistakes while creating your infinity bottle.

Firstly, I would invite you to create more than a single bottle. If you are an American whisky, single malt or scotch fan, I would not recommend mixing these types of whiskies: in this case, simply create three different infinity bottles.

Then, you must decide if you want to include all the whiskies you will taste (without any exception) or only the bottles you enjoyed. In my opinion, try to include all the bottles for which you have a certain level of interest and leave out the ones that you truly did not enjoy. 

Up next, the question is: should I take the ounce of the bottle at the opening or at the end? If you are the type of person that keeps bottles for ten years, I would suggest taking the ounce out directly after the bottle is opened; this way, you will have in your infinity bottle a sample of the whisky with its original taste and not the taste of a whisky that suffered from oxidation for ten years.

Will you mix the different aging barrels/casks: Bourbon, Sherry, Sauternes, Porto, red wine? If you enjoy the whisky you taste, no matter the aging process, it warrants its place in your solera bottle. Each ounce added will complement the other tastes already present. Others will prefer to create a bottle with only whiskies aged in the same types of casks or barrels.

I would suggest waiting until the bottle is filled to at least 75% of its capacity before taking out an ounce to taste. This way, the different tastes of all the whiskies will have had enough time to blend and adapt to one another. 

Closing thoughts and tips: choose a glass bottle and avoid crystal (contains lead), choose a bottle with a cap that is as hermetic as possible to avoid oxidation and keep it away from the rays of the sun, the worst enemy of whisky. 

If you want to add to your experience and to live it to its fullest, rigorously keep notes, in a specific notebook for each infinity bottle, all the details you can remember: the name of the product, the alcohol rate, the aging process and the color of the whisky, the date that the ounce was added and the quantity. Also, write down a souvenir related to the whisky, the purchase location, etc. The more you note, the more the bottle will become worthy in your eyes and for your descendants.

Indeed, after 5, 25 or 50 years, you will be blessed with a bottle that will contain whiskies that no longer exist, whiskies that are now ten times pricier and whiskies that will bring back numerous souvenirs. In this case, why not create this very special bottle and keep it going from generation to generation?

Cheers!
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References: 
-Ralfy : https://youtu.be/YQnilg1TwtM
– Glenfiddich Solera explication du Malt Master : https://www.glenfiddich.com/ca/explore/expert-blog/2013/a-heritage-of-innovation-our-solera-vat/
– Santé Canada : https://www.canada.ca/fr/sante-canada/services/vie-saine/votre-sante-vous/produits/cristal-plomb-votre-sante.html

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