Opening a 40 Year Old Bottle of Drambuie

Drambuie: Then and Now

Leave it to me to go to an estate sale and come home with a bottle of booze. It was hidden behind the opened front door as I walked into the house. A case of old liquor, including a few brands I had never heard of. And there it was: a bottle of Drambuie from the 1970’s. It appeared to be unopened. The seal was still on and the wrapper over the cap had not been removed. When I inquired about the price, I was told it was $10. Sold. I figured it was a low-risk situation. If it ended up being bad, then I would at least have a cool bottle to add to my collection. Buying old liquor is tough. I’m not into wine, but we all know how bottles need to be kept at a certain temperature and laying on their side in order to preserve freshness and keep the cork from disintegrating. As for something like Drambuie, I just had to hope that no air had leaked in. Nothing is truly air-tight, especially after decades.

Last night was the moment of truth. Would it have just lost a little bit of its flavor, or turn syrupy and sour? I figured the cap would have a cork stopper, which presented a small problem. Sure enough, I was right. When I removed the seal and pulled the cap off, there was a loud popping sound before the cork broke in half and fell into the bottle. The pop was a good sign: it meant no air had contaminated it. The cork is something I had to wrestle with…literally. I poured the Drambuie out through a sifter into an empty bottle and then after a few tries, managed to insert a knife into the decades-old bottle to pulverize the cork until it fell out. Thankfully, it did not break apart before I emptied it out.

I then washed out the bottle and poured the liquor back in through a sifter again. After a bit of work, it was in fact drinkable. I took a sip and discovered, yes, it had lot a little bit of flavor but it was not sour. The sweetness had gone soft but you could just taste the age with it. I can’t say it was exceptionally enjoyable, but it was an interesting experience.



  1. I’m going to open a bottle tonight that is probably from the 70s. It’s unopened came from my parents bar which they hardly ever drank. I do remember them having fondue parties in the 70s wish me luck I hope it’s not nasty. I’m strictly a Canadian blended whiskey drinker.


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