Here’s our quick step by step guide on how to check if a bottle is properly sealed.
First, before submitting a bottle to sell at auction the first thing to do is ask yourself the following question: if I open and then close this bottle, will the seal look any different? If the answer is no, it is likely we will probably reject it.
Secondly, if your bottle is properly sealed but you suspect the bottle has leaked in the past, we recommend you lay it down for half an hour and then stand it up again to see if it continues to leak. If the bottle does leak, it is likely we will reject it.
If your bottle doesn’t leak, we can accept it for sale at auction, and the previous leakage will be noted in the condition statement. This is so bidders know what they are bidding on. We also show the fill level of every bottle we sell at auction.
Finally, run through our quick guide on how to inspect a whisky bottle closure to see if the bottle is properly sealed.
Driven corks are more commonly used for sealing wine. They are used rarely in spirits bottles and are only really seen on very old bottles.
When the cork is exposed, as in the image, it is unlikely that we will accept the bottle. This is because we cannot be sure it is the original cork.
Screw caps come in all shapes and sizes, but the important thing is that the ‘teeth’ which connect the cap with the ring are unbroken.
It can be tricky to tell if the seal is broken, so use a magnifier if necessary.
If some of the teeth are broken and some are intact, it is possible we may be able to accept the bottle but it will be noted in the condition statement.
If the only seal is a paper strip on top of a cap (seen on US bottles pre-1950s, and 1970s Dimple, for example), this must be secure and intact with no signs of tampering.
Spring caps (officially known as Kork-n-Seal) were used in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, but existed from mid 1920s. Spring caps usually have a foil capsule over the top which should be secure and intact. Interestingly, spring caps were only used on Martell Cognac and brands owned by the Distillers Company Limited (which would later morph into Diageo).
Plastic Capsules and Foil Capsules
Regardless of closure type, many bottles have a plastic or foil capsule covering the cap or stopper.
This should always be intact, secure, and not too loose.
Damage or looseness doesn’t necessarily indicate tampering, but it may be rejected out of caution.
Some brands apply wax over their chosen closure type, most often wax is used over cork stoppers or driven corks.
The wax should be intact and the cork covered.
Italian Plastic Caps
These closures are tricky as it is often not possible to tell if the bottle has ever been opened.
Look for intact paper seal or a ‘linguetta’. If we are in any doubt, we will reject bottles with these closures.