Plastic and screw cap are only used and considered because they are cheaper. Not at all because they are better.
Cork forests support wild life, a way of living and a traditional industry.
There are different types of cork stoppers made ~ quality ones hand cut from single pieces of bark, composite corks made from broken pieces of cork – like wooden floor boards compared to composite flooring.
Here are two good visual article showing how cork is harvested and created.
Most Whisky bottle stoppers are a variety of “technical” corks with plastic or metal or composite stoppers on one end.
Why a lot of whisky bottle cork stoppers break is not because cork is bad and screw top is good, but because the cork stoppers are made from composite cork for economic cheapness. Sometimes the glue holding the cork pieces together may not be the best, and dries out over time. Sometimes the cork pieces used in the make up of the stopper is very poor quality…
Also, central heating in most people’s houses dries out corks – if you have a bottle open for a long time, then the cork will dry out. Air conditioning dries the cork out.
It’s the same as using an air dryer to dry out wood for casks, compared to letting the wood dry naturally. Air conditioning and central heating create atmospheres that dry out corks.
Cork is a natural material. It is like skin. Our skin dries in manufactured environments. So, does cork.
Also, if you think you have found a good bottle in some weird wee shop somewhere and you take it home and when you open it, the cork breaks – there are myriad reasons for this. Often the whisky will have been stored somewhere too hot. Not enough humidity in the air. The bottle may have been in the window. Also, bottles lying around in transit – strange stuffy environments for too long.
If you faff about with your bottles of whisky, injecting argon gas and etc in an attempt to store them longer, then all these things affect cork stoppers.
Cork is one of the best, more natural, and if properly harvested and manufactured, sustainable materials, we can use for stoppering our whisky bottles.
If you are finding the cork breaks in your whisky bottle – think about the context – and before you blame cork as not working correctly, examine the actual stopper, see the way it is made, think about how you live in your environment, where you bought your bottle….
and most importantly.. ask yourself, why on earth you are keeping opened whisky bottles for so long….. ??