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Does Alcohol Expire Once Its Been Opened?

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#1 Darla


Posted 10 April 2010 - 08:10 PM

Does Alcohol Expire Once Its Been Opened?

Article by chesanekc (4,776 pts )

Do you have some opened alcohol bottles that you're concerned may not be as good as they use to be? Many types of alcohol ages badly, however some don't age and some even age for the better. Keep reading to find out which alcohol stays the best when opened.

Does Alcohol Go Bad?

Do you still have opened alcohol from your Christmas party sitting on your kitchen counter or at your bar? You may not want to get rid of it just yet. Although it is old, it may not be as bad as you might think. While some alcohol can get worse as it ages, others can get better or at least stay the same. So the question is, does opened alcohol go bad?
Normally, you can keep hard liquor for a long time if it has never been opened because the ingredients in these types of alcohol do not age poorly. However, what about if the liquor is opened? Will it still important taste[ the same? Some liquor that has flavored mixes in them will age, and not well because of the sugars that are added. These types of mixes will not be good once opened and stored for a period of time, no matter where you store them.
However, straight up alcohol, such as vodka, usually ages over time, but doesn’t age for better or for worse. Once it is opened, it can usually still be used for a long period of time afterwards. So if you have a large bottle of vodka from your party five months ago, you can most likely still use it today, and have it taste good.

Guideline for Shelf Life

Here is a simple guideline for the shelf life of different types of alcohol:
Cream based liquors - these types of liquors can curdle from the heat, so normally do not last very long after being opened. You should always check to see if your Bailey's has curdled before drinking it and usually you should toss it out a few months after being opened and unused.
Bourbon - Since it has so much alcohol in it, normally you can keep it for years even if it has been opened. Normally the spirits that are pure alcohol can all stay in your cabinet for many years without going bad.
Rum, Scotch, Whiskey, and Vodka - These all have a long shelf life because of the high alcohol content in them. They will be even better if they are left unopened, but normally you can keep these for a few years once opened.
Wine - Once wine is opened; it is best to keep it for at most a week. Wine ages gracefully, however not once it is opened. It will have a very stale taste once it hits the one week mark, so it is best to toss it then.
Beer-You normally want to drink it before it gets warm, which means once you open it you generally want to drink it within a couple hours. So toss the can of beer that you didn't finish last night.

A thing to always keep in mind is that the liquor with the higher alcohol content will have a longer shelf life because it doesn't have a lot of other ingredients that will cause it to go bad such as grapes, sugar, hops and cream. So the type of alcohol will determine whether or not it will go bad overtime once it has been opened. However, you should always remember the best way to keep your alcohol from going bad is to store it in a cool and stable place. Instead of moving your bottles around, keep them confined to one place and make sure they are not directly in the light.


Was doing some research for home. Got rid of some of the really old stuff. Who the hell gave Sherry anyway? No one really drinks that stuff.

#2 magosienne


Posted 10 April 2010 - 09:24 PM

Good post Darla !

It makes sense, alcohol preserves. My family likes a good beer so we treat it with the respect it deserves and if we fear we may not drink it all, we open one bottle instead of two.

You can also a pump instead of the bottle's cap to keep your bottle of wine longer.

I think the most fragile remain cider and champagne, because of the bubbles, you can keep it for the next day (i think you can buy special caps as well), but longer than that, i wouldn't risk it. So it's best to keep champagne for family reunions.

#3 internetchick


Posted 10 April 2010 - 09:30 PM

I never considered it going bad. If there's some left I will drink it without a second thought lol.

#4 piegirl


Posted 11 April 2010 - 12:22 AM

This is educational, though I rarely drink xD
"I mean to rule the earth as he the sky; we really know our worth, the sun and I." - The Mikado

#5 Darla


Posted 11 April 2010 - 12:31 AM

I probably couldn't taste the difference in a lot of these cases if the alcohol was really old, not being much of a drinker.

I even mixed three types of scotch together to consolidate them and eliminate a couple of bottles. That's probably the one i could give to my freakin' brother in law who favors 30 year old Glenlivet scotch. haha probably couldn't even tell.

#6 piegirl


Posted 11 April 2010 - 12:36 AM

I wouldn't be able to tell. I'd be off in La-La-Land since I'm such a light weight.
"I mean to rule the earth as he the sky; we really know our worth, the sun and I." - The Mikado

#7 lolaB


Posted 11 April 2010 - 02:49 AM

Cool post! I've never thought about expiry dates of liquors. I guess because there's usually little to none left by the end of the night lol.

#8 akira53


Posted 11 April 2010 - 04:39 AM

I never thought alcohol had an expiration date...thanks! this is good to know.

#9 jodevizes


Posted 11 April 2010 - 09:39 PM

If you have sherry or port you should treat it like regular wine, even though it's fortified. Once opened, they should be drunk within two weeks. That is why, when you go around to Grannys for Christmas and she gets out the 'Sherry' that hasn't been drunk since last Christmas, it tastes like rubbish.

Thanks for the info on the cream liqueur, I am not a Baileys girl but I've got this incredible Chestnut cream liqueur that I am going to have drink right now.

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