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All Your Questions Answered on Alcohol Expiration

Last Updated on May 12, 2022

Many people believe that the older alcohol, the better the taste. However, others get tempted to throw away those old bottles in their liquor cabinet. What's the right thing to do?

With so many different alcohol types, it can be confusing. Most liquors have a specific shelf life that you need to keep track of. Therefore, there is no 'one size fits all answer.

One thing that most alcohols do have in common is that the shelf life starts to decrease once you open the bottle.

Let's get into everything you need to know about expired alcohol.

Does Alcohol Go Bad?

Yes, alcohol can go bad. More specifically, opened bottles of liquor can go bad. This is often noticeable as the beverage loses its flavor and color. An opened bottle lasts approximately one year or two before you start noticing this. However, keep in mind that alcohol does not become toxic.

Fortunately, unopened bottles of liquor have an indefinite shelf life.

Ultimately, you need to use logic. If the alcohol doesn't look good, toss it. It's crucial to evaluate your alcohol to see whether it has expired or not.

Why Does Alcohol Expire?

Alcohol expires because of three factors: temperature, light, and air.

Changes in temperature can degrade terpene (organic molecules), which affects the flavor of the liquor. In terms of light, when alcohol is exposed to light over longer periods, it loses its flavor. Lastly, exposure to air results in oxidation which also affects the flavor.

If you store hard liquor out of direct sunlight and at moderate temperature, it has an indefinite shelf life. Keeping it at around 30-40% is a good idea because this isn't a welcoming space for bacteria. Furthermore, if the bottle is unopened, essentially no oxidation will occur.

As soon as you open the bottle, oxidation starts. This is why many hard liquors go bad after a few years. In this instance, 'go bad' doesn't necessarily mean you can't drink it. In fact, you can; however, the oxidation degrades certain flavor qualities to such an extent that you shouldn't drink it. Nevertheless, it's not toxic if you do.

While we don't encourage excessive alcohol consumption, we recommend you finish an opened bottle as soon as possible.

When Does Liquor Expire?

Does Whiskey Expire?

An unopened bottle of whiskey does not expire; however, opened whiskey can expire.

Most whiskey experts believe that a half-full bottle of whiskey will last one to two years. Whiskey lasts roughly six months if it's only a quarter full. This is due to the fact that the less whiskey in the bottle, the more oxygen it contains. The more oxygen there is, the faster the whiskey oxidizes and goes bad.

Does Tequila Expire?

Like many other distilled spirits, tequila doesn't expire if left unopened. Nevertheless, it can go bad. Try to finish an open bottle of tequila within a year.

Does Vodka Expire?

No, vodka doesn't expire. Unopened bottles of vodka have a shelf life that lasts for a few decades.

There isn't much in vodka, considering it's a stable spirit. Hence, it doesn’t really have chemicals that can start decaying. However, bottles are not perfectly sealed, meaning there is always some form of contact with air.

An unopened bottle may lose enough alcohol content and flavor to be considered outdated after 40 or 50 years due to steady, continuous oxidation. However, it is possible that it will take a century. The point we’re making is that while vodka does not expire for human purposes, it does not last indefinitely.

There aren't many variations once it's opened. Vodka is a long-lasting spirit. Opened vodka has a shelf life of between 10 and 20 years. The oxidation is quicker, and the seal is weaker once the bottle is opened. However, we're still talking a few decades before the alcohol goes bad.

Does Rum Go Bad?

Unopened bottles of rum do not spoil. Rum that hasn't been opened can last for many years. However, once you open the bottle, rum expires quite quickly. It's recommended to drink rum within six months of opening it.

Does Brandy Expire?

Open bottles of brandy have approximately one to two years before you notice a change in quality and flavor.

Sealed bottles of brand don't go bad if stored properly and out of direct light.

Does Gin Expire?

Gin does have a shorter shelf life and can go bad within a year once the bottle is opened. If left unopened, the bottle can last indefinitely if properly stored in a cool dark place.

Furthermore, gin relies on the delicate tastes of botanicals, unlike vodka. Gin has more to lose in terms of flavor degradation. Gin has a shorter open-bottled lifespan than vodka, despite the fact that both are transparent liquors.

Do Cordials and Liqueurs Go Bad?

Yes, cordials and liqueurs spoil fairly quickly because they contain sugars and other intense ingredients.

Look at the sugar content of the bottles if you are ever unsure which one will expire first. The more sugar in alcohol, the quicker it will spoil, specifically if it has been opened.

After a year or more, many cordials and liqueurs, such as cream liqueurs, can deteriorate and become unusable. Even if the bottle isn't close to deteriorating, it's preferable to store it according to the manufacturer's instructions. 

See whether there are preservatives in the alcohol. This could help slow the rate of spoilage. The bottles might have expiration dates, which is always useful.

However, if the bottle develops any sedimentation or discoloration, it's best to discard it. If you want, you can give it a brief taste test, but the odds are it will not satisfy your expectations.

Does Wine Expire?

Yes, a bottle of wine can expire. However, there are various factors that contribute to the expiration of wine. The type of wine, wine storage, and the length of storage all impact this.

In general, red wine costing $10–$30 lasts around two to three years if left unopened. Similarly, a similar quality of unopened white wine lasts one to two years.

Sparkling wines have the shortest shelf life of all wines. To extend the shelf life, make sure it's stored upright in the fridge with a wine stopper.

Fortified wines have distilled spirits in them. This decreases the lifespan when compared to normal wine; however, it still has a longer lifespan than sparkling wine.

If you’re not someone who finishes wine bottles quickly, you might not want to buy a complete case of wine. These wines are intended to be consumed immediately after bottling. The ability to mature wine is incorporated into the process of winemaking.

Fine wines that are supposed to be matured can be kept for decades without being opened. Both red and white wines age well, while red wines and those with a higher alcohol content age better. If you taking aging wine for years seriously, the best thing you can do is figure out the ideal storage guidelines and duration for that particular wine. Storing your alcohol in wine coolers is also an option.

Does Beer Expire?

Sealed beer can last for six to eight months. Beer with a high ABV has a higher shelf-stable life than those with a lower ABV. Unpasteurized beers also have shorter life spans. Craft beers, alternatively, last longer as they aren't pasteurized.

Non-alcoholic Mixers

We recommend that you follow the expiration date for non-alcoholic mixers. As the bottle often states, you need to keep these refrigerated after opening them. This also applies to juices.

Sparkling waters and sodas are likely to have the shortest shelf life. Anyone who has consumed carbonated beverages knows that they don't last long.

Because these non-alcoholic mixers are used in so many popular cocktails, it's critical that they don't spoil.

Does Alcohol Have an Expiration Date?

Yes, alcohol does go bad, especially if you don't store it correctly. You need to be aware of the expiration date on all your bottles of booze, as each one differs.


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Hi, I'm Paul. Welcome to my website! I, along with my cronies, are leveraging our years of working in the food industry to review meal and drink delivery services. We review. You eat happily ever after.

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