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 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 birthday 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.