Does Alcohol Go Bad? How To Store Alcohol Properly

Ever wondered about the shelf life of your favorite wine, beer, or spirits? Wonder no more. We’ve got the lowdown on the life span of your favorite beverages as well as how to store alcohol to ensure you have optimal time to enjoy it.

Does Alcohol Go Bad?

Does liquor go bad? If someone gifted you a bottle of whiskey or rum, is it safe to drink if it’s been sitting on your shelf for a while? Just how long does alcohol last? The good news is that liquor such as gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila, and rum, are considered shelf-stable. That means that as long as you store the bottle properly and it remains unopened, you can consider it safe to drink indefinitely. 

The Shelf Life of Liquor

The shelf life of liquor can vary depending on the type of alcohol as well as on how it’s stored. Variables such as temperature, light exposure, and oxidation can impact liquor even when a bottle remains sealed.

Do Spirits Expire?

Spirits (gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila, and rum) are all made from grain or plants that are fermented with yeast before they are distilled. The alcohol is then aged in barrels or casks and eventually bottled. Once bottled, the liquor stops aging. 

Once you open a bottle of spirits, you should drink it within six to eight months for the best tasting experience.

Does Beer Go Bad?

Beer is brewed using grain, water, and yeast. During the fermentation process, naturally occurring carbonation gives beer its familiar fizz. Hops or hop plant flowers are added to the brew to give it a bitter, floral, or citrus flavor. The hops are the ingredient that stabilizes and preserves the beer.

Unopened beer is good to drink for six to eight months past its use-by date. Mass-produced beer is typically pasteurized, which extends its shelf life. These beers should retain their flavor for up to one year after bottling. Experts recommend that you drink craft beers, which are typically unpasteurized, within three months of bottling. 

Does Wine Go Bad After Opening?

Like liquor and beer, wine is produced through a fermentation process. Many fine wines are aged in barrels for months or even years to add complexity and intensity to the flavors. If stored properly, a bottle of fine wine can last up to 20 years. You should drink less expensive wines within two years after bottling. 

You should drink organic wines within three to six months after purchase as most do not contain sulfites used for preservation. 

How To Store Alcohol Properly

To properly store a bottle of spirits after opening, keep it upright in a dark, cool place such as a cabinet or even a freezer. Liqueurs, especially those containing cream, should be refrigerated and consumed within six months after opening.

Unopened beer should be stored upright in a refrigerator and consumed within hours of opening. Opened beer will usually go flat after a single day unless refrigerated and resealed. Even then, it will likely only last one more day before its flavor is compromised.

Unopened wine should be stored on its side in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. If properly stored, you can enjoy wine for many years. Once you’ve opened a bottle of wine, you should store it corked in the refrigerator and drink it within three to seven days for the most enjoyable taste.

Sparkling wine should be consumed within hours after opening. If you cannot drink the entire bottle, you should cork it with an airtight stopper and store it in the refrigerator. This should extend the wine’s shelf life by up to three days.