Spirits

So how long should you keep alcohol after it's been opened?

19 January, 2019
More people are choosing to drink in the comfort of their own home, instead of at a bar, which means opened bottles around the house. Alcohol doesn't go bad in the same way that food does. How and when alcohol goes bad ultimately depends on the type of alcohol you're drinking and how you store it.

The good news - if you drink expired alcohol, the worst case scenario is you might get an upset stomach. When you pour a shot from that dusty bottle in your home bar you’re mostly likely only going to suffer a different taste than you’d expect, a loss of character or “punch.”

Such penalties may be minor for the casual drinker or someone who prefers sugary mixers like orange juice or soda but these can be bigger issues for a straight whiskey or martini drinker.

To keep your bar up to par, especially if you like to entertain guests, here are some general rules:

Classics - Rum, Gin, Tequila, Vodka, Whiskey, etc.
18 month shelf life is a good rule of thumb. What really happens is oxidization starts to take its toll and change the flavor, making it less vibrant. The color may also start to wane.

FYI - sealed don’t go bad or suffer oxidization, normally. That’s not to say any bottle is 100% sealed from possible oxygen leaking in just like the sufferings of wine bottles but it is rare. So if you’ve got dust on a sealed bottle, it will be fresh as a daisy when you do get to it.

Cream Based Liquors - Bailey’s, Carolans, Cruzan, etc.
9-15 months is a safe bet. Cream-based liqueurs significantly change flavor and color and they've been opened. Additionally, there is potential for separation or curdling.

Sherry
1 week. Nothing goes bad per se but Sherry will take a nose dive in flavor just after a week of opening.

Vermouth
1-2 months. Well made Vermouth can go three months but on average, sweet or dry vermouth should be checked sooner.