A small glass of brandy can go a long way to helping you unwind after a long day, or as a go-to for celebrations.
Like a lot of spirits, a bottle of brandy can spend a long time on your shelf or in your cupboard, leaving many people to ask:
Can brandy go bad? If so, how long does it take?
Here’s the good news: in terms of food safety, brandy won’t go bad. Due to the high alcohol content of brandy – anywhere between 40% to 60% – the spirit is protected from harmful bacteria developing.
That being said, the quality of brandy can be affected over time, so read on to find out how long it takes for the flavor of brandy to change over time, and how you can store an opened bottle to prevent this from happening.
Signs Brandy Has Spoiled
As brandy won’t go bad in terms of safety, it’s not going to develop things like mold, or go rotten. In fact, an unopened bottle of brandy can theoretically be stored indefinitely and still not go bad – the high alcohol content protects it from bacteria and other pathogens.
However, there is a downside to this; alcohol is susceptible to two natural processes called oxidization and evaporation, both of which will reduce the quality of your brandy.
A key sign that brandy has spoiled is the flavor becoming flat, which is a direct result of oxidization. This occurs once the brandy bottle is opened, as the compounds of the spirit are exposed to oxygen.
Another slightly more subtle sign that brandy has spoiled is its strength – alcohol, like all liquids, evaporates and it does so even faster than water. Evaporation weakens the strength of brandy over time.
If your brandy has developed an off odor, flavor, or appearance then it’s best to discard it – you’re safe to keep it, but the taste will not be optimal.
Long story short, the best way of telling if brandy has spoiled or not is to do a taste test.
Brandy should be stored in a cool environment like the pantry. Make sure to keep your brandy away from sources of heat and light. Try to find the darkest and coolest area of your pantry or basement to store the brandy.
Remember: storing brandy in a tightly-sealed container is helpful to keep it fresh for as long as possible, wherever you’re storing it. That means resealing the bottle tightly or transferring it to a new one for an airtight seal.
You could also store your brandy in the fridge – this is particularly helpful if you live in a climate where the temperature tends to fluctuate. However, this can also come down to preference; some people don’t like cold brandy!
If you do store it in the fridge, don’t keep it in the door, as changes in temperature can speed up the oxidization process.
Can You Freeze Brandy?
Yes, you can freeze brandy! Although it is usually consumed at room temperature, there’s no harm whatsoever in storing it in your freezer.
The minimum strength of brandy is 40% alcohol, which will not freeze in temperatures above –10 ° Fahrenheit, meaning it’s suitable for pretty much all regular home freezers.
Furthermore, the higher alcohol content in your brandy, the lower its freezing point, so if you have a stronger brand then it can withstand even colder temperatures.
Can You Revive The Taste Of Spoiled Brandy?
If your brandy has succumbed to the oxidization process and lost some of its flavor, fear not – you can still save it.
The easiest way to revive the flavor of your brandy is to infuse it with dried fruit or spices; as long as what you are infusing it with is low in moisture, you’re good to go. Cinnamon, cloves, and dried apricots are great choices.
All you need to do is add these spices or dried fruit to a jar, fill that jar most of the way with brandy, give it a good shake and then leave it for a few weeks. As ever, make sure you store it in a cool and dark place.
How Long Does Brandy Last?
Like most alcoholic drinks, it’s difficult to put a specific timeframe on how long brandy will last. However, an unopened bottle of brandy will largely remain fine indefinitely and will not have its quality impaired over time.
An opened bottle, if stored correctly as outlined above, will last for several years before its taste becomes noticeably flat. If you take the advice of the experts, then it should be consumed within 6-8 months of being opened for the best taste possible.
In Conclusion: Brandy
Brandy is made from fermented fruit mash or wine but, unlike wine, does not become ruined when left unopened for a long time.
Brandy will always be safe to drink, regardless of how long it has been sitting on your shelf. However, its taste and quality will worsen over time, particularly if it isn’t stored properly.
Once you’ve opened the bottle, store it in a tightly-sealed container and leave this in a cool, dark area of your house – a pantry is ideal. To see if your brandy has spoiled, give it a taste.