Does Whiskey Go Bad?

Does whiskey go bad or not? How do you tell if whiskey has gone bad and is it still safe to drink? Here's a short guide.

So you’ve found a half-empty bottle of whiskey in your drinks cabinet, and now you’re wondering:

“Does whiskey go bad? How are you even meant to store it?”

Here’s the good news: whiskey is a hard liquor that can remain drinkable indefinitely. But this is only true if it is kept in a sealed bottle, away from direct sunlight, and in a cool, dry place.

The bad news is: Once you open a bottle of whiskey, it does expire within a year if there is more than half in the bottle and within six months if there is less than half left in the bottle.

Related:Does Bourbon Go Bad?Does Rum Go Bad?Does Tequila Go Bad?

How To Tell If Your Whiskey Has Gone Bad

glass of whiskey with ice

First things first. Unopened whiskey can definitely go bad, but it almost never does. That’s because whiskey’s high alcohol content kills bacteria.

However, once you’ve opened your bottle of whiskey, you’d be wise to sip on it regularly or share it with friends. Even if you reseal the bottle tightly, the alcohol will be exposed to air and slowly evaporate.

This is the reason why, over time, an opened bottle of whiskey will taste smoother and duller.

If there’s nothing visibly wrong with your whiskey, you won’t do yourself any harm by giving it a sip. If your open bottle of whiskey has dulled in flavor but is under a year old, use it in a cocktail or recipe!

How Long Does Whiskey Last?

whiskey brands

Whiskey can basically keep indefinitely if stored properly.

Once a bottle of whiskey is opened, you should consume it within a year – closer to 12 months if your bottle is almost full and closer to 3 months if you’ve only got a bit left.

Why? Because less whiskey in the bottle means more air, which speeds up the oxidization process.

How To Store Opened & Unopened Whiskey

pouring whiskey into glass

Unopened whisky should be stored in an upright position to prevent spills and left in a dark, cool, dry place. Make sure to also keep the bottle away from any sunlight and heat sources. This is especially important if your bottle of whisky is transparent – and that’s most of them!

Once your bottle of whiskey has been opened, you can replace it in your kitchen cabinet or pantry. Refrigerating or freezing your whiskey won’t extend the shelf life and will dull the aromatic flavors of your whiskey, so it’s definitely not recommended.

Summary On Whiskey

Whiskey has a long shelf life if left unopened, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Once opened, it is better to drink it within six months to a year if you have more than half left in the bottle and less if you have less than half in the bottle.

Always store the whiskey bottles upright as, over time, aluminum caps can loosen, leading to more oxygen getting to your whiskey and speeding up degradation.

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Alisa Shimoyama

Alisa eats her way around the world on her travels and likes to have good food ready and waiting for her when she gets back.