Does Whiskey Go Bad: A Guide To Know More About your Alcohol

Whiskey is one of the most popular liquors around the world, which is why it is no longer surprising that a lot of people has a bottle of it sitting at home. In some instances, it has been there for quite a long time and at one point, you will question yourself – does whiskey go bad?

Does Whiskey Go Bad


If you are thinking if you can still drink whiskey that has been in a bottle for years, this post is for you. We’ll let you know what happens if you keep it for a long time, and more importantly, how you can retain the peak condition of your liquor.

What is Whiskey?

Whiskey is one of the most complex amongst liquors. From the grains used to the process of distillation, from its flavor to its origin, it can be further categorized in different types. The discussions in the rest of this post, however, will stay true for all types of whiskey.

Technically speaking, whiskey is distilled beer. They are placed in oak barrels for aging, the duration of which will have an impact on the flavor and aroma of the outcome. If in case the whiskey is not matured in a barrel, it is called moonshine.

Now, you might be confused about the differences in spelling. It is believed that if it is spelled as whiskey, it is from a country that has letter e in its name, such as Ireland and United States. On the other hand, if it is spelled as whisky, the country of origin also does not have the letter e in its name, such as Scotland, Canada, and Japan.

Below is a short visual guide that will provide you with quick insights on how whiskey is made:

Does Whiskey Go Bad



The good news is that whiskey has an extended shelf life. In fact, it can almost last indefinitely. However, it is also important to note that this does not mean that the quality of whiskey will remain the same throughout the years. The external environment and the manner of handling, among others, are just some of the things that can affect its flavor and aroma.

It should be pointed out that unlike wine, whiskey does not get better as it age. It is aged only once it is in barrels. Once it is transferred in a bottle, on the other hand, it stops maturing. With this, there is no excuse to keep that bottle of whiskey waiting.

What Happens when Whiskey Goes Off

As long as you leave the bottle of whiskey unopened and keep it in a dark place, it will be good for a long time. On the other hand, once it is already opened, this is the time wherein it can be exposed to external elements that could result to a variety of damages.

As much as possible, after opening a bottle of whiskey, consume it within six months to two years. One of the most common problems is oxidation. This happens when it is exposed to air when the lid is not properly closed. If there is more oxygen inside, this can lead to the loss of flavor and aroma, making whiskey seem bland.

There are visible changes in appearance, which will be indicative that whiskey is no longer good for consumption. The color may tend to be paler or darker. The odor and taste can also be odd than the usual. Luckily, it happens only in extreme cases as the alcohol content makes it not easily prone to the presence of bacteria.

How To Store Whiskey

Whether you have an unopened or opened bottle of whiskey, proper handling is necessary to retain its best condition. For an unopened bottle, keep it in an upright position in a place that is cool and dark. Do not have it placed somewhere it can be directly reached by the heat of the sun.

After opening the bottle, meanwhile, it is best to transfer it in a smaller container. This will help in the reduction of air contact. Marbles can also prove to be effective as they can aid in the pushing of alcohol.

A simple storage solution, although often ignored by many, is making sure that the bottle is properly closed. If not, this can attract air and once it gets inside, oxidation starts. You can replace the cork with a top that can seal the opening of the bottle, or better yet, use a container that comes with a sealed top.

You should also pay attention to the temperature where whiskey is stored. Ideally, it should be anywhere from 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It should be consistent. Heat is one of the mortal enemies of whiskey, so make sure that it won’t be exposed to such.


Does whiskey go bad? If it is left unopened, it can have an indefinite shelf life, especially when stored properly. Once it is opened, on the other hand, use it within six months to two years for the best flavor and aroma. Aside from answering this question, below are other important things discussed in this article:

  • Whiskey is distilled beer. They are aged in barrels, although there are also some that are not placed in casks. Some of the most popular countries of origin include Scotland, Ireland, United States, and Japan.
  • One of the most common problems that can happen in whiskey is oxidation, which happens when air gets through the bottle. This can speed up evaporation of alcohol. This will inevitably lead to weaker aroma and flavor.
  • To make sure that whiskey will stay at its best even through the years, proper handling and storage is necessary. Keep it in a cool and dry place, away from sunlight and other direct sources of heat. Always keep the bottle cap tightly closed. Also, transfer it in a smaller bottle to prevent oxidation.

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