Does Whiskey Go Bad? [The Ultimate Whiskey Guide]


This article will explore whether or not whiskey goes bad. It's a common question, and it's important to know if your favorite drink is going to spoil before you need to finish it. Is the answer yes? No? You'll have to read on for our take on this subject!

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Maybe you picked up a bottle of whiskey, not realizing it could go bad. Maybe you were just curious about the shelf life and didn’t know how long it lasts before tasting too old or sour. There are many factors that can affect the expiration date, so this article will explore what they are and how to keep your whiskey fresh for longer. 

Does whiskey go bad? Unopened whiskey doesn’t go bad and can last indefinitely. However, if the bottle is opened, then it will expire sooner than expected. Most whiskey scientists believe that an opened bottle of whiskey lasts about 1 to 2 years. However, if it is less than half full, the alcohol tends to expire about 6 months after opening. This is because the alcohol evaporates over time.

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How To Store Whiskey?

Storing whiskey is easy, but there are a few things you should know before storing the bottle.

  • First of all, make sure to keep it dark as light can alter both taste and smell.
  • You also want to avoid placing your bottles near any heat sources like lamps or fireplaces because these will affect temperature changes that may ultimately change the flavor.
  • Finally, think about where exactly you will store it if choosing between places like pantries or wine cellars-whichever suits your needs best!

If you’re looking for the perfect place to store your whiskey collection, make sure they are stored upright.

Once you’ve opened the bottle, it’s essential to seal it tightly each time you put it back into storage. To preserve its best quality for as long as possible, use an original cap or cork.

If that’s not a possibility, a wine stopper will work just fine if you plan to keep it around less than four months of opening day.

Once it’s open, the bottle can still be stored where you’ve always kept it. The only rule is that kids and pets, in particular, shouldn’t come into contact with either alcohol or its container.

Whether you like your whiskey chilled or at room temperature, there’s no harm in keeping it in the fridge.

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How Long Does Whiskey Last?

There are several things that you should know about the shelf life of whiskey. 

The first is that all aging occurs in casks, not once bottled.

So there’s no point trying to age it at home. Besides this, even if your bottle was appropriately sealed and stored away from light or other air sources for many years, a bit more oxygen will seep inside, which changes its taste ever-so-slightly (but noticeably).

Since whiskeys have such high alcohol content, they won’t spoil when opened up; however, certain types may get stale, with too much exposure to moisture in the air. This can make them smell sour like vinegar and give off an acrid flavor, but these effects take longer than months before being noticed.

While most producers put a best-by date on each bottle, this is either a formality or done to make consumers trust the product. Either way, unopened whiskey lasts pretty much indefinitely. It might slightly change its taste over time, but it won’t spoil.

Once you open the bottle, whiskey is exposed to air, and the process of taste change speeds up. In time, the shift in taste will be so pronounced that you might find it unacceptable and discard it for quality purposes.

There is no way of knowing how long it will last before it begins to taste differently. Alcohol affects the taste degradation process, so evidence from experiments shows that the longer there are higher alcohol concentrations in liquid, the slower tasting deterioration occurs.

That means if you have a fifth of a bottle left and it sits in the pantry for two years, it probably won’t taste anywhere near its original flavor. That’s why we recommend pouring the whiskey into a smaller bottle when the original one is less than half full.

While much debate has arisen about how long whiskey should be stored after it has been opened, many people find that they enjoy the flavor more once a few days have passed.

Once you unscrew the whiskey for the first time, some of its volatile compounds are released and make it taste more even. Many people like such whiskey better than drinking it straight after uncorking or unscrewing for the first time.

Type of WhiskeyPantry
Whiskey (Unopened)Stays fine indefinitely
Whiskey (Opened)1+ years
Whiskey (Opened-less than half full)up to 6 months
Whiskey Shelf Life Table (Please note that the period for opened whiskey is only a rough estimate for the best quality.)
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How To Tell If Whiskey Is Bad?

Whiskey is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in the world. It has an intense following and many loyal fans who have been drinking it for years. Yet, despite their amount of experience with this drink, some people are still unsure about how to tell if whiskey is bad.

There are a few ways to find out if your whiskey has gone bad–depending on whether its taste or color has altered, but they’re relatively similar. Here’s how you can test your drink for possible spoilage-

How To Tell If Whiskey Is Bad By Sight

To determine whether your drink has gone rancid, look at its appearance (its color and how it has separated). It should appear clear, not cloudy. Whiskey that is no longer fit for consumption has lost its natural clarity and will be yellow or have a dark tinge instead. In addition, the whiskey’s consistency might look like oil floating on top of the water- if this is the case, don’t drink it!

How To Tell If Whiskey Is Bad By Smell

If you want to know whether your whiskey smells bad, give it a good old sniff – literally! Take a good whiff at the drink in question and see if any unusual scents emit the glass. A foul smell could mean that your whiskey has been contaminated by bacteria or mold – both of which can be harmful to your health. So, if you catch a whiff of something fishy when you’re lifting the glass to your lips, don’t risk it!

How To Tell If Whiskey Is Bad By Taste?

There are two ways that you can test whether whiskey has gone bad by taste:

  • First, check its smoothness. Whiskey is supposed to be pleasantly bitter. It’s what gives it its distinctive flavor. But if yours doesn’t taste good anymore- then there might be a problem with it!
  • Second, try mixing the whiskey with water – for example, add ice cubes or pour some cold tap water into the glass if that’s easier for you. This will dilute the drink and make it less potent–however, if it still tastes terrible, leave it alone.

How To Tell If Whiskey Is Bad By Age?

Unfortunately, even the best whiskey will eventually go bad–whether its taste and color have changed for the worse or it’s simply ‘ready’ to be consumed! However, there are ways you can tell if a bottle of whiskey is no longer fit to drink. For example, older whiskeys are more likely to have gone rancid than their younger counterparts – so if yours is several years old (and not matured in bond), think twice before drinking it.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Should you refrigerate whiskey?

If you really must refrigerate the whiskey, make sure it’s in a tightly closed container. That way, it won’t lose flavor to evaporation and formaldehyde contamination. It will also help minimize surface evaporation of alcohol, which could occur in an open bottle or carafe — a significant problem for a beverage that has as much alcohol like whiskey.

Is it bad to drink Old Whiskey?

There’s no reason to drink old whiskey. It’s pretty dangerous. Like any other alcoholic beverage, whiskey contains ethanol, and over time (years, in this case), ethanol breaks down into acetic acid — better known as vinegar. Aging whiskey in porous barrels exposes it to oxygen, which causes the alcohol content to rise, and the acetic acid to form. Scientists call this process the “angel’s share.”

How do storage conditions affect whisky?

Storage conditions affect whisky’s taste. That’s why distilled spirits are aged in oak barrels – to give it some additional oaky flavor, which can be woody, fruity, spicy, and so on. The different flavors are due to the many different types of oak used in constructing the barrel.

How long does whisky age?

Time can only do so much to a whisky. If you hold it in ideal conditions — let’s say 68°F (20°C) and 50% relative humidity — and add one drop of liquid every second, it would take more than 10 million years for the bottle to evaporate away. That’s why at average temperatures, every last drop of that expensive scotch you bought will be gone in a few years, regardless of the quality.

How to seal a bottle of whisky?

You can use a wax seal. If you’ve never used one, it’s pretty easy. Just heat the end of your wax stick, so it melts into a small sphere. Place this on top of the cork and press down gently, so it makes contact with the wood underneath. You don’t want air getting in there. Just remember to lift the seal when you’re pouring.


There are two main reasons why whiskey will go bad.

The first is that the drink’s alcohol content breaks down and becomes a fatty acid called acetic acid (vinegar). This can happen when there’s too much air in the bottle or if it’s stored improperly at higher temperatures.

Secondly, any time you add water to whiskey, even just one drop, its pH levels change, which causes oxidation to occur more quickly than usual, leading to spoilage over time.

However, with proper storage conditions like dark places without light exposure and an appropriate seal on your bottles of whisky, both these problems can be avoided! It’s essential not only for taste but also for safety purposes to store all spirits properly so they don’t become spoiled.



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