Ask drinkplanner

Ask DrinkPlanner is a reoccurring feature here where readers submit their questions, and the crack team at DrinkPlanner does our best to answer. Got a question about booze? Ask us!

Phone is ringin’… OMG!

“Hey DrinkPlanner,

I read your column last week where you talked about wine going bad.  What about other alcohol?  Will it always stay fresh?  I’ve had bottles of Irish Cream go bad on me before so I know it can’t last forever.


Old Man Drinker”

Well despite what you may have learned from TV, most alcohol has a pretty good shelf-life.  In fact, most hard liquor is nigh-on invincible.  Let’s dive in deeper, shall we?  I’ll put numbers next to my points so it looks muy importante.

1. Straight Liquor Won’t Go Bad – But it can change.  Meaning, even if it’s corked/sealed some alcohol can evaporate, and over time the qualities of the booze will change.  But as it were, it won’t go “bad” and it will never hurt you or go sour or make you ill (except in cases of over-consumption, of course).  This only applies to alcohol that is nothing but BOOZE, no cremes or fruits or other crap added.  I’d say 40% ABV or greater… However, don’t get it twisted…

2. Aging Happens Before Bottling – If you buy a bottle of 12 yr old whiskey today and then wait for 3 years before opening, you won’t have a 15 year old bottle of booze.  You’ll have a 12 year old whiskey that you were too stupid to open 3 years earlier.  Once booze is bottled and in the glass bottle, “aging” as it were doesn’t occur.  Aging only counts when it’s in a barrel, soaking up the qualities of the cask it was placed in, new oak, French oak, sherry, bourbon, or otherwise.  Once it’s in a bottle and ready for retail, it’s as good as it’s going to get (outside of wine). HOWEVER…

3. Creme Liqueurs CAN Go Bad – I mean really, it’s made from milk, it HAS to die sometime.  However, the alcohol can preserve it longer than your average gallon of 2%.  Some say as long as 2 years! I say…give it a sniffy-sniff and see if it smells funky or not.  If it smells more-or-less OK, I say go for it…the alcohol will kill most of the possible nastiness that could harm you.  If you have the room and know it won’t be getting consumed anytime soon, stick it in the fridge to prolong the life of your Bailey’s or St. Brendan’s.

And thar she blows.  Got a question about drinking or drinking ettiquitte? Ask DrinkPlanner!

2 Responses to “Ask DrinkPlanner: Alcohol Aging and Lifespan”

  1. The White Russian says:

    Any article that references an Arrested Development episode (and links to the episode in-full, no less) gets two thumbs up from me. Nice work.

  2. DrinkPlanner says:

    I kind of love it when people appreciate my jokes.

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