Liquor Laboratory

ll logo white
ll logo white

Does Brandy Go Bad or Expire? (2023 Updated)

Does Brandy Go Bad or Expire

Last Updated on March 20, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Like wine, brandy is also made from grapes. It just goes through a different distillation process. And while we know that wine goes bad if left open for too long, can we also assume that this circumstance proves similar to brandy? 

So, does brandy go bad? Let’s find out! 

Does It Really Expire? 

Brandy Bottles with glasses

No, brandy (burnt wine) does not expire in terms of food safety. Brandy, made from fermented fruit mash, is distilled into strong, concentrated alcohol before bottling at a whopping 35 to 60 percent ABV, versus the 11.6 percent of the wine

The spirit’s high alcohol content allows the opened bottle to be stored indefinitely without you having to worry about it growing bacteria or other pathogens. It will also remain safe for consumption. 

On the other hand, while brandy can be stored indefinitely without it expiring, you can’t expect its taste and quality to remain the same as the first day it was opened. Like whiskey, it’s highly important to store the brandy in a tightly sealed container in a dark place to preserve its original flavor for as long as possible. 

So, brandy’s quality does expire over time, especially when the liquor bottle is left in unfavorable conditions. 

Read: Brandy & Whiskey Compared

How Long Does Brandy Last? 

How Long Does Brandy Last

Opened Bottle 

The flavor and quality of an opened brandy bottle will go bad over time. You will notice that older brandy tastes “flat” because many of its flavors will start vanishing as soon as it’s opened, even if stored properly. 

Industry experts recommend that you finish an opened bottle of brandy within six to eight months after opening to experience its full, rich quality. 

Unopened Bottle 

Unopened Brandy

Like other spirits, brandy can last indefinitely if left unopened. However, it’s still important to store the unopened bottle in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or heat, to preserve its original quality. Evaporation and oxidation, caused by sunlight and high temperatures, are the worst culprits that could affect the quality of even unopened brandy. 

It’s also important to remember that bottled spirits no longer age. That means that the rules regarding aging no longer apply and that the quality of the brandy bottle won’t get better the longer you’ve had it, even though you follow proper storage guidelines. 

Read: Does Brandy Have Health Benefits?

How To Tell If Brandy Has Gone Bad 

How To Tell If Brandy Has Gone Bad

Taste Is Flat

There’s no way to predict how the bottle of brandy will turn out. One of the surefire ways to tell if brandy has gone bad is if you notice a “flat” taste. This is because the flavor compounds within the spirit have mostly disappeared. 

A simple way to combat an older brandy’s “flat” taste is to infuse it with herbs and spices. Vanilla beans, cinnamon, dried apricots, and other dried fruit wonderfully work as they are low in moisture. But what should brandy taste like?

Pour the brandy and flavorings into a sealable jar, give it a good shake, and store in a cool, dark location anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. What you’ll have is a dried fruit-infused brandy! 

Foul Smell

Another tell-tale sign that brandy has gone bad is if you notice an off smell emanating from it. Pour some into a glass and take a whiff for quality purposes before you decide to take a sip. If the brandy smells rancid or sour, it’s a great indicator that the taste will be equally unpleasant, and it’s best to throw it out. 

Weakened Strength

Brandy’s high alcohol content means that the spirit will evaporate over time. You will notice that the older the brandy is, the less strength and flavor there is when you drink it because much of the alcohol from the open bottle has already evaporated. 

Liquid Appearance

Remy Martin with Cocktail

When the compounds within brandy are exposed to oxygen, oxidation occurs. This process gives the spirit a much darker color and greatly affects its quality. 

What Degrades Its Quality? 

Oxidation

Carriage House Apple Brandy

When brandy gets into contact with oxygen, a process called oxidation occurs. This process can alter the original quality of the spirit tremendously. The more oxygen there is in the bottle of brandy, the faster the rate of the oxidation process. 

Evaporation 

Evaporation occurs when the brandy is stored in a warm place. It’s best to ensure that the bottle of brandy is stored correctly in the coolest place in your home, so it doesn’t come into contact with heat and light [1].

Read:

Tips For Storing Brandy To Avoid Spoilage

Hennessy XO 

One of the best ways to store brandy to avoid spoilage and maximize its shelf life is to store it in a cool, dry place, preferably in the basement or pantry. Keep it away from heat — this will strongly affect the flavor and quality of brandy. Here’s a solid tip: pantry brandy stays fine indefinitely if properly stored because this area doesn’t experience constant temperature changes. 

It’s also a great idea to transfer unfinished brandy into a tightly-sealed bottle. And if you have a vacuum sealer for food storage, even better! It will seal out air and create a vacuum around the spirit. 

Storing brandy inside the refrigerator is also a great way to avoid spoilage, although it isn’t necessary (not everyone likes cold brandy) to freeze brandy. Stronger brandy can also withstand even colder temperatures. 

However, if you plan to store the bottle of brandy in the fridge, take note not to leave it at the door, as the temperature in this area fluctuates. Storing brandy inside liquor cabinets is also a great option, as these fixtures often have a moderate temperature. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can old brandy make you sick?

No, old brandy cannot make you sick. Generally, you’ll notice that there is an off odor and a dull taste upon drinking an old liquor. However, spoiled brandy won’t be enough to warrant a visit to the hospital. 

Can you drink 100-year-old brandy?

Yes, it is safe to drink brandy that’s 100 years old. However, there is no guarantee that anything will be left inside the brandy bottle after 100 years. Most of the spirit might’ve already disappeared due to evaporation and oxidation!.

How can you tell if brandy has gone bad?

To determine if brandy has gone bad, there are a few signs to look out for. One indicator is a flat taste, where the flavors are muted or unpleasant. If the brandy doesn’t taste as it should, it may have deteriorated. Another sign is a foul or off smell coming from the bottle. If you notice an unpleasant odor, it’s a sign that the brandy may have spoiled. Additionally, if you observe any mold or sediment in the bottle, it’s best to discard the brandy as it is no longer suitable for consumption. Trust your taste buds and nose to guide you in determining the quality of the brandy.

How long can you keep a bottle of brandy?

The shelf life of brandy is virtually indefinite if stored properly. Unlike wine, brandy does not spoil or go bad. However, over time, the flavors and aromas of brandy may change and mellow, which can be desirable for some individuals. Properly stored brandy can maintain its quality and flavor for many years, allowing you to enjoy it at your own pace.

Does brandy get better with age?

Brandy, like other spirits, does not necessarily get better with age. While some brandies may benefit from aging in oak barrels to develop more complex flavors, most brandies are already aged before being bottled. Therefore, the aging process of brandy primarily occurs during its production and maturation in oak casks. Once bottled, the aging process slows down significantly. It’s important to note that not all brandies are meant to be aged, and the optimal age for consumption depends on the specific brand and style.

How can you tell how old brandy is?

Determining the exact age of brandy can be challenging unless it is explicitly mentioned on the bottle. Some brandies may include an age statement indicating the number of years the brandy has been aged. However, not all brandies provide this information. In such cases, it is best to consult the brand’s website or contact the producer directly for more details.

Do you need to refrigerate brandy?

Brandy does not need to be refrigerated. In fact, storing brandy in the refrigerator can dull its flavors and aromas. It is recommended to store brandy in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations. A pantry or a liquor cabinet is a suitable location for storing brandy, as long as the bottle is tightly sealed to prevent oxidation and maintain its quality over time.

How can you tell if brandy is good?

Determining if brandy is good involves assessing its quality and flavor. A good brandy should have a pleasant aroma, with notes of fruit, spice, and oak. When tasting, it should have a smooth and well-balanced flavor, with complexity and depth. The finish should be long and satisfying. Ultimately, the judgment of whether brandy is good or not is subjective and depends on personal taste preferences.

How do you store old brandy?

Storing old brandy requires careful attention to maintain its quality. It is recommended to store old brandy in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature, ideally between 15-20°C (59-68°F). Avoid exposure to direct sunlight, as it can degrade the flavors and aromas. The bottle should be stored upright to minimize contact with the cork and prevent any potential contamination. It is also important to ensure a tight seal to prevent oxidation. If the brandy comes in a decanter, make sure it is airtight. By following these storage guidelines, you can help preserve the integrity and flavors of the old brandy.

Can you drink brandy from the bottle?

While it is technically possible to drink brandy directly from the bottle, it is not the recommended or preferred method. Drinking from the bottle can make it difficult to appreciate the aromas and flavors fully. It is best to pour brandy into a suitable glass, such as a tulip-shaped glass or a snifter. These glassware designs help concentrate the aromas, allowing you to fully experience the complex bouquet of the brandy. Pouring brandy into a glass also allows for better temperature control and a more enjoyable drinking experience.

How do you store vintage brandy?

Storing vintage brandy requires similar considerations as storing old brandy. It is crucial to store vintage brandy in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature and minimal exposure to sunlight. The ideal temperature range for storage is between 15-20°C (59-68°F). Vintage brandy should be stored upright to prevent any potential leakage or contamination. It is essential to ensure a tight seal on the bottle or decanter to prevent oxidation. By following these storage guidelines, you can help preserve the unique qualities and aging characteristics of vintage brandy.

Why do doctors recommend brandy?

Doctors may recommend brandy in certain situations for its potential health benefits when consumed in moderation. Brandy, like other alcoholic beverages, contains alcohol, which, in limited quantities, can have certain effects on the body. It is believed that brandy, when consumed in moderation, may have a warming effect, help to relax muscles, and promote better sleep. Additionally, brandy is sometimes suggested as a digestive aid, as it may stimulate the appetite and improve digestion. However, it is important to note that these recommendations are based on individual circumstances and should not be seen as a universal prescription. It is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice regarding alcohol consumption and its potential health effects.

So, Does Brandy Go Bad?

With its high alcohol content, brandy does not go bad or grow mold and bacteria. This alcohol is safe to consume indefinitely. However, that does not mean that the flavor and quality of the brandy will remain the same as the first day it’s opened. 

The two natural processes, oxidation and evaporation, will ultimately affect the caliber of the spirit, which will not make for a pleasant drink, somehow making the brandy go bad. 

Therefore, it’s best to consume brandy within six to eight months after opening to experience its best quality. It’ll be such a waste to see bottles of brandy go bad, right?

Reference: 

  1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/chilling-science-evaporative-cooling-with-liquids/
Lumint ad Side Bar
Flex Ad Side Bar