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Does Moonshine Go Bad? Complete Guide (2024 Updated)

Does Moonshine Go Bad

Last Updated on February 24, 2024 by Lydia Martin

If you’re craving something in between spicy and sweet, finding an old unopened bottle of moonshine in your wine cellar could be a surprise. But this discovery generally causes concern, as you may wonder, “does moonshine go bad?”

 If you want to know what we have discovered, keep on reading.

Moonshine: Does It Go Bad?

Ole Smoky

Plain moonshine spirits have no expiration date, unlike other spirits. Unless it’s flavored moonshine, in which case the extra sugars and flavor additives may reduce its shelf life. 

Standard moonshine is an unaged whiskey. It is distilled until zero sugars remain, making moonshine shelf-stable unopened for an endless time, like other alcoholic beverages.

Flavored moonshine, such as the famous apple pie moonshine and key lime moonshine, has added sugars. It makes it less shelf-stable and more sensitive to expiry once opened. However, it will still take a long time to expire compared to wine or fresh food. 

Its Shelf Life

Opened

If you have an opened bottle of moonshine, it is best to consume it immediately. Unlike other plain spirits with a longer shelf life, an opened bottle of moonshine can last up to six months. Flavored ones can last much shorter because air can enter the bottle. It can slightly change the quality of your moonshine. 

Unopened

Unopened Moonshine Bottle

If you store unopened moonshine in your cupboard for a few years, you won’t have to worry about it spoiling as long as the cap is on.

A standard moonshine does not spoil as long as it has zero sugar content and finishes the distillation process. Keep in mind, however, that not all moonshines are created equal. There are flavored ones, so drink them as soon as possible.

Check out some cool Ole Smoky moonshine flavors here.

Signs That Indicate Bad Moonshine

Foul Taste

It won’t harm taking a sip and tasting your moonshine if it’s stored properly and tightly sealed (assuming it was distilled properly). Even though it isn’t strictly hazardous, moonshine that “goes bad” has unpleasant or different flavors. So lookout for it. 

Weird Color

Moonshine Flavor Bottles

Another indicator to look out for is the color of your drink. If the color or texture of the moonshine appears to be different than normal, do not drink it. If you’re in any doubt, run the spoon test. This method recognizes if your drink is pure alcohol. 

What’s the Spoon Test?

A spoon test is conducted to know if there is pure alcohol or methanol in an alcoholic beverage [1]. The spoon test is pouring your pure moonshine into a spoon and lighting it on fire.

A blue light suggests the moonshine is okay to drink however a red or yellow flame means the moonshine contains lead and should not be consumed.

Also Read: Is Moonshine Legal In Texas?

2 Dangerous Chemicals You Must Look Out For

2 Dangerous Chemicals You Must Look Out For

Ethanol

Ethanol is produced from the distillation process [2]. It is a primary alcohol that may be consumed in little doses without causing harm. Drinking too much alcohol too rapidly can be harmful, resulting in stomach pumps, for example. 

This is why ethanol should only be ingested in tiny doses, as in a mixer or as a shot. 

Methanol

Methanol

Methanol is a toxic alcoholic chemical that has only one carbon atom and may cause acute disease and possibly death. If you’ve ever heard of moonshiners dying blind, you’re already familiar with the dangers of methanol. 

Worse, the toxin may kill in microscopic levels; thus, consuming moonshine with a lot of methanol can be quite dangerous. 

Properly Storing Moonshine

It’s best to keep it in a cold, dark place away from direct sunlight because light and heat can cause changes in the flavor of the liquor. You may also help maintain the characteristic flavor of moonshine by keeping it in the tiniest bottle or glass container possible.

A chemical reaction may happen in an open moonshine, which is the oxidation process in which air exposure can reduce the atomic makeup of alcohol. Also, flavored moonshines are prone to bacterial growth compared to standard moonshine as it does not contain additives or sugar.

Traditional moonshine was stored in wooden barrels for long-term storage. Nowadays, manufacturers are using glass jars in selling commercial moonshines. 

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What Happens When You Drink Bad Moonshine

Moonshine in a jar

Drinking bad moonshine will merely make individuals drunker. However, methanol may be exceedingly detrimental to a person’s health once it has been metabolized. 

It just takes ten milliliters (ml) of methanol to permanently damage the optic nerve and result in partial, if not full, blindness. Methanol in 30 mL is fatal. Excessive drinking is still harmful to the body; specially moonshines are pure alcohol. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Is it safe to drink old moonshine?

Yes, it’s still safe to drink old moonshine as long as you store moonshine correctly and tightly. You can taste your old bottle of moonshine if it’s still bad or drinkable. A bad moonshine has an unpleasant flavor and is off-color. What does moonshine really taste like?

Can you freeze moonshine?

Yes, you can freeze moonshine. However, bottles of moonshine freeze only at a temperature of -235 °F, so they can’t be frozen with just a regular freezer. Because moonshine has a high alcohol content of roughly 40%, it requires an extremely cold environment to freeze fully. 

Does moonshine go bad when mixed with fruits?

No, moonshine doesn’t go bad when mixed with fruits. However, flavored moonshine has a shorter shelf life because a fruit-infused moonshine has added sugars, not in its purest form. There are many moonshine recipes out there that cocktail lovers enjoy.

Does flavored moonshine go bad?

Yes, a flavored fruit moonshine goes bad but not to the extent that it’s deadly. Sugar is used to enhance flavored moonshines, which means it will spoil and have a different taste than its distinct flavor. 

Does moonshine get stronger with age?

Unlike whiskey or other spirits that mature and develop complexity with time in barrels, moonshine doesn’t typically benefit from aging. Moonshine is a term often used to describe illegally distilled or homemade spirits, and the lack of controlled aging conditions can lead to inconsistent results. The potency of moonshine is primarily determined during the distillation process, and aging it in traditional barrels might not significantly alter its strength or flavor profile.

Does moonshine need to be refrigerated?

Moonshine, like other distilled spirits, doesn’t require refrigeration for preservation. Its high alcohol content acts as a natural preservative, preventing the growth of bacteria or spoilage. Storing moonshine in a cool, dark place at room temperature is sufficient. However, some people may prefer to enjoy moonshine chilled or mixed into cocktails with ice.

What happens if you age moonshine?

Aging moonshine can mellow its harshness and improve its flavor, much like aging whiskey. While moonshine isn’t traditionally aged in barrels due to its illicit nature, enthusiasts may experiment with small barrels or other aging methods to see how the spirit evolves. Aging can impart subtle nuances, but it’s essential to note that traditional moonshine is often consumed shortly after distillation.

Is moonshine the most powerful alcohol?

Moonshine can be quite potent, but whether it is the most powerful alcohol depends on the specific distillation process and the resulting alcohol by volume (ABV). Commercially available high-proof spirits, like Everclear, can surpass the alcohol content of traditional moonshine. The potency of moonshine is often a result of the distiller’s methods and the raw materials used.

Why is moonshine illegal?

Moonshine is often associated with illegal distillation and production, stemming from historical periods when individuals engaged in unregulated, untaxed alcohol production. Governments regulate the production and sale of alcohol for safety reasons, ensuring quality control, taxation, and consumer protection. Illegally produced moonshine can pose health risks due to uncontrolled distillation processes and unregulated ingredients.

Is moonshine better warm or cold?

The preference for enjoying moonshine warm or cold is subjective and depends on personal taste. Some people enjoy the warmth of moonshine when sipped at room temperature, while others may prefer it chilled. Serving moonshine over ice or in cocktails can provide a refreshing and smoother drinking experience, masking some of its inherent intensity. Ultimately, the choice between warm or cold moonshine is based on individual preference.

How many days do you let moonshine ferment?

The fermentation process for moonshine typically takes several days, and the duration can vary based on factors such as the recipe, yeast strain used, and desired alcohol content. Generally, moonshine fermentation lasts between 5 to 14 days. During this period, yeast converts sugars into alcohol, creating the base for distillation. The fermentation time may be adjusted to achieve specific flavor profiles or alcohol concentrations.

How do you make moonshine more potent?

Increasing the potency of moonshine involves controlling the distillation process to concentrate the alcohol content. Factors such as the type of still, the temperature during distillation, and the cuts made during the process can influence potency. Ensuring a thorough fermentation process and using high-sugar ingredients can also contribute to higher alcohol yields. It’s crucial to note that producing high-proof spirits requires careful attention to safety and legal considerations.

How long do you age moonshine?

Traditional moonshine is not often aged like whiskey in barrels, as its production is typically associated with illicit or homemade distillation. However, enthusiasts may experiment with aging moonshine in small barrels or through alternative methods to enhance flavor and smoothness. Unlike whiskey, moonshine doesn’t require extended aging, and its character is often appreciated when consumed shortly after distillation.

What alcohol improves with age?

Certain types of distilled spirits, such as whiskey and wine, can improve with age due to the interactions between the liquid and the wooden barrels. Aging can impart complexity, smoothness, and unique flavor profiles. However, not all alcohols benefit from aging, and some, like vodka and moonshine, are often enjoyed fresh without the need for extended maturation.

Does moonshine have to be aged?

Traditional moonshine does not have to be aged, and its production is often associated with the absence of aging in barrels. Moonshine is typically consumed shortly after distillation, capturing the raw and unaged characteristics of the distilled spirit. While aging can be experimented with for those seeking unique flavors, it is not a requirement for moonshine production. The decision to age moonshine depends on the distiller’s preferences and creative experimentation.

Final Thoughts 

According to our extensive research, moonshine does go bad, at least not in the traditional sense. However, no bottles of moonshine expire in the same way that milk does. Moonshine has an indefinite shelf life and is one of the strongest alcoholic beverages, like whiskey.

On the other hand, flavored moonshine, which contains sugar, has a shorter shelf life but can survive for years after being opened. 

Direct light, heat, and air can alter the flavor characteristics of an open bottle and affect how long does moonshine could last. But if you store moonshine properly, it can last long. 

References: 

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/alcoholic-beverages 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/food-science/distilled-beverage
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