Does Rum Go Bad When Opened Or Unopened? (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin

If you have a bottle of rum inside your cabinet that has been there for a few years, you may wonder if it’s still safe to drink. This confusion led most people to the question – does rum go bad? 

Our team spent 24 hours gathering answers to all your questions. 

Rum: Does It Go Bad? 

Does rum go bad? Here’s the truth. An unopened rum doesn’t go bad unless it is left exposed for a very long time. Rum is one of the distilled spirits. It has stable alcohol and strong spirits that means you can store it for many years and still be fine. No matter how long it’s kept inside your cabinet, it will be perfectly fine. 

Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum

In short, rum can go bad. The term “bad” refers to the fact that it’ll not harm you while you are drinking. 

Continue reading to learn more about rum storage, shelf life, and info about rums. 

Its Shelf Life

Its Shelf Life

Average Shelf Life 

Substantially, the shelf life of rum is uncertain if it’s stored properly. As long as its cap is tightly sealed, it can be stored for many years. To prolong the life of your rum and maintain its quality, keep it in a place at room temperature, away from light as much as possible. 

Of course, we store rum inside our cabinets or pantries, not in food keepers or food storage. 

When Opened

After opening a rum bottle, it’s recommended to drink it right away or within six months because it can lose its smell, taste, and quality. You wouldn’t be happy with the taste of the rum if you didn’t store the opened bottle properly. So it’s better to drink it immediately. The faster, the better. 


Unopened rum has the potential to last forever, but it must be stored in the proper conditions. These conditions also apply when storing opened rum and can help it last much longer. 

Just a friendly reminder that, unlike in wine and beer, base liquor does not age once bottled. Same with rum. Rum in an unopened bottle should taste the same today as it will in 20 years.

Why Does Rum Go Bad? 

As mentioned earlier, rum can go bad, but the term “bad” is not as serious as you think. It just lessens the quality of the rum. 

Cruzan Rum

The reason behind this is because the liquid slowly evaporates when a bottle of a drink is not firmly sealed. Because alcohol evaporates faster than water, the rum becomes milder over time. Additionally, the oxidation process occurs. The combination of these two processes gradually alters the flavor of the beverage.

How To Tell If Your Liquor Went Bad

Rum, like other spirits, tends to decline in quality once it’s not stored properly. Strong spirits with a high alcohol content can kill most hostile germs and bacteria. 

Bacardi Rum

The expiration date on a bottle refers to the deterioration of the rum’s flavor. Pour a small amount of it into your mouth, smell it, and taste it. If you notice any visible signs of spoilage or a strange odor and taste, discard the liquid. 

Tips On How To Store Your Rum

There are a few things to keep in mind when storing rum. Like any other spirit, you should store rum in a cool, dry place far from light. Keeping it inside the fridge won’t benefit the liquid. 

Bacardi Black with cocktail

Once a bottle is open, keep it tightly sealed to avoid oxidation. When rum is exposed to oxygen, it begins to oxidize, and eventually, the flavor changes. These effects occur at a much slower rate within a tightly closed bottle.


How do I store an opened bottle of rum? 

One way of storing an opened bottle of rum is to transfer it into a smaller bottle if it’s half-empty. More empty space in the bottle indicates a faster change in flavor. Moreover, we recommend using screw tops rather than natural cork – although natural corks are elegant-looking, they can’t extend the life of your rum. 

Can an old rum make me sick? 

No, an alcohol that has passed its expiration date does not make you sick. If you drink a bottle that has been open for more than a year, you’ll almost certainly notice a change in flavor. Alcohol does not expire to the point where it can make you sick. [1] 

How hot can a bottle of rum be stored?

Some experts believe the ideal temperature range is between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The basic rule of thumb for common distilled and other spirits like whiskey, vodka, gin, rum, wine, and tequila is to keep them in a cool dark place. But, what’s the difference between rum and whiskey?

In Summary 

To sum up, rum preserves for a long time and doesn’t go bad even after it’s been opened. Like wines, rums are safe to drink even after opening. The shelf life of rum can only last if it’s saved properly; if not, it loses its taste.

Also, remember that after opening a bottle of rum, close it tightly and transfer it into smaller bottles if it’s almost half-empty. Lastly, before serving or drinking an opened bottle of rum, make sure to taste it first. 



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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