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How Long Does Cognac Last Opened or Unopened? (Answered)

Last Updated on August 22, 2022 by Lydia Martin

If you love cognacs, you’ve probably wondered if it’s possible to collect and keep several bottles in your home bar.

But how long does cognac last and what are the factors that affect its shelf life? 

Cognac: How Long Does It Last? 

A glass of cognac on desk

According to our spirit experts, cognac’s shelf life is indefinite. Since it contains a high alcohol percentage, contamination by bacteria or microbes is almost impossible.

However, it does not mean that cognac can retain its flavor and taste for a long time. 

Once it develops an off smell, appearance, or flavor, you should discard it for quality purposes. This usually happens due to the improper storage of the cognac bottle, be it opened or unopened. 

Cognac’s Shelf Life 

Cognac's Shelf Life 

Opened

Once you open the seal of your cognac bottle, we suggest consuming it within six months to one year. The cognac may not go bad, but it may not taste great for a longer time. How long your opened cognac bottle lasts depends on how you store it. 

Unopened

An unopened bottle of cognac may last for a long time when stored properly. Improper storage can expose the bottle to sunlight, heat, air, and oxygen, which degrade and alter the quality of cognac.

Factors That Affect Its Shelf Life 

Factors That Affect Its Shelf Life 

How It’s Stored

Proper storage of the cognac bottle is crucial to make its shelf life longer. We suggest storing the bottles upright so the spirit won’t touch the cork and eventually cause degradation. Also, never expose the bottles to direct sunlight to protect their quality.

Temperature

Decanter & cognac on table

Too much exposure to cold and heat can affect the quality of cognac over time. Do not store it in the fridge or in areas with direct sunlight. The best condition to store your bottles is at room temperature [1]. 

Exposure to Air

When more air comes in through the bottle, the faster the cognac will deteriorate and evaporate. That’s why the cork seal of the bottle is important.

Once you open the seal or the seal deteriorates due to improper storage, air may freely enter the bottle, causing an alteration in taste.  

How It’s Sealed

How It's Sealed

Cork seal is important not just for cognac bottles but for all liquors basically as it helps retain the flavor and taste of the spirit inside. If the seal deteriorates, it’s better to replace it properly and immediately to avoid oxygen exposure. 

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How Long Should You Keep It? 

You can keep cognac for up to ten years or even indefinitely if stored properly. This also applies to older cognacs as they are more fragile or susceptible to contamination. However, we suggest not keeping your cognacs for more than ten years. 

Meanwhile, keep your opened bottles of cognacs for six months to one year only as keeping them longer may alter their flavor.

Does It Go Bad?
Does It Go Bad?

No, cognac does not go bad as long as you store them properly. However, once exposed to harsh conditions like too much heat, air, and sunlight, the spirit will start to degrade, altering the spirit’s flavor and taste. 

Once you smell or taste something off with your cognac, we suggest not to consume it for health purposes. 

FAQs 

Can you drink a 20-year-old cognac?

Yes, you can drink a 20-year-old cognac as its contents will remain safe if stored properly. But, when you notice something off, like its color, aroma, or taste, do not continue drinking it. 

Should cognac be refrigerated after opening?

You should not refrigerate cognac after opening. Whether opened or unopened, cognac should only be stored at room temperature. 

Does cognac get better as it ages?

No, cognac does not get better as it age because once it’s bottled, it stops aging, unlike wine, which improves over time. You can store cognac for a long time if the cork is intact. But, no matter how long it is stored, it will no longer get better. It will only keep its flavor and taste. 

So, How Long Does Cognac Last?

According to research, unopened cognac lasts indefinitely, as long as it’s stored properly. Meanwhile, opened bottles may last up to more than ten years, provided they are properly sealed.

According to the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), it is recommended to change the cork every ten years to ensure an airtight seal.   

Reference:

  1. https://www.sfexaminer.com/our_partners/ideal-temperature-for-alcoholic-beverages/article_95ce15c1-11d6-5d6c-91f8-c518e770db77.html

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