Liquor Laboratory

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

How Long Does Cognac Last Opened or Unopened

Last Updated on March 28, 2024 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? 

Courvoisier VSOP

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 


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. 


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.


Louis XIII Cognac

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

A glass of cognac with ice

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?
Kirkland XO Cognac

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. 

Frequently Asked Questions (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. 

Does cognac have expiry?

Cognac, if stored properly, does not have a definite expiry date like perishable goods. Proper storage involves keeping the bottle upright, away from direct sunlight, and in a cool, stable environment. Over time, some changes may occur in the flavor and aroma of cognac due to slow oxidation, but if stored correctly, it can be enjoyed for many years without spoiling.

How long does cognac last after opened?

Once opened, cognac can last for an extended period, often several years, as long as it’s stored properly. The key is to minimize exposure to air and light by resealing the bottle tightly and keeping it away from temperature fluctuations. While the flavor may evolve over time due to oxidation, well-stored opened cognac can maintain its quality for an extended duration.

How old is a good cognac?

The age of a good cognac is determined by the duration it has spent aging in oak barrels. Cognacs are often classified into age categories such as VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), and XO (Extra Old), indicating minimum aging requirements. Generally, a good cognac has undergone a lengthier aging process, contributing to a more complex and refined flavor profile.

Does cognac get darker with age?

Yes, cognac tends to get darker with age. The aging process in oak barrels allows the spirit to interact with the wood, extracting compounds that contribute color, flavors, and aromas. Over time, the color of cognac deepens, ranging from pale gold in younger expressions to rich amber or mahogany in well-aged varieties. This darkening is a natural and expected phenomenon in the maturation of cognac.

Is it okay to refrigerate cognac?

Refrigerating cognac is generally not recommended, as it may lead to certain undesirable effects. Cognac is best enjoyed at slightly warmer temperatures, which allows its complex flavors and aromas to fully develop. Storing cognac in a cool, dark place away from temperature fluctuations, such as a wine cellar or a cabinet, is more suitable for preserving its quality over time.

How can you tell if cognac is good?

Several factors can help determine if cognac is of high quality. Examining the label for an indication of age, such as VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), or XO (Extra Old), provides insight into its maturation. Additionally, checking the producer’s reputation, looking for a well-sealed cork, and inspecting the color (ranging from pale gold to deep amber) can all contribute to assessing the overall quality of cognac.

How do you store old cognac?

Storing old cognac requires attention to conditions that prevent degradation. Keep the bottle upright to minimize oxidation through the cork, store it in a cool and dark place away from direct sunlight and temperature fluctuations, and ensure a stable environment to preserve the delicate balance of flavors that come with extended aging.

How can you tell how old cognac is?

Determining the age of cognac involves examining the label for specific classifications. The terms VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), and XO (Extra Old) indicate different minimum aging requirements. VS denotes a minimum of two years, VSOP requires at least four years, and XO implies a more extended aging period. Additionally, some cognacs provide the exact age on the label, offering a clear indication of how long the spirit has matured in oak barrels.

What happens when you age cognac?

When cognac undergoes the aging process, it undergoes a transformative journey in oak barrels. Over time, the spirit interacts with the wood, absorbing compounds that contribute to its color, flavor, and aroma. Cognac becomes more nuanced, gaining complexity, richness, and a smoother texture. The aging process allows for the harmonious blending of various elements, resulting in a well-balanced and refined spirit.

Can you drink cognac straight?

Absolutely, cognac is often enjoyed straight, allowing connoisseurs to savor its intricate flavors and aromas without dilution. Sipping cognac neat provides an opportunity to appreciate the nuances developed during the aging process, revealing the spirit’s complexity, warmth, and the subtle interplay of fruity, floral, and oaky notes.

Is 20 year old brandy still good?

A 20-year-old brandy can still be of exceptional quality, and its goodness depends on factors such as storage conditions and the initial quality of the spirit. Properly stored in a cool, dark place and away from temperature fluctuations, a well-aged brandy can retain or even enhance its flavor, offering a rich and complex drinking experience.

Is liquor good after 20 years?

The quality of liquor after 20 years varies depending on the type of spirit, storage conditions, and the initial characteristics of the beverage. Some spirits, particularly those with higher alcohol content like whiskey, brandy, or certain liqueurs, can age gracefully, developing more complex and nuanced profiles. However, proper storage is crucial, and not all liquors benefit from extended aging. Factors such as exposure to light, temperature fluctuations, and the quality of the original product influence the outcome. It’s advisable to assess each bottle individually and, if well-maintained, some liquors can indeed be enjoyable even after two decades or more.Top of Form

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.   


  1. Ideal Temperature for Alcoholic Beverages
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