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How Long Does Whiskey Last Unopened? (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on November 29, 2022 by Lydia Martin

It would always be a treat to open your favorite whiskey bottles and enjoy them with your friends and family. However, are the whiskey bottles safe when unopened for a long time?

How long does whiskey last unopened? Keep reading to know the answer.

How Long Does Unopened Whiskey Last?

Jack Daniel's Old No. 7

Although it’s generally believed that an unopened bottle of whiskey can last forever, this depends on the conditions of the bottle. For instance, how you store the whiskey may affect its longevity.

Exposure to ultraviolet rays from sunlight for an extended period can cause the organic compounds in an unopened bottle of whiskey to break down. It may also result in the loss of its distinctive flavors and aroma.

Free radicals produced by UV light can also damage the taste and appearance of the whiskey. In addition, exposure to sunlight can also cause evaporation, which reduces the amount of whiskey in the bottle.

Does Unopened Whiskey Go Bad? 

According to our spirit experts, unopened whiskey does not go bad. In fact, an unopened bottle of whiskey lasts up to 10 years or more as long as you store them properly. 

When it comes to opened bottles of whiskey, it can last for up to two years if it’s half full. However, if it’s less than a quarter full, it can potentially last for up to six months. But take note, whiskey may oxidize quicker if there is a higher oxygen level in the bottle.  

Does It Age In The Bottle?

Irish Whiskey

Unlike wine, whiskey doesn’t age in the bottle. It’s simply a product aged in a cask for 12 years before it’s poured into a bottle. It will not deteriorate or improve while in the bottle like wine does, and it should be kept in ideal conditions. But how long can whiskey stay in a decanter?

Reasons It Might Change Even When Unopened 

Reasons It Might Change Even When Unopened 

Loose Cork/Screw Cap

One factor causing bad changes in whiskey is the loose corks or screw caps. Whiskeys are typically sealed by corks or screw caps, which secures the air in the bottle while preventing too much air oxygen from going through inside. If there’s too much oxygen air in the bottle, it can change the flavor and smell of the spirit. 

When the whiskey smells bad with a strange taste, chances are, the seal is already loose. 

Exposed To Sunlight

As mentioned earlier, exposure to sunlight can damage unopened bottles (and even opened bottles) of whiskey. Also, too much exposure to light can degrade the open bottle of whiskey, causing discoloration, especially for brown spirits. 

The sunlight overheating the bottle causes evaporation. And as a result, the whiskey bottle may taste “off” – while making it smell like plastic or rubber. 

Read: Will Fine Whiskey Age Overnight?

Fluctuating Temperature

Our spirit professionals emphasized that whiskey bottles must be kept at room temperature.

It must not be too cold or too hot as it can cause bad reactions to your old whiskey. Storing the whiskey in cold conditions can degrade the nuanced flavors of the spirit. 

Also, when you store whiskey (even an opened bottle) in too hot conditions, it can adversely affect the quality of the drink.

Since heat causes evaporation of the spirit, the whiskey expands and lowers the level of whiskey remaining, affecting the seal. Once the seal ruptures, this may cause more negative reactions in the whiskey bottle. 

Read: Does Whiskey Get Better With Age?

Tips To Make Unopened Whiskey Last Longer

Tips To Make Unopened Whiskey Last Longer

  • Store bottles upright and away from direct sunlight. 
  • You can keep it on the bottom shelf of a pantry or in a root cellar. 
  • Ideally, whiskey should only be stored upright in a cool room. This will allow them to retain their quality and life span. 
  • If you’re planning on keeping it for a long time, it’s important to limit the amount of oxygen that reaches it to prevent oxidation. 
  • You may invest in a vacuum sealer, or you can transfer the whiskey into smaller bottles. 
  • Many collectors use a product called Private Reserve to extend the shelf life of a whiskey bottle by slowing the process of oxidation [1].

FAQs 

Can an old, unopened whiskey make you sick?

Not really. An old, unopened whiskey bottle cannot make you sick. You can only get a duller taste if you drink an old liquor bottle kept in poor condition. 

Does whiskey last longer when stored unopened?

Yes, whiskey can last longer when stored unopened as long as you make sure that you’re keeping it in ideal conditions with enough air and temperature. 

Key Takeaways

Whiskey stored correctly can last 10 years or more. With ideal room conditions, your favorite whiskey can last longer without worrying about getting a milder taste or losing its flavors. 

With this quick guide, you can now start or continue your whiskey collection. Just make sure your precious spirits – be it Scotch, beer, or any alcohol – are kept properly, so you can enjoy them for a long time. 

Reference: 

  1. https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Analytical_Chemistry/Supplemental_Modules_(Analytical_Chemistry)/Electrochemistry/Redox_Chemistry/Definitions_of_Oxidation_and_Reduction

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