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How Long Does Whiskey Last Unopened? (2024 Updated)

How Long Does Whiskey Last Unopened

Last Updated on February 23, 2024 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].

Frequently Asked Questions (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. 

Does unopened whiskey go bad?

Unopened whiskey generally does not go bad as long as it is stored properly. Whiskey has a long shelf life due to its high alcohol content, which acts as a preservative. If kept in a cool, dark place and away from extreme temperature fluctuations, unopened whiskey can maintain its quality and flavor for an extended period.

Is there an expiry date for whisky?

Unlike perishable goods, whisky doesn’t have a fixed expiry date. Properly stored, unopened whisky can last indefinitely and may even improve with age, developing more complex flavors.

However, once a bottle is opened, the exposure to air can gradually affect the taste over time. To maximize the lifespan of an opened bottle, store it upright, avoid temperature extremes, and consider using inert gas sprays to displace oxygen.

Is 100-year-old whiskey safe to drink?

In theory, if the whiskey has been stored properly for a century and the bottle remains sealed, it should be safe to drink.

The high alcohol content acts as a natural preservative, preventing the growth of harmful microorganisms. However, the quality of the whiskey may have changed over the years, and it’s crucial to inspect the bottle for any signs of damage or leakage.

Consulting with experts or professionals in rare spirits can also provide insights into the safety and potential value of such an aged bottle.

Can you drink 50-year-old whiskey?

Drinking a 50-year-old whiskey is generally safe, but its enjoyment depends on storage conditions. If the bottle has been well-maintained, the whiskey inside may have developed unique and desirable characteristics.

However, due to the rarity and potential value of such aged spirits, some enthusiasts may choose to collect or auction them rather than consume.

Always assess the integrity of the bottle, check for any spoilage, and consider seeking expert advice if you’re unsure about the quality before indulging in a 50-year-old whiskey.

How can you tell if whiskey has gone bad?

Determining if whiskey has gone bad involves examining the appearance, aroma, and taste. If the color has significantly changed, there are floating particles, or an off-putting odor is detected, it may indicate spoilage.

Additionally, a foul taste, bitterness, or a lack of the intended flavors can signal that the whiskey has deteriorated.

How can you tell if old whiskey is bad?

Old whiskey can be assessed for quality by observing its color, aroma, and taste. If stored correctly, an aged whiskey may develop richer and more complex flavors.

However, signs of deterioration include a significantly altered color, unpleasant odors such as mustiness or vinegar-like notes, and a taste that deviates from the intended profile, indicating the whiskey may have gone bad.

How do you store unopened whiskey?

Proper storage of unopened whiskey is essential for preserving its quality. Keep the bottle upright in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations.

Exposure to air can affect the whiskey over time, so ensure the bottle is tightly sealed. Maintaining these storage conditions helps prevent the deterioration of the whiskey’s flavor and ensures a longer shelf life.

How long does Chivas Regal last?

Chivas Regal, like other whiskies, can last indefinitely if stored properly. Unopened bottles should be kept upright in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature.

Once opened, the whiskey is exposed to air, and while it won’t spoil, the taste may change over time. To maintain the best quality, store opened Chivas Regal away from heat and light, and consider finishing the bottle within a few years for optimal flavor.

Always check for any signs of spoilage, such as unusual odors or flavors, before consuming.

Does Jack Daniel’s expire?

Jack Daniel’s, like other distilled spirits, does not expire in the same way perishable foods do. When stored properly in a cool, dark place with a tightly sealed cap, Jack Daniel’s can last indefinitely.

However, if exposed to sunlight, extreme temperatures, or air, the whiskey’s flavor and quality may degrade over time.

What happens if you age whiskey too long?

Aging whiskey too long can result in over-oaked flavors, where the wood influence becomes overwhelming, leading to a bitter or astringent taste.

The optimal aging period varies for different types of whiskey, and exceeding this period can diminish the balance between the spirit and wood, negatively impacting the overall drinking experience.

What is the maximum age of whiskey?

There isn’t a strict maximum age for whiskey, as aging effects depend on various factors, including the type of cask used, environmental conditions, and the original spirit’s characteristics.

Some whiskies, especially single malts or bourbons, may peak in flavor at a certain age, often between 15 to 25 years, while others, like Scotch whisky, may continue to develop complexity with longer aging. Ultimately, the “maximum” age is subjective and varies based on individual preferences.

Does whiskey go bad in the fridge?

Whiskey does not go bad in the fridge, but refrigeration may impact its flavor and aroma. Cold temperatures can cause certain compounds to precipitate, resulting in a cloudy appearance, commonly referred to as “chill-haze.”

While this does not affect the whiskey’s safety or long-term quality, some people prefer to consume whiskey at room temperature to experience its full range of flavors.

If a chilled drink is desired, it’s recommended to add ice or cool the whiskey gradually rather than refrigerating the entire bottle.Top of Form

Final Verdict: How Long Does Whiskey Last Unopened?

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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