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What Happens If You Drink Expired Alcohol? (2024 Best Edition)

What Happens if You Drink Expired Alcohol 

Last Updated on March 24, 2024 by Lydia Martin

You’re probably here because you accidentally drank a bottle of alcohol sitting for months or years on your shelf and worrying if it is a serious matter. 

If you’re curious, here we’ll detail what happens if you drink expired alcohol to shed light on your concern. 

What Will Happen If You Drink Expired Alcohol? 

Man Drinking Whiskey

If in rare cases, you drink expired alcohol, nothing much will happen to you other than the chance of an upset stomach. 

Alcohol with 40% ABV or more is less likely to go bad or “expire.” So, whiskey, tequila, vodka, and gin, won’t likely cause you harm.

As for beer and wine, since they’re low in alcohol content, they’re prone to going bad, but not to the point of “expiring.

In most cases, the way you store the bottles makes them go bad. 

Is It Safe To Drink It?

It can be safe to drink expired alcohol when it’s only a little past its “best by date,” but this typically applies to flavored spirits or liqueurs due to other ingredients used to make these alcohols. 

It’s not dangerous to drink expired alcohol, but we don’t recommend doing so. Why?

Because in the case that the alcohol has really expired, the taste won’t be the same anymore.

Distilled spirits, distilled spirits, and specialty drinks will start to taste different, and their original taste may start to fade. 

If you drink expired alcohol, you won’t taste it the way it was intended to deliver.  

Will You Get Sick If You Drink Expired Alcohol? 

No, you won’t get sick if you accidentally drink expired alcohol. The most likely effect is having an upset stomach, which is manageable (unless you’re feeling more than that).

The degradation caused by air and sunlight can alter the colors of alcohol molecules and make them taste dull. 

However, even though alcohol has an expiration date, it doesn’t seem like it will make you sick.

This is because food tends to break down into simpler components as food ages. 

How Long Can You Drink Alcohol After It Expires? 

You can drink alcohol after it expires as long as the taste is acceptable. There’s no definite time for it, but we suggest a maximum of one month to be safe. 

When the taste gets dull, you need to stop drinking the alcohol.

The flavors you’re intended to experience aren’t there anymore, so there’s no sense in drinking them continuously. 

Does Drinking It Get You Drunk?

man Holding Glass of Whiskey

Yes, it can still make you drunk since it still has “alcohol” in it. So if you consume larger amounts, you are still prone to intoxication. 

“I drink when I have occasion … and sometimes when I have no occasion.”

– Miguel De Cervantes, Spanish Writer

As long as there’s alcohol in the drink, the chance of getting drunk is there.

However, if it has really expired, the alcohol content may decrease, so you’ll need to consume more to get the feeling of intoxication. 

What Happens To Alcohol If It Expires?

Expired alcohol tastes dull [1]. 

Hard alcohol loses its color and taste when it goes bad. Various factors can affect alcohol’s flavor and appearance, and one of these is air and light. 

In addition to these, heat can also affect alcohol. An alcohol bottle can potentially reach its expiration date after being left open for a long time.

The chemical makeup of liquor begins to break down, and the bonds between various elements begin to weaken. 

This happens in wine when it’s affected by bottle shock or oxidation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How long after alcohol expires can you drink it?

Alcohol, particularly spirits like rum, generally does not spoil or become harmful to consume after its expiration date. The expiration date on alcohol bottles primarily indicates the manufacturer’s estimate of when the product’s quality may start to degrade, rather than a safety concern.

As long as the bottle has been stored properly in a cool, dark place and shows no signs of contamination or deterioration, it is likely safe to consume even after the expiration date.

However, the taste and aroma of the alcohol may change over time, becoming less pleasant or losing some of its original characteristics.

What happens when you drink expired drink?

Consuming expired alcohol, such as rum, typically does not pose significant health risks, as alcohol itself acts as a preservative and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria or pathogens.

However, the taste, aroma, and overall quality of the drink may deteriorate over time, resulting in a less enjoyable drinking experience. In some cases, particularly with flavored or low-alcohol-content beverages, the flavors may become muted or unpleasant as the product ages past its expiration date.

While drinking expired alcohol is generally safe, it’s essential to use common sense and inspect the drink for any signs of spoilage before consumption.

What happens if you drink bad alcohol?

Consuming bad or contaminated alcohol can lead to various adverse effects depending on the nature and extent of contamination. In some cases, drinking spoiled alcohol may cause mild gastrointestinal discomfort, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, as the body attempts to expel the toxins.

Additionally, consuming alcohol contaminated with mold, bacteria, or other pathogens may increase the risk of food poisoning or other infections.

Symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild to severe and may include abdominal pain, fever, chills, and dehydration. In rare cases, drinking heavily contaminated alcohol, such as methanol-containing bootleg liquor, can lead to serious health complications, including blindness, organ damage, or even death.

To minimize the risk of consuming bad alcohol, it’s essential to inspect the drink for any signs of spoilage, such as off smells, unusual colors, or sedimentation, and to store alcohol properly in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

If there’s any doubt about the safety or quality of the alcohol, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid drinking it.

What alcohol gets better with age?

Certain types of alcohol, particularly spirits like whiskey, brandy, and some types of rum, can improve in flavor and complexity with age.

This improvement occurs due to chemical reactions that take place as the alcohol interacts with the wood of the aging barrels, gradually mellowing and developing new flavor compounds over time.

Whiskey, for example, often undergoes aging in oak barrels for several years, allowing it to acquire nuances of flavor such as vanilla, caramel, and oak.

Similarly, aged brandies and rums can develop rich and complex flavor profiles, with notes of dried fruits, spices, and oak imparted by the aging process.

However, it’s essential to note that not all types of alcohol benefit from aging, and the optimal aging period varies depending on the specific spirit and individual preferences.

Is expired alcohol still alcoholic?

Yes, expired alcohol typically retains its alcoholic content even after its expiration date.

Alcohol itself is a preservative and does not spoil in the same way that perishable food items do. While the taste, aroma, and overall quality of the alcohol may degrade over time, the alcohol content remains unchanged.

However, it’s essential to use caution when consuming expired alcohol, as it may not taste as intended, and there could be a risk of contamination or deterioration, particularly if the bottle was improperly stored or shows signs of spoilage.

Does expired alcohol still clean?

Expired alcohol, particularly high-proof spirits like vodka, rubbing alcohol, or Everclear, can still be effective as a cleaning agent even after its expiration date. The high alcohol content in these products makes them useful for disinfecting surfaces, killing bacteria, and removing stains.

However, it’s important to note that expired alcohol may not be as effective as fresh alcohol due to potential degradation of the alcohol content over time.

Additionally, flavored or lower-proof alcohols may not be suitable for cleaning purposes, as additives or dilution can diminish their cleaning effectiveness.

When using expired alcohol for cleaning, it’s best to inspect the product for any signs of spoilage, such as off smells or changes in appearance, and to use it in a well-ventilated area as directed. If in doubt, it’s safer to use fresh alcohol or alternative cleaning products.

How long can you use after the expiration date?

The period of time during which a consumable item remains safe to use or consume after its expiration date can vary depending on various factors such as the type of product, storage conditions, and packaging.

In the case of alcoholic beverages like rum, which typically have high alcohol content, they can often remain safe to consume well beyond their expiration dates. However, the quality and taste of the rum may deteriorate over time.

It’s generally advisable to use common sense and inspect the product before consumption. If the rum shows signs of spoilage such as unusual odors, flavors, or appearance, it’s best to discard it.

Is it safe to drink expired juice?

The safety of consuming expired juice depends on several factors, including the type of juice, storage conditions, and packaging. In general, commercially bottled juices that have been pasteurized and sealed properly can often remain safe to drink for a short period after the expiration date.

However, the quality, taste, and nutritional value of the juice may decline over time.

It’s essential to inspect the juice for any signs of spoilage, such as off odors, flavors, or appearance, before consumption. If the juice appears or smells unusual, it’s best to discard it to avoid the risk of foodborne illness.

How do you know if a drink has gone bad?

There are several signs to look for to determine if a drink, including alcoholic beverages like rum, has gone bad. These signs may include:

Unusual odor: If the drink emits a foul or off odor that is different from its usual aroma, it may indicate spoilage.

Strange appearance: Check for any changes in color, clarity, or consistency. Cloudiness, sedimentation, or separation of ingredients may be indicators of spoilage.

Off taste: If the drink tastes sour, bitter, or otherwise unpleasant, it may have spoiled.

Unusual bubbles or fizz: Excessive bubbling or fizziness in a still drink or the absence of carbonation in a carbonated drink may suggest spoilage.

Presence of mold or growth: Visible mold, yeast, or other growths in the drink are clear signs of spoilage.

If you observe any of these signs in a drink, it’s best to err on the side of caution and refrain from consuming it. While some changes in taste or appearance may be harmless, others could indicate the presence of harmful bacteria or toxins. When in doubt, it’s safer to discard the drink to avoid the risk of foodborne illness.

Can spoiled alcohol make you sick?

While the risk of becoming ill from consuming spoiled alcohol is relatively low, it is not entirely impossible. Alcohol itself acts as a preservative, inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria or pathogens.

However, if alcohol becomes contaminated with mold, bacteria, or other contaminants, consuming it could potentially lead to adverse health effects.

Symptoms may include gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or other signs of food poisoning. It’s crucial to inspect alcohol for any signs of spoilage, such as off smells, unusual colors, or sedimentation, and to use caution when consuming expired or improperly stored alcohol.

What are the 5 signs of alcohol poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when a person consumes a toxic amount of alcohol in a short period. The five signs of alcohol poisoning include:

Confusion or stupor: The individual may appear disoriented, have difficulty speaking or understanding, and exhibit confusion or impaired coordination.

Vomiting: Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of alcohol poisoning as the body attempts to rid itself of the toxic substance.

Seizures: In severe cases of alcohol poisoning, seizures may occur, indicating significant neurological impairment.

Slow or irregular breathing: Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, leading to slowed or irregular breathing patterns, which can be life-threatening if not addressed promptly.

Unconsciousness or coma: In the most severe cases, the individual may lose consciousness or fall into a coma due to alcohol’s suppressant effects on the brain.

If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, it’s essential to seek medical help immediately. Untreated alcohol poisoning can result in severe complications, including respiratory failure, brain damage, or death.

Can you get sick from drinking old beer?

While drinking old beer may not necessarily make you sick, the taste, aroma, and overall quality of the beer may degrade over time. Beer is best enjoyed fresh to appreciate its intended flavors and characteristics fully.

However, if beer becomes contaminated with mold, bacteria, or other pathogens, consuming it could potentially lead to gastrointestinal discomfort or food poisoning. Signs that beer may have gone bad include off smells, unusual colors, or a sour or off taste.

It’s crucial to inspect beer before drinking it and to use caution when consuming expired or improperly stored beer. If in doubt, it’s safer to discard old beer rather than risk becoming ill.

What alcohol is aged longest?

One of the alcohols that is aged the longest is whiskey, particularly certain varieties such as Scotch whisky or single malt whisky. These types of whiskey often undergo an extensive aging process in oak barrels, sometimes for decades, to develop complex flavors and aromas.

For example, some Scotch whiskies are aged for 10, 12, or even 18 years before being bottled and sold to consumers.

The lengthy aging process allows the whiskey to interact with the wood of the barrels, mellowing and acquiring new flavors over time.

What’s the oldest alcoholic drink?

One of the oldest known alcoholic beverages is believed to be mead, a fermented honey beverage.

Mead has a long history dating back thousands of years, with evidence of its production and consumption found in ancient cultures around the world. It is thought to predate both beer and wine, making it one of the earliest known alcoholic drinks.

Mead is made by fermenting honey with water and sometimes additional ingredients such as fruits, herbs, or spices, resulting in a range of flavors and styles.

What liquor is not aged?

Several types of liquor are not typically aged or are aged for relatively short periods compared to other spirits. One example is vodka, which is often distilled multiple times and then filtered to remove impurities before being bottled and sold. Unlike whiskey or rum, vodka is typically not aged in barrels, although some premium brands may undergo minimal aging or resting periods to achieve a smoother flavor profile.

Another example is gin, which is made by distilling a neutral spirit with botanicals such as juniper berries, citrus peels, and spices. While some gin producers may age their products briefly in barrels to impart additional flavors, many gins are bottled and sold shortly after distillation, without significant aging.

Additionally, white rum is another type of liquor that is typically not aged for extended periods. While some premium white rums may undergo short aging periods to mellow the spirit and enhance its flavor, many white rums are bottled shortly after distillation, resulting in a clear and crisp spirit.

So, What Happens If You Drink Expired Alcohol?

Alcohol doesn’t really expire, and you won’t get sick after drinking expired alcohol. You’ll be at risk of an upset stomach, but nothing serious will happen. 

But while you can still consume alcohol past its expiration date (if any), we highly recommend not doing so, or you’ll taste a dull and flavorless drink.  

Besides, our bodies’ reaction to expired alcohol varies (person by person), so to be safe, you better consume any type of alcohol the ideal way.  


  1. What is the Shelf Life of Alcohol?
  2. Not All Alcohol Gets Better with Age
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