Does Whiskey Go bad?

Have you ever been given a bottle of whisky, drank a glass, and then stored it with the liquor for a rainy day? You’re not alone. But have you ever considered if the whisky is aging in the bottle and getting better the same way as wine? After all, whisky is all about the age of the bottle. The older, the better, right?

Are you familiar with the distinction between whiskey and whisky? Whiskey (with an “e”) is the name given to grain spirits made in Ireland and the United States. Grain spirits from Scotland, Canada, or Japan are referred to as whisky (no ‘e’).

This article will give you the best information available about whiskey and if it goes bad. We will answer many questions that may be on your mind about this incredible liquor.

Let’s dive in.

Does Whiskey Get Better With Age?

Whiskey certainly gets better with age, the flavor profile deepens, and the drink becomes more rounded. There is one caveat, this only takes place in the cask, where the whiskey absorbs the flavors of the wood used for storage.

Once the whiskey hits the bottle, the aging process stops completely. Whiskey, unlike wine, does not mature and get better in the bottle; on the contrary, it will start to lose some of its capacity of alcohol and flavor profile once the whiskey has been opened.

It is an unfortunate misconception that whiskey improves with age in the bottle. Once you open the bottle of whiskey, it’s best to consume it in moderation to achieve the best flavors that years of aging have provided for this perfect drink.

Does whiskey go bad if unopened?

Whiskey does not go bad if unopened, but it is sensitive to sunlight, and it is thought that UV light rays break down the organics in whiskey and can make the alcoholic beverage taste funky. The aromas are said to be rubbery and have chemical odors that are not pleasant. 

Storing whiskey should always be done in a cool dark environment. It doesn’t mean you need a cellar, just a cool cupboard somewhere in the home where the whiskey can sit happily.

Does whiskey go bad in heat?

It depends on what you call heat, but the long and the short of storing whiskey is to keep it in a cool and dark environment. Constant exposure to heat will cause the whiskey to lose some of its alcohol content. The angels have already taken their share during the manufacturing and aging process.

Alcohol can vent off while storing whiskey in a bottle. Once the alcohol has gone, you are left with the grains of the whiskey, which will taste strange and unpleasant.

Whiskey is a balance of flavors, alcohol, and water.

At what temperature does whiskey go bad?

Whiskey should be stored between 55 and 60℉. If the temperature exceeds this, then the aromatics in the whiskey may become denatured, altering the flavor profile.

It doesn’t take too long for the process to occur, and after a couple of weeks, your whiskey could be considered bad as the flavors have become unpleasant.

Should whiskey be refrigerated?

It depends on how you like your whiskey served, but the product’s longevity bears no impact on the product. Unless, of course, you live in a hot climate and your whisky is being stored at above 60℉ in this case, it could be a benefit.

Alcohol, in general, is served at room temperature or over ice, but if you like your whiskey cold but not watered down by melting ice, keeping your whiskey in the fridge could provide the ideal drink for you.

Does whiskey go bad in a hot car?

It depends on how long the whiskey is left in a hot car. If you stopped by in the morning to pick up your favorite whiskey before you went to work and left whiskey in the car all day under the scorching sun, the whiskey might be affected if the car has become extremely hot during the summer months.

The alcohol will, however, expand and evaporate if the temperature rises too much. Heat, particularly that from direct sunshine, can speed up oxidation, which results in a change in flavors and a loss of color, even while it won’t cause the alcohol to “go bad.”

Whiskey is delicate and needs to be treated that way.

Does whiskey go bad in the freezer?

If you are keeping whiskey in the freezer to extend its life, there is no need, and whiskey is perfectly fine in a cool pantry away from direct sunlight.

Is whiskey going to go bad in the freezer? No, not really, but the flavors will become distorted and less enjoyable than room-temperature whiskey.

Whenever you go to the bar and ask for whiskey, they never serve cold whiskey, let alone ice-cold whiskey, and this is because the aromatics and flavor profile work best at room temperature.

Drinking whiskey on the rocks is a different proposition from removing a bottle of whiskey from the freezer.

Does whiskey go bad in a decanter?

Storing whiskey in a decanter may look great, but the benefits are almost zero. Once opened, whiskey will last between 6 months and two years. If the decanter has a great airtight seal, the whiskey may last a few more months, but if you haven’t consumed it within two years, it seems as if the taste of the whiskey could be a side issue.

Bottles of whiskey have a finite life of 6 months to two years once opened, and it does not give the whiskey any benefit to swapping bottles. Keep the whiskey cool and out of sunlight, and enjoy a glass whenever you wish.

Does old whiskey go bad?

Unopened whiskey will not go bad if the conditions it is stored in are perfect, such as the temperature, humidity, and light conditions. Now, if you mean old whiskey from a whisky cask lasts any longer, the answer will be no.

An old whiskey from a cask is a rare beast these days, and if you found a whiskey that was 50 years old, it could almost be the holy grail of the alcohol industry. But sadly, whiskey in casks only has a certain life before it will degrade.

Keeping whiskey for decades in a bottle is for people who are not whiskey drinkers and could be thought of as sacrilege in many ways knowing that whiskey is not getting any better in the bottle.

But will it go bad? No, not if kept cool and in the dark.

Can I store whisky sideways?

No, the alcohol content could cause the cork to become dry, allowing the alcohol to evaporate and be replaced with air.

It is essential to store whiskey correctly; when it comes to laying it on its side, it is a big no. Wine gets laid down for other reasons, and the cork needs to be moist, the sediment is supposed to fall to the side, making the wine easier to decant, and the wine is still maturing in the bottle. Laying it on its side extends the area of air in the bottle, improving the wine.

But when it comes to whisky, you don’t want an excessive amount of air in the bottle; in essence, you don’t want the oxygen part of the air that is so reactive with the compounds in the whiskey.

Can you extend the life of a bottle of whiskey?

An unopened bottle of whisky should have an indefinite life span within reason, but an open bottle of whiskey can have its life extended.

Pouring your opened whiskey into a smaller bottle and reducing the air volume in the bottle will help keep your whiskey for longer.

This will do the same if you have a smaller decanter with an airtight seal.

Different types of whiskey

Does scotch whiskey go bad?

The origins of whisky date back to 1494, when a Scottish monk was granted a patent for distilling the brew. Whiskey further developed with the aid of clergy persons. So you could say that Scotland is the birthplace of this classic drink.

As such, you would expect the canny Scots to have come up with the ever-lasting elixir for whiskey, but they have not. Unfortunately, at some point, whiskey does lose its flavor.

The fact that whiskey does degrade when opened is a testament to the priority of the drink. It does not have preservatives other than alcohol itself.

Although whiskey from Scotland is some of the finest to be found anywhere on the planet, plenty of other countries distill a comparative product that certainly gives Scotch a run for its money.

Does bourbon whiskey go bad?

It’s the same story as Scotch whiskey. An unopened bottle will last indefinitely if stored correctly, and once opened, the Bourbon whisky is subject to the same oxidation that Scotch is.

It’s a similar product but uses American grain and is aged in freshly charred wood barrels to mature. This is why Bourbon has a distinct flavor and a darker color than many scotch whiskeys.

Remember, once it is opened, you have a maximum of two years to enjoy the complete flavor profile of bourbon.

Does fireball whiskey go bad?

On the surface of it, Fireball whiskey looks a lot like other whiskeys until you dig deeper and find out that this brand was recalled in Europe for its use of Propylene glycol. It’s not a pleasant product that can lead to certain conditions in some people.

But hold your horses, the FDA approves it, so maybe it was the temperamental Europeans just becoming paranoid when they saw a product used in antifreeze being added to whiskey. At least you won’t be sluggish on those cold winter mornings.

Fireball, once opened, has a life of 6 months to 2 years before it is considered spoiled, much the same as the other products described.

Again storage conditions are crucial to the longevity of the product.

Does Irish whiskey go bad?

Well, ask any Irish man how long Irish whiskey lasts, and you will be told the pure water of the river Liffey keeps Irish whiskey going forever. But the truth is it is about storage, just like the other whiskeys.

Spirits specialists claim that unopened whiskey does not go bad. A bottle of unopened whiskey can survive up to 10 years or longer if properly stored. If a whiskey bottle is half full when it is opened, it can last for up to two years.

But what happens if it’s half empty?

Does Canadian whiskey go bad?

The renowned Canadian Club rye whiskey is famous worldwide but does it hold any secrets that could make it last longer than other whiskies?

Nope, it is pretty much the same. Apparently, the less whisky in the bottle, the faster it will go bad or spoil. This is due to the amount of oxygen in the bottle that directly affects the whisky, and it’s the same for all whisky. Oxidation is the enemy.

An unopened bottle can last pretty much indefinitely, while an open bottle (if half full) will last for 1 to two years, depending on the temperature and light conditions where the whiskey is stored.

Does Crown Royal go bad?

It is the same story as other whiskeys, Crown Royal has an extended life if it’s not open, but once you crack the seal on the bottle, the timer starts ticking down towards your whiskey product and loses its flavor profile.

It does take some time, and you have between 6 months and 2 years to drink the entire bottle. Wish isn’t such a bad deal. If you are storing a ¼ bottle of whiskey, its life will be much shorter due to the volume of oxygen in the bottle reacting with aromatics and alcohol.

If you have less whisky in your opened bottle, it makes sense to have a tipple frequently before it spoils and loses its flavor.

Final thoughts

Whiskey is a fantastic drink with many proven health benefits when consumed in moderation.

An unopened bottle of whiskey stored carefully will last a considerable time, maybe ten years or more, if the temperature and light conditions are perfect. But, it will not last forever. Once the whisky is in the bottle, the maturing process is over.

Keeping whiskey in the fridge is a good idea if the ambient room temperature is high but other than protecting it from high temperatures, it does not benefit the whiskey and may dull the flavor profile slightly.

Should you freeze whiskey? It has no benefit. It does not harm the whisky long term but will suppress the flavor profile when it is cold.

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