Does Alcohol Go Bad? How Long Does Liquor Last?

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Alcohol changes over time due to oxidation. If alcohol is stored properly, this aging process can result in a better flavor and more enjoyable beverage. However, over-exposure to air and light will ruin alcohol.

This article will deal with hard liquor only.

Can Liquor Go Bad?

Per authorities with, the high alcohol content in hard liquor will keep it bacteria free for years.

  • For best flavor, keep sealed containers in dark cupboards to avoid oxidation caused by light.
  • Store the bottles vertically so the alcohol stays away from the cap.
  • Once you open the bottle, avoid leaving the cap off for extended periods of time and keep the bottle away from light.


Does Alcohol Expire?

The flavor of an opened bottle of alcohol may change over time. However, for most casual drinkers this change in flavor is unnoticeable.

How long does alcohol last? If properly stored, you can keep a bottle of hard liquor for years with no noticeable change in flavor or potency.

Some people store lighter liquors such as gin and vodka in the freezer. Why does alcohol not freeze in the freezer? Per food chemist Janice Lawandi, distilled or hard liquors contain a higher concentration of ethanol than wine or beer.

A beer container will burst in the freezer because it’s got a high water content, which freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit / 0 degrees Celsius. Ethanol freezes at -173 degrees Fahrenheit / 114 degrees Celsius.

Does Alcohol Evaporate?

Once you open the bottle, you will have some loss due to evaporation, but capping the bottle reduces the risk. It should be pointed out that exposure to air is generally not good for the flavor of alcohol.

If you have a special bottle that you’ve opened and want to save the remaining liquor, authorities at Serious Eats recommend transferring the remaining liquor to a smaller glass so you can limit oxygen exposure.

You may lose a bit to evaporation in the transfer process, but you’ll protect the majority of the liquor from oxidation damage.​

Physical Effects Of Alcohol

1) Why does alcohol make you hot? Per health experts at, alcohol dilates blood vessels near the skin, causing you to feel flushed and sweaty. However, it does not actually elevate your body temperature. Drinking alcohol to stay warm during extremely cold weather is dangerous.

2) Why does alcohol make you sick? Your body can metabolize approximately 1.5 ounces / 42 grams of hard liquor per hour. Anything more than that will build up in your tissues. Alcohol can also irritate your stomach lining. Your body will either reject the alcohol by vomiting, or cause any number of symptoms including headache, nausea, general malaise and sleepiness, and sensitivity to light.

Because alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate and can lower your blood sugar levels, the headache and light sensitivity after a night of drinking can be severe. Excess alcohol intake limits the quality of your sleep. Finally, alcohol causes dehydration, which can intensify headaches and cause nausea.​

What Does Alcohol Taste Like?

The enjoyment of different forms of alcohol is a matter of personal taste. Many people develop a taste for a particular whiskey or gin over time, while others avoid hard liquor altogether and stick with wine or beer.

However, there are some basics to consider.

  • Gin generally has a piney taste as it’s made from juniper berries.
  • Vodka should have an oily feel in the mouth and can be rather bitter, but not unpleasantly so.
  • Tequila can cause quite a burn, which is why it’s traditionally followed by a neutralizing lime.
  • Brown liquors including whiskey and scotch have a sweet quality that many sippers enjoy.​

Why Does Alcohol Taste Bad?

Again, everyone has their personal preference regarding the flavor of alcohol. The first sip of any liquor can be a jolt, especially for an inexperienced drinker.

Young drinkers tend to be at particular risk for binge drinking and the related dangers inherent in overloading the body with alcohol. Drinking with the sole goal of getting drunk is a risky habit that should be avoided.

Final Thoughts

Hard liquors offer drinkers a wide variety of options for mixed drinks or sipping cocktails. Keep bottles upright in cool, dark storage areas. Consider transferring remaining liquor to smaller bottles to reduce the risk of oxidation. Enjoy in moderation!​

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.