Does Vodka Go Bad? Shelf Life & How To Store It

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A sealed bottle of vodka can last almost indefinitely due to the high alcohol content. Once the seal is broken, oxygen and light will oxidize vodka. If an opened bottle of vodka becomes discolored, or if crystals form near the cap, it will not be good to drink.

How Long Does Vodka Last?

A sealed bottle of vodka has an almost limitless shelf life.

Once the seal is broken, oxygen in introduced to the vodka and oxidation begins. While oxidation alone won’t make vodka dangerous, it can make it unpleasant to drink.

If you find a bottle of vodka on which the seal has been broken, check the liquid for discoloration and look around the cap for crystallization. Both of these symptoms indicate a bottle that should be discarded.

While many vodkas are available with artificial flavors, a desire for more natural flavors has led to an expanded interest in barrel aged vodka, or starka.

Should you find a sealed bottle of vodka that is amber in color, check the label. Instead of being bad, you may have found a vodka that is very good!

While Europeans have been barrel-aging vodka since the Middle Ages, American spirit makers have started creating barrel-aged vodkas with hints of apple, vanilla and chocolate. These premium vodkas are meant to be sipped.

The following video demonstrates a few ideas on how to turn a poor quality vodka in to a better tasting one.​

Can Vodka Go Bad?

Because of the high alcohol content, vodka is not susceptible to spoilage. Left sealed, the shelf life of vodka is nearly indefinite.

However, it will oxidize. If you find an old bottle of unsealed vodka, check the liquid for discoloration (it should be clear) or crystallization around the cap.

These clues mean the vodka is not good to drink and should be discarded.

How To Store Vodka

Many people keep vodka in the freezer. While this makes it thicker and creates a viscous coating of the mouth for the drinker, it can mute the volatiles in the alcohol and make it less flavorful.

can vodka freeze

Per liquor experts at VinePair, since vodka has few volatiles (chemicals that make up a distinct flavor as they evaporate and impact flavor) freezing vodka is a matter of taste.

It’s important to note that home fermentation of any fruit, grain or vegetable is a touchy business. While it’s endlessly interesting, it may well make you sick and could kill you.

  • Fermentation is done with a combination of sugar and yeast.
  • Alcoholic intensity is concentrated through distillation.

Each and every step in the process can grow botulism. Home-brewing may be fun, but it can also be fatal. Take a class and find out how to brew beer, craft wine or distill liquor.

Find out where things can turn dangerous, educate yourself on the cleaning requirements and protect yourself and your loved ones from a completely avoidable medical crisis.

Vodka Can Be Made From A Variety of Starches

While vodka has historically been made from potatoes, the starch gleaned from vegetables can be inconsistent. Additionally, per spirits expert Alex Abramovich, vodkas made from vegetables such as beets and potatoes are often characterized as unpleasant to taste or “medicinal”.

Vodka is best known and most appreciated for being smooth, so grain-based vodkas are more popular than vegetable-based vodkas when the drinker wants a sipping beverage.​

While grain-based vodkas lack the slightly oily feel in the mouth (a traditional trait of potato-based vodkas) the sensation can be approximated by storing vodka in the freezer.

Alex Abramovich hosted a vodka tasting of a variety of imported vodkas. His guests sampled more than ten vodkas and chose Chopin from Poland as their favorite. This potato-based vodka offered a smooth flavor with the requisite oily feel in the mouth.

Vodka is protected by a high concentration of alcohol. If properly sealed by a knowledgeable distiller, it’s safe to drink. Once opened, light and air will impact the flavor.​

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.