Does Whiskey Go Bad?

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Whiskey is a distilled alcohol, created from the fermentation of grains.

It’s also called “whisky” or “uisge beatha” (pronounced oo-zhuh-gah beh-th).

The oldest known recipe dates back to 1740 BC and was discovered on a clay tablet found in Mesopotamia.

The word “whiskey” comes from the Irish Gaelic uisce beatha (pronounced wee-shuh-beth) meaning water of life.

This is because the original spirit used in the distilling process was water.

Whiskey is distilled from fermented grains like barley, corn, rye, wheat, oats, and malt.

Does Whiskey Go Bad

Does whiskey go bad

There are two types of whiskeys: single-malt and blended.

Single-malts are produced using only one type of grain, while blended whiskeys use multiple grains.

Blended whiskeys usually contain more than 100 different ingredients including caramel coloring, fruit flavors, and other flavor enhancers.

Single-malts can last for decades, but blended whiskeys will have a shorter shelf life due to their complex nature.

In fact, some experts believe that the longer a whiskey ages, the more likely it is to become stale.

Some people even say that whiskey becomes “bad” after five years or so, but there isn’t any scientific evidence to support these claims.

So what causes whiskey to go bad?

Well, there are many factors. Here are three possibilities:

  • Alcohol levels
  • Microbiological contamination
  • Storage conditions

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

1. Alcohol Levels

When you buy a bottle of whiskey, you may see the alcohol percentage listed as proof.

Proof is the measurement of how much alcohol is in a given volume of liquid.

For example, 10% ABV means that there are 10 parts per million (ppm) of alcohol in the liquid.

In general, the higher the proof, the stronger the taste.

However, there are exceptions.

If whiskey has a high enough proof, then it could actually be too strong to drink.

So, what exactly constitutes “too strong”?

Many people think that whiskey with a proof over 150 is too strong, but there aren’t any official guidelines.

According to the American Beverage Association, however, most whiskeys fall between 40% and 125%.

Most blends are around 80% ABV, but there are some brands that top out at 140%.

2. Microbiological Contamination

As we mentioned earlier, some people believe that whiskey goes bad because of its alcohol content.

But what exactly makes whiskey bad?

Some experts claim that whiskey contains harmful bacteria.

These microorganisms can cause serious health problems like food poisoning, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.

While some of these strains don’t pose a threat to humans, others can lead to severe illness or death.

Most of the time, though, these microbes are harmless.

They’re just part of the normal bacterial flora living in our intestines and stomachs.

Some people believe that drinking whiskey increases your risk of contracting these harmful microorganisms.

Others simply think that they make the whiskey taste better.

But according to the FDA, there is no scientific evidence to support either theory.

In fact, the agency says that there is no way to prevent these contaminants from entering the barrel during production.

Even if the barrels were sterilized before being filled, the bacteria would still survive.

3. Storage Conditions

If whiskey doesn’t go bad because of its alcohol content or the presence of harmful microbes, what about storage conditions?

A lot of people store their bottles of whiskey in their basements or closets.

Unfortunately, the temperature down there is often quite cold.

As a result, the whiskey can freeze and thaw repeatedly.

When this happens, the chemicals inside the glass change shape, causing them to break down into smaller pieces.

This is why it’s important to keep your whiskey in a cool place.

You should never expose it to temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you live somewhere with extreme weather or where it gets really hot and humid, you might want to consider storing your whiskey in a cooler instead.

Also, don’t leave your whiskey unattended or open for long periods of time.

That’s especially true when you’ve got a few drinks inside.

If someone else opens up the bottle, they may accidentally pour the contents onto themselves.

How long does whiskey last?

A bottle of premium single malt Scotch whisky can cost up to $200.

A standard bottle of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is about $20.

That means a bottle of single malt Scotch costs more than $1,000 while a bottle of Jack Daniel’s could set you back just $10.

So how much longer will these whiskies last?

That depends on the age of the whiskey and the storage conditions.

If you want to know how long your favorite whiskey will last, we have two choices for you.

What causes whiskey to go bad?

It’s not just any old whiskey that goes bad.

Most whiskeys are aged for at least three years before they reach their final destination.

But there are a few exceptions.

For instance, some whiskeys are aged for less than two years and are labeled as “young whiskey.”

This means they have been aged for less than one year.

And many whiskies are blended with other spirits and then aged for an extended period of time.

There are several reasons why a whiskey can become spoiled.

Here are some of them:

  • Poor storage conditions
  • Poor handling
  • Ageing
  • Light exposure
  • Bad ingredients
  • Microorganisms
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Mold
  • Alcohol content
  • Taste
  • Flavor
  • Appearance
  • Color
  • Aroma
  • Texture
  • Cask strength
  • Cost
  • Availability
  • Storage
  • Distribution
  • Packaging
  • Labeling
  • Bottling
  • Labels
  • Storing
  • Selling
  • Distributors

In fact, the most common reason for whiskey going bad is aging.

Aging makes the whiskey drinker think about its past and appreciate what it has to offer.

But that doesn’t mean all aging whiskeys will age well.

Some whiskeys may get spoiled during the aging process.

So how do you know if your whiskey is good or bad? Read on to find out.

How can you tell if whiskey has gone bad?

It’s not that easy to tell if whiskey has gone bad.

As with anything else, there are many factors that contribute to how quickly it goes bad.

Some of these factors include:

  • Storage conditions
  • Temperature
  • Light exposure
  • Alcohol levels

So what exactly happens when whisk(e)y goes bad?

If you let it sit for too long, it will become sour and have a vinegar-like taste.

You might even notice a slight chemical smell.

In addition, if the temperature inside your bottle gets too hot, the spirit can evaporate away.

This leaves behind a sticky residue that looks like a thin layer of oil.

If you’re using a plastic bottle, this will eventually break down into smaller pieces which will then contaminate your finished product.

If you keep your bottle in a warm place, this residue can stick around longer.

But if you store it in the fridge or freezer, the evaporation rate slows down significantly.

In fact, the evaporated alcohol will condense on the walls of the container, resulting in a thick layer of liquid that coats the sides of the bottle.

This is why the label on your bottle should always stay above the liquid level.

What about light exposure?

When whiskey is exposed to direct sunlight, the temperature inside increases and the alcohol evaporates at a faster rate.

Light exposure also affects the color of the liquid.

If the whiskey is stored in a dark space, the color will turn brown as the alcohol evaporates.

Finally, the alcohol content of the whiskey will slowly decrease over time.

So, yes, whiskey will go bad. However, it won’t necessarily spoil right away.

And since most people don’t drink their whiskey straight from the bottle, they usually only consume a small portion at a time.

That means that the rest of the bottle will still be good to drink.

How do you store whiskey to prevent it from going bad?

When you buy whiskey, it’s usually stored at room temperature for up to two years.

After that, it should be stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, if you want to extend the lifespan of your whiskey, there are several ways you can keep it fresh.

1. Keep Your Bottle Closed Up Tightly

First off, make sure your bottle has a tight seal.

If you don’t have a good seal, air will seep into the bottle.

This will cause the alcohol to evaporate, which will result in a loss of flavor and aroma.

Also, when air seeps into the bottle, bacteria will grow inside, which could lead to spoilage.

2. Don’t Leave Bottles Open

If the whiskey bottle isn’t closed properly, the pressure created by the liquid inside causes the cork to expand.

As the pressure increases, the cork begins to crack.

When it cracks, oxygen enters the bottle, causing the contents to deteriorate faster.

To avoid this, make sure your bottles are tightly sealed.

3. Use A Cork

A corked bottle prevents air from entering the bottle.

But what about moisture?

Water vapor is heavier than air, so it will always find its way into the bottle through the cork.

To prevent this, you need to place the cork in the top of the bottle.

This allows the cork to sit above the surface of the liquid.

You can then place a piece of tape around the neck of the bottle to hold down the cork.

Make sure the tape is not touching the cork, otherwise it will allow moisture to enter.

4. Store In A Cool Place

If you live somewhere with cold winters, you probably know that storing whiskey in the fridge won’t last as long as storing it in the open.

The reason is that whiskey contains sugar, which turns into alcohol, and sugar needs heat to convert into alcohol.

So, while your normal refrigerator might be cool enough to preserve your beer, it’s not going to help much when it comes to preserving your whiskey.

To get around this problem, refrigerators are often set to a temperature between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

These temperatures are perfect for keeping your whiskey fresh, but they’re not the only option.

If you live in a warm climate, you can store your whiskey in a cool basement or closet.

Or, you can even try freezing your whiskey.

Just make sure the temperature stays below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Does Whiskey Go Bad? 1

What are the consequences of drinking bad whiskey?

There are many types of whiskey, each with their own unique taste.

Some are smooth and mellow while others are bolder and more aggressive.

Whichever type you choose, you must know that there are plenty of different whiskeys available for your enjoyment.

But what happens when you buy a bottle of bad whiskey?

Bad whiskey isn’t just a matter of perception.

There are real physical changes that happen when you drink bad whiskey.

Let’s take a look at the effects of drinking bad whiskey and how to keep your whiskey safe.

1. Bad whiskey will have a stronger smell

When you purchase your favorite whiskey, you might notice that it has a pleasant scent.

When you open your bottle and pour yourself a glass, you get to enjoy that aroma.

If you try to save money by buying cheap whiskey, however, you might find that it smells terrible upon opening.

The reason why is because cheap whiskey contains chemicals that give off a strong odor.

If you want to avoid smelling like cheap whiskey, you should invest in good quality whiskey.

You’ll be able to appreciate the nice smell without having to worry about the taste of the liquid.

2. Bad whiskey will taste bitter

As we mentioned before, you want to make sure that you don’t spend too much money on your whiskey.

Cheap whiskey is usually cheaper because it contains fewer ingredients.

As a result, it doesn’t contain as much sugar, which makes it less sweet.

Because it tastes so sour, you may end up wanting to spit it out.

You’re going to need to invest in good quality whiskey if you want to enjoy your drink without feeling sick.

Good whiskey contains more sugar than cheap whiskey.

As a result, it won’t taste so bitter.

3. Bad whiskey will taste metallic

Another thing that you may notice when you drink bad whiskey is that it tastes like metal.

In fact, it actually sounds like metal when you sip it.

While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it could mean that your whiskey has gone bad.

To help you determine whether or not your whiskey is still good, check out the list below.

  • Smell: Does it smell like old socks or rotten eggs?
  • Taste: Is it bitter and metallic?
  • Color: Is it clear or cloudy?
  • Aroma: Does it have any distinct flavors?

How can you salvage whiskey that has gone bad?

If your whiskey has gone bad, there are several ways you can save it for future use.

You can try and salvage the whiskey by storing it properly.

If you keep it in a cool place away from sunlight, it will last longer.

You can also add sugar to the bottles you store your whiskey in.

Sugar helps preserve the taste of the whiskey and keeps it fresh.

You can do this by adding 1/4 cup sugar per gallon of whiskey.

However, if you plan to drink the whiskey within a few months, this method won’t work well.

Another way to salvage whiskey that has gone bad is to add yeast to it.

Yeast acts as a catalyst and turns alcohol into carbon dioxide and ethyl acetate.

This process is called fermentation.

The carbon dioxide pushes the ethanol and other chemicals out of the liquid while the ethyl acetate gives the whiskey a fruity aroma.

However, you should not add yeast directly to the bottle containing the whiskey.

Instead, you should transfer the whiskey into another container such as a carboy.

Once the whiskey is transferred to the new container, add 3 tablespoons of sugar to it.

Then, put the lid on the carboy and transfer it to a warm place where it can ferment.

After about three days, you’ll notice bubbles forming at the top of the carboy.

When this happens, remove the lid and let the fermentation continue for a couple more days.

Afterward, you can strain the liquid through cheesecloth and discard the sediment.

Then, add the strained liquid to the original bottle of whiskey and seal it tightly.

Store it in a cool place.

As long as you don’t open the bottle, the whiskey will keep indefinitely.

Of course, the above methods only apply to non-irradiated whiskeys.

For irradiated whiskeys, you can still salvage them using these methods.

However, you should avoid drinking them after they have been exposed to radiation.

Is it safe to drink whiskey that has gone bad?

Yes, although you might not want to drink it straight away.

Here are the main reasons why whiskey goes bad:

  • It’s exposed to air for too long
  • It’s stored at high temperatures
  • It’s exposed to light
  • It’s exposed to heat
  • It’s exposed to oxygen
  • It’s exposed to moisture

If you buy a bottle of whiskey and it smells strongly of vinegar, then it’s probably been exposed to air for too long.

If it’s dark and cloudy, then it’s been exposed to heat.

And if it’s sweet smelling, then it’s likely been exposed to moisture.

So how do you avoid these problems?

You can store your bottles of whiskey in a cool, dark place.

But don’t keep them there for longer than three years.

Also, make sure that the cork isn’t dry when you open the bottle.

Cork dries out and allows air into the bottle, which leads to oxidation.

You should only ever use a new corkscrew to remove a cork from a bottle of whiskey.

A used one could damage the cork, which would lead to the whiskey going bad much faster.

So always buy new ones and discard them after you’ve finished using them.

What do experts say about drinking whiskey that has gone bad?

A common misconception is that all whiskeys are good for you.

In fact, there are different types of whiskeys with varying levels of alcohol.

While a standard 12-year-old bourbon can have as much as 40% alcohol by volume, many single malts have a minimum of 50%.

As a result, they are considered high proof spirits and are best sipped slowly without mixing them with other drinks.

If you want to enjoy a nice glass of whiskey, make sure you buy a good one.

But what happens when you drink bad whiskey?

Does it taste bad?

And how do you know if it’s going to taste bad?

To find out, we asked three experts who specialize in food science and food safety, including Dr. James Cawley, Senior Vice President at Food Safety Solutions, LLC, and Dr. Charles Farrar, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Food Science at Purdue University, to answer these questions and more.

What are some tips for avoiding bad whiskey?

If you’re drinking whiskey, you can expect your glass to get warm, but not hot.

If you’ve never tried whiskey before, you might find it hard to tell if it’s good or bad.

There are several factors to consider when choosing which one to buy.

Quality – The best whiskey is made with premium ingredients like organic barley, handcrafted copper stills, pure spring water, and fresh peat moss. To ensure quality, look for a seal of approval from an independent third party such as the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the American Distilled Spirits Council (ADSC), or the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV).

Flavor – The first thing you should notice about a good whiskey is how well-balanced it is. A good whiskey will have a sweet, smoky taste and won’t overwhelm your palate. You can check the flavor by taking a sip and letting it sit in your mouth for a few seconds.

Age – The age of a whiskey affects its flavor profile. Older whiskeys tend to have more complex flavors than younger ones. They also tend to have less harsh characteristics. Younger whiskeys usually have a lot of fruity notes while older ones tend to be more earthy. Some people prefer young whiskeys due to their complexity while others enjoy older whiskies for their smoothness.

Price – Just like wine, there is no such thing as cheap whiskey. However, you don’t need to pay top dollar to enjoy a great bottle. Look for a reasonable price between $30 and $50. If you want something a little sweeter, try a blended scotch instead.

Whiskey sour

Whiskey sour

Dust off that cocktail shaker and mix yourself – or your dinner party guests – a classic whiskey sour. You can make it without egg white, but it won't be as silky
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Calories 157 kcal


  • 50 ml bourbon
  • 35 ml lemon juice
  • 12½ ml sugar syrup
  • 2 Angostura
  • ½ egg white
  • ice
  • 50 piece of lemon


  • Shake all of the ingredients (except for the lemon zest) hard with ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Squeeze the lemon zest, shiny side down over the drink so the scented oils spray across the surface. Discard the zest, add the garnish and serve.



Calories: 157kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 2gFat: 0.3gSaturated Fat: 0.03gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 27mgPotassium: 132mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 13IUVitamin C: 40mgCalcium: 16mgIron: 0.4mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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