Does Bourbon Go Bad? Things You Should Know About This Classic American Spirit


Does Bourbon Go Bad

Although the name sounds French, bourbon is in fact a type of American whiskey. It’s made primarily from cornOpens in a new tab. which gets distilled with any other cereal grain.

Production of bourbon dates back to the 18th century, so it has a long-lasting tradition. For a drink to be considered a bourbon it must be made in the USOpens in a new tab., but bourbon is mostly made in the state of Kentucky. 

It gets its name from the Bourbon dynasty of France. Bourbon is named either for Bourbon County in Kentucky, or Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Both of those got their name from the French dynasty.

Bourbon is barrel-aged, which means that after distilling it’s stored in a barrel for some time. This process improves the quality and taste of the bourbon.  The longer it stays in the barrel, the better the color and taste.

But this fact can raise many questions like:

  • Does bourbon go bad?
  • Is it dangerous for me to drink old bourbon?
  • Can I use bourbon for anything else?
  • How do I properly store bourbon?

Well, you’re in luck because in this article we will answer all your questions about this drink, so read along!


Does Bourbon Go Bad?

Bourbon does not go bad over time, but it does lose quality.

Because bourbon is an alcoholic drink, the alcohol in it kills any bacteria that might get in. Ultimately this means that your bourbon can never go spoiled or rotten.

However, after opening a bottle of bourbon, it does start to change. As time passes, more and more alcohol will evaporate from the bottle. Over time, this will cause the bourbon to lose some of its taste and quality.

It will still be safe to drink, but if you notice a significant difference in taste, you should stop drinking it. It’s not a health risk, the bourbon just lost its quality.


How To Know If Bourbon Has Gone Bad?

As we mentioned already, bourbon can’t go bad. The only thing that can happen to it is that it can lose its alcohol, which leads to a loss of quality and taste. 

If your bottle of bourbon is not sealed tight, the alcohol will evaporate slowly, and air will come in, changing the properties of your drink. If you feel a flat taste, or you don’t feel the burn of alcohol, that means that it has lost its quality. 

It’s still safe to drink, but you’re better off getting a new bottle only because it’s not as tasteful as it’s supposed to be.


How Long Does Bourbon Last?

As we mentioned earlier, because of the alcohol content bourbon can last for a long period of time. There are differences depending on whether the bottle is opened already or not.

An unopened bottle of bourbon can last forever. Even after a hundred years, the quality will be the same as the day it left the distillery. 

Bourbon only ages when it’s kept in a barrel. Aging it in a barrel gives it color and better taste. It doesn’t age when in a bottle, so over time, there will be no differences in quality or taste.

But, an opened bottle of bourbon will lose its alcohol and thus it’s quality. The speed of this loss depends on many factors like how it’s stored, for what period of time, and how much of the bourbon’s left in the bottle.

The more of it that is left in the bottle, the better. That’s because more bourbon means more alcohol, so it will take more time for enough of it to evaporate to notice a difference in flavor.


How To Store Bourbon?

Can Bourbon Go Bad

Because bourbon is a type of whiskeyOpens in a new tab., it should be stored as any other whiskey. 

Proper ways of storing bourbon differ depending on whether it’s an unopened or an opened bottle.

When it comes to unopened bottles, you should try to avoid storing them in places where the temperature changes a lot. Also, you shouldn’t store them where they come in direct contact with sunlight. 

If you have a basement, or a cellar that would work perfectly. If not, you can always put it in a liquor cabinet, or a pantry.

Opened bottles are prone to oxidation because the bourbon comes in contact with air. You’ve noticed a difference in the taste of a drink when you leave it in a glass overnight and drink it in the morning. The same thing happens to bourbon, and it’s because of oxidation.

To prevent this, preserving opened bottles requires some additional rules that don’t apply to unopened bottles. 

Firstly, always make sure that you screw on the cap all the way in when closing a bottle. This is to prevent air from getting into the bottle. Air causes oxidation, which leads to loss of quality, so keep those caps tight.

Another neat trick is to pour your leftover bourbon into a smaller bottle. That’s because when you pour bourbon out of your bottle, there is more room for air to fill it. It would be ideal if you could fill up a smaller glass, so there is as little room as possible for air.


Other Uses For Bourbon

Even if your bourbon loses its taste and you don’t want to drink it anymore, you can still use it for many other things:

  • Delicious food – Bourbon is used in cooking a lot. It’s a very nice ingredient to use when. You can use it as a salad dressing, and. Also it makes meat tender and works as a marinade, so don’t be afraid to add some bourbon the next time you are cooking meat.
  • Mouthwash – since bourbon contains alcohol, it’s effective when it comes to killing bacteria. If you don’t have an over-the-shelf mouthwash, you can rinse your mouth with bourbon.
  • Antiseptic – like any other alcohol, bourbon is also an effective antisepticOpens in a new tab.. It has enough alcohol to get rid of bacteria on your skin. Also, you can use it to disinfect wounds if you get cut or scrape your skin. But be aware that it will burn a bit when you apply it on a wound.
  • Surface cleaner – alcohol is excellent for cleaning surfaces, and bourbon is no exception. You can use it to kill off bacteria on door handles, kitchen surfaces, toilets, or any frequently used item that gets dirty a lot. 
  • Remove dirt and stains – You can get rid of hard-to-remove stains by applying some bourbon and cleaning the stain. The alcohol breaks down the dirt and makes it much easier to clean. It’s especially good for cleaning electrical parts because it evaporates quickly. You can use it to clean components of your PC or laptop for example.
  • Anesthetic – You’ve seen it in movies a million times. Before a guy has to undergo a surgery, or any other painful procedure, he drinks some bourbon. This is true in real life too – bourbon is good at relieving pain, just don’t overdo it. Also if you have a toothache, sip some bourbon, and place it on the painful tooth, it will numb the pain.
  • Rust removal – Alcohol is effective at removing rust from metal. You can use bourbon to make your old car, motorcycle, or any other metal item shine like before.

Does Bourbon Go Bad? – Conclusion

Bourbon will never go bad in a sense that it is spoiled or rancid. The only thing that can happen to bourbon over time is that it loses its alcohol and thus its taste and quality.

An unopened bottle of bourbon can last you a lifetime. Once you open it, it’ll slowly become less tasty, because of oxidation and alcohol evaporation.

The only way you can check if your bourbon has lost its quality is by tasting it. Even if its taste changes, it’s still safe to drink, but you’re better off buying a new quality bottle. You should always enjoy your drink.

Storing it is fairly simple. Try to keep an unopened bottle in a dark place where the temperature is stable. 

Once you open a bottle, be sure to screw the cap on nice and tight when you close it to keep the air out and alcohol in. 

Also, when your bottle gets half-empty, find a smaller bottle to pour the remaining bourbon in it. This will keep the quality of the bourbon at a high level.

You can use your old bourbon for a variety of other uses. It’s effective as a substitute for mouthwash. Also, it’s great at disinfecting and cleaning surfaces, disinfecting wounds and soothing pain.

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