Bourbon is the spirit of whiskey that has been aged in oak barrels. The best bourbons are made with a mash bill consisting mostly of corn, wheat and malted barley to create a sweet flavor profile. In contrast, rye-heavy whiskeys such as Canadian whiskies have an earthier character due to their higher rye content. Can Bourbon go bad?
Bourbon is a type of whiskey, which is made from grains like rye and corn. Bourbon can go bad if it’s exposed to heat or light for too long.
Bourbon isn’t exactly recognized for being a drink that can be consumed in one sitting. Unless, of course, you’re doing it with a group of pals. And if you just drink bourbon once in a while, the half-empty bottle will likely linger in your cellar for a long time. And when you find it after a half-year, it’s only natural to wonder whether it’ll go bad.
Perhaps you received an expensive bottle of bourbon as a present and want to keep it for a longer period of time so it improves. If that’s the case, I’m sorry to say it won’t work since bourbon doesn’t mature in the bottle.
This page is for you if you have any queries regarding spoilage, shelf life, or how to preserve this kind of whiskey. Let’s start with the question of whether or not bourbon oxidizes.
On a wooden table, a glass of bourbon
Is it possible for Bourbon to get tainted?
Well, it most likely can, at least in theory. If you leave the bottle open and put a lot of impurities inside, it may become bad after a dozen years. However, if you store bourbon in a sealed container, it won’t go bad.
Bourbon, like other varieties of whiskey or distilled alcohol in general, does not go bad. Because of the alcohol presence, the beverage is secure against germs that may ruin it. However, if you discover that your bourbon has grown an off-odor or has abruptly altered in flavor, toss it. It’s quite rare, but if it does, treat it like you would any other form of food.
Does the fact that it doesn’t spoil imply that it will continue in excellent condition indefinitely? Certainly not. Allow me to explain.
Glasses of bourbon
When it comes to Bourbon, how long does it last?
Let’s speak about the aging process and how it works for bourbon before we get into shelf life. Allow me to elaborate on the fact that bourbon does not mature after it is bottled.
Bourbon is matured in fresh, charred oak barrels ([WIKI]), and the process stops once it is removed from the barrel. It doesn’t improve or gain flavor after bottling, like vodka, rum, and other spirits. So keeping it for years isn’t really a good idea. Unless, of course, it’s a valuable bottle that you intend to sell for a higher price. But if you’re not familiar with bourbon, I wouldn’t recommend it.
The best way to think about bourbon is that it freezes in time after it’s been bottled until you open it for the first time. So, if you had one that was bottled ten years ago and you open it today, the alcohol should be almost identical to what it was ten years ago. And if you didn’t open it today and instead elected to keep it for another ten years, nothing would have changed in the next decade. Things alter a little as you open the bottle for the first time.
When you open the bottle, the alcohol is exposed to fresh air, releasing some of the most volatile chemicals. For all whiskeys, the same phenomenon occurs. That is why some individuals like the whiskey the following day after opening it.
When it comes to shelf life, there are two things that alter after the bottle is opened. To begin with, even a well sealed container will experience some evaporation over time. And, since alcohol evaporates more quickly than water, it will gradually lose its potency. Of course, unless you leave the bottle open for a few days, you won’t notice any evaporation effects until years.
The existence of oxygen is the second factor. Spirits take on a different flavor when exposed to oxygen. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever left an unfinished glass of whiskey out overnight. It doesn’t have the same flavor, which is due to evaporation and oxidation on steroids. So now you know what may happen if you don’t care after your opened bottle of bourbon properly.
A Bourbon barrel’s lid
In other words, the more oxygen in the bottle, the faster the flavor of the alcohol changes. If you open the bottle, pour yourself a glass, then put it back in storage, the bourbon should keep its taste for years. However, if the bottle just holds a sip or two of whiskey, the flavor will quickly deteriorate. In a year’s time, this bourbon may not taste as good as it does today. Fortunately, there are various storing techniques that may extend the life of this alcoholic beverage.
Let’s go over what we spoke about in terms of shelf life. Bourbon has a long shelf life provided it hasn’t been opened. The alcohol should be as good as new as long as the seal is intact. As soon as you open the bottle, the quality of the drink begins to deteriorate. The rate of deterioration is determined by how the alcohol is stored and how much is left in the bottle. The longer the bourbon lasts, the closer the bottle is to being completely empty.
Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how long an opened bottle will taste good. There are too many factors to consider, and it’s also a question of personal choice. Some of you may be very sensitive to the taste, noticing even the tiniest difference and deciding to eliminate it. Others, on the other hand, are less sensitive and will drink even “stale” bourbon.
Now that you know that, let’s speak about how to care for your bourbon so it lasts as long as possible, even if you opened it a long time ago.
rpavich’s image was used under a Creative Commons license.
What Is The Best Way To Store Bourbon?
It’s not difficult to keep bourbon that hasn’t been opened. After that, store the bottle in a dark, cool location. It may sit for years in a pantry or kitchen closet and be just fine.
There are a few things to keep in mind after you’ve opened the bottle. To begin, keep the bottle securely closed while not in use. I understand that crystal whiskey decanters look great in a liquor cabinet, but they seldom produce a decent seal. It’s generally OK to use one of these if you plan to complete the bottle within a few months. Keep it bottled if you want it to last a long time.
The bottle should also not be exposed to direct sunlight. Even if you choose for a liquor cabinet, be sure the booze isn’t exposed to direct sunlight during the day. As previously said, a dark cabinet is ideal.
Consider moving the alcohol to a smaller bottle if the bottle is less than half-full. Remember how I said how oxygen affects taste? The goal of this method is to lessen the impact. Of course, you should only do this if you want to preserve the bourbon for a long period. It’s not worth it if you’re just going to complete it in a few months.
Last but not least, there’s the issue of temperature. Almost all alcohols like to be kept in a cold environment and dislike temperature changes. The same goes for bourbon. You may refrigerate it if you like to serve it cold. Alternatively, instead of cooling it, serve it on the rocks. But keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated after it’s been opened.
Putting it all together in a nutshell
- The shelf life of unopened bourbon is almost infinite.
- Once the bottle is opened, the alcohol begins to deteriorate slowly, depending on whether it is sealed and how much is in the bottle.
- Pour the liquid into a smaller container if you want to keep a less-than-half-full bottle for a long time.
Bourbon is a type of whiskey that’s made from a fermented grain mash. This process gives it its distinctive flavor, color and aroma. However, if you’re not careful, it can go bad. Reference: what does bad bourbon taste like.
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