Can out-of-date alcohol make you sick?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can out-of-date alcohol make you sick?”, and what is the shelf-life of different alcoholic beverages?

Can out-of-date alcohol make you sick?

Consuming out-of-date liquor won’t make you sick. Consuming out-of-date beer would probably irritate your stomach in the worst-case scenario. 

However, refrain from consuming beer that has visible sediment, white foam on the top, or tastes flat. Wines, other than fine wine, that do not taste better with age, should be discarded once they are past their prime. 

Consuming out-of-date or bad wine won’t make you sick but It is not a very pleasant experience. Since bad or spoiled wine has a vinegar-like or nutty taste. Besides, It develops a deeper color. 

Alcoholic beverages have different shelf-lives 

Factors like processing, ingredients, and storage conditions like temperature, light, and oxidation affect the shelf-life of alcohol. 


Liquor is the shelf-stable type of alcohol and includes gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila, and rum. Before distillation, mash undergoes fermentation. The aging of the distilled and fermented alcohol takes place in wooden casks or barrels which adds further flavors. 

Liquor does not develop flavor with aging and must be consumed within 6-8 months of bottling for prime quality. Liquor bottles should be placed in an upright position in a cool and dark place preferably in a fridge or a freezer. 

Liquors are sweetened and fruity, herbaceous, or spicy flavors are added to it. Liquors only stay good for 6 months after opening. Cream liquors should be refrigerated for a prolonged shelf-life. 


Malted barley is brewed and fermented during which It attains a distinctive beer flavor and carbonation. In the end, flavored hops are added imparting bitter, floral, or citrusy notes to the beer. 

Unopened beer will stay good for 6-8 months past the printed date or even longer If It was stored in the fridge. Beer with a higher ABV (more than 8%) lasts longer than the beer with a lower ABV. 

Pasteurization of beer kills pathogenic and spoilage microbes, thus, extending the shelf-life of beer. Therefore, unpasteurized beer will have a shorter shelf-life than its pasteurized counterpart. 

Unpasteurized beers like craft beer should be consumed within 3 months of bottling for peak taste. Beer should be stored in an upright position in a dark and cool place preferably a fridge. 


Wine is produced by the fermentation of grapes. Grape seeds and stems are added to enhance flavor. Cheap wines should be consumed within 2 years of bottling for best taste. While wine fines taste better with age. 

Organic wines that lack preservatives like sulfites are best consumed within 3 months of buying. Coked wine is supposed to be stored on its side. Unopened bottles of wine should be kept away from light and heat. 

Once opened, consume the wine within 3–7 days for peak taste. Make sure the wine is tightly corked between uses and kept in the fridge. Fortified wines usually contain a distilled spirit and can last up to 28 days after opening If stored correctly. 

Sparkling wines lose their carbonation quickly after opening. Hence, they should be consumed within hours of opening for the best taste. 

After opening, keep the sparkling wines sealed suing airtight wine stopper. This will extend the shelf-life of the sparkling wine. Consume it within 1-3 days for peak quality.

Like wine, vermouth should be stored in a dry, cool, and dark area away from the heat.

How long does Beer last before it goes bad?

It all depends on the ABV content of the beer. Those with a low ABV level will only last 6 months unopened. On the other hand, beer like lambics and stout that have a higher ABV content will actually taste better with age If stored correctly. 

Opened beer should be treated like opened soda. It will lose its carbonation in a matter of hours and won’t be too flat to drink. Therefore, drink your beer within few hours of opening. Meanwhile, store your beer in the fridge. 

What is skunked or skunky beer?

Beer is said to have become skunked or lightstruck when It gives off a skunky or musty smell. It tastes awful. Beer becomes skunked when It has frequently come into contact with light. 

Which type of alcoholic beverage is the best?

Consuming alcohol in large amounts does more bad than good to your body. However, red wine, in particular, is considered to be a rich source of antioxidants.

How much alcohol is too much?

Drinking a single standard drink per day for women and two for men is considered to be a balanced intake. But the definition of ‘standard drink’ varies in different countries. In the US, a standard drink equals 0.6 fluid ounces (14 grams) of pure alcohol (ethanol).


In this article, we answered the question “Can out-of-date alcohol make you sick?”, and what is the shelf-life of different alcoholic beverages?


Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.