Can whiskey go bad?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can whiskey go bad” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not whiskey goes bad. Moreover, we are going to discuss the shelf life of whiskey, factors affecting the quality of whiskey, and the proper way to store whiskey.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

Can whiskey go bad?

When it comes to whiskey, no doubt that owing to its high alcoholic content it has a very long shelf life and can last for ages if it is stored properly. So it does not go bad in the conventional terms but like every other food item after a certain time, it begins to lose its potency, thus with time its flavor, aroma, and quality begin to degrade. 

Thus, we can say that whiskey won’t have the molds in it (until and unless you intentionally keep the bottle without a lid in a humid environment for a long time for the obnoxious agents and contaminants to enter the bottle) but it will start to lose its flavor.

How long does whiskey last?

As we already said that whiskey lasts for an indefinite time but there is still some time limit in which you can enjoy the best quality and flavor of your whiskey but again it is all a matter of your taste preference, how you like your whiskey to be.

No doubt that the unopened bottle of whiskey lasts for ages but an opened bottle of whiskey that is half full retains its best flavor for about 1-2 years depending upon the storage conditions it is kept into. On the other hand, if the opened whiskey is a quarter or less full, it lasts for only about 6 months.

When it comes to refrigeration, then there is no need to refrigerate whiskey if the only reason behind refrigeration is to prolong its shelf life because a properly stored unopened whiskey lasts almost indefinitely even if stored in the pantry but if the reason behind refrigeration is to chill your whiskey so that you can gulp down a chilled whiskey then you can go ahead.

It is worth mentioning that these figures are just the estimated shelf life of the whiskey.

What is the alcoholic content of whiskey?

Whiskey contains at least 40% to 50% ABV (Alcohol by volume) in its formulation.

Is whiskey safe to drink after the best-before date?

The “best by” or “best before” date that is written on the bottle of whiskey refers to more of quality rather than safety so whiskey doesn’t necessarily go bad immediately after the best before date. It is the time during which you can enjoy the peak quality and flavor of whiskey but you can still use whiskey that is past this date as long as it was stored properly.

What are the factors that affect the quality of whiskey once it gets opened?

Once you open your bottle of whiskey, you will notice that its flavor starts to fade slowly with time. The two factors that are responsible for this gradual change are oxygen and the volatility of alcohol.

There are many volatile compounds present in the formulation of whiskey and each time you open your whiskey bottle, they evaporate a bit.

Moreover, each time you open your whiskey bottle air (oxygen) enters your whiskey that can initiate oxidation reactions in it, thereby decreasing the quality of the whiskey. So the more oxygen that finds its way to your whiskey bottle, the more will be the change in flavor that you will notice.

If you have a whole bottle of whiskey, these changes won’t be noticeable and would hardly impact the quality of whiskey but if you are only left with one or two drinks of whiskey in the bottle then you will feel a noticeable difference in the taste.

How to properly store whiskey?

  1. The whiskey starts to lose its characteristic flavor when it comes in contact with the air and sunlight owing to the oxidation reactions. Therefore to seal the freshness of whiskey for quite a long time we recommend you always close the lid/cap of the whiskey bottle as soon as you are done pouring the whiskey that you need.
  2. Once your whiskey bottle has been opened, it is recommended to always seal or close the cap of the bottle properly to minimize its air exposure.
  3. On the other hand, an unopened bottle of whiskey can be stored in a cool, dry, and dark corner of your pantry away from direct sunlight and heat and it can stay there for quite a long time.
  4. Temperature fluctuations can degrade the quality of the whiskey so you should take care of this.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “can whiskey go bad” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not whiskey goes bad. Moreover, we discussed the shelf life of whiskey, factors affecting the quality of whiskey, and the proper way to store whiskey


Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.