Does bourbon go bad?

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

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

Does bourbon go bad?

When it comes to bourbon, 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 bourbon 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 bourbon last?

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

No doubt that the unopened bottle of bourbon lasts for ages but an opened bottle of bourbon retains its best flavor for about 1-2 years or even more depending upon the storage conditions it is kept into.

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

It is worth mentioning that these figures are just the estimated shelf life of the bourbon and bourbon lasts almost indefinitely, provided that it is stored properly.

What is the alcoholic content of bourbon?

Bourbon contains at least 40% ABV (Alcohol by volume) in its formulation.

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

The “best by” or “best before” date that is written on the bottle of bourbon refers to more of quality rather than safety so bourbon 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 bourbon but you can still use bourbon that is past this date as long as it was stored properly.

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

Once you open your bottle of bourbon, 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 bourbon and each time you open your bourbon bottle, they evaporate a bit.

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

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

How to properly store bourbon?

  1. The bourbon 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 bourbon for quite a long time we recommend you always close the lid/cap of the bourbon bottle as soon as you are done pouring the bourbon that you need.
  2. Once your bourbon 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 bourbon 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 bourbon so you should take care of this.

Other FAQs about Bourbon that you may be interested in.

How to store Bourbon?

What is the difference between cognac and bourbon?

What happens when adding bourbon to beer?


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


Does Bourbon Go Bad