In this brief article, we will answer the question, “does ouzo go bad?” And for those of you who are not familiar with ouzo, we’ll also tell you what it is, how it’s made, and some other interesting facts about it.
Does Ouzo Go Bad?
The answer to this question is related more to quality than safety; a properly stored bottle of ouzo has an indefinite shelf life, even after being opened.
The contents might start to evaporate after opening, and the ouzo flavor components present in the anis can undergo chemical decay, producing unhealthy compounds, mainly cis-anethole and para-anisaldehyde (1).
but if stored correctly, the ouzo will remain safe for consumption.
How Can You Tell If Ouzo Has Gone Bad?
Despite having an indefinite shelf life, ouzo can develop an off-flavor, smell, or appearance, which indicates that it needs to be discarded and isn’t fit for consumption.
Ouzo is one type of aniseed spirit. During storage, aniseed spirits are affected by organoleptic alterations because trans-anethole, the main component of anise, which gives all aniseed spirits its characteristic flavor, could undergo chemical decay processes. Three main mechanisms were identified, namely isomerization, dimerization, and oxidation. In isomerization, triplet anethole is generated by electron transfer, and its decay produces a mixture of cis and trans isomers. Dimerization occurs via cycloaddition of a cation radical to a neutral molecule and results in dimers formation. Cycloaddition could involve either two molecules of one chemical species or molecules belonging to two different species. Instead, oxidation is the reaction of cation radical monomers with oxygen. Light exposure and high temperatures accelerates these degrading processes (1).
Again, this is most likely to happen if ouzo is not stored properly.
How Should You Store Ouzo?
The aniseed spirits are considered “stable” products, and therefore, they are not subjected to particular care during their transport and storage (1). To retain the quality of Ouzo, store it in a cool, dry place at room temperature away from direct sunlight and high heat.
If you’re storing an open bottle, make sure that the lid is tightly closed when not in use.
Does Ouzo Need To Be Refrigerated?
You should drink ouzo cold, but there’s no need to refrigerate it. Just put a few cubes of ice in a glass, pour some ouzo over it, and enjoy it chilled; the ouzo changes from clear to cloudy (known as the ouzo effect) when the anise in it reacts with ice. At low temperatures (4°C) and after long storage (3 months), a physical phenomenon can occur, which is trans-anethole precipitation and solid crystals can appear. But that depends on the sugar and alcohol concentrations of the spirit. Higher sugar and alcohol concentrations can prevent this phenomenon (1).
What Is Ouzo?
Ouzo is an alcoholic, anise-flavored, dry aperitif commonly consumed in Greece. It is produced after passing rectified spirits through various processes of distillation and flavoring and tastes similar to other anise liquors such as arak, raki, sambuca, and pastis. These alcoholic beverages are called aniseed spirits (1).
Ouzo is made using wine-making grapes that are distilled to form a sort of grappa. The latter is given its distinct anise flavor via second heating (distillation). The distillation of the ethanol occurs with the presence of anise seeds (Pimpinella anisum L.) or anise oil (Illicium verum Hook f.) and local herbs such as cardamon (Elettaria cardamomum), cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), coriander (Coriandrum sativum) and others, that give the local character of the product (2). It is sweet and smooth and features an alcohol percentage of about forty percent.
The good news is that grape-based ouzo does not have any gluten at all, so those struggling with gluten allergies or celiac disease can enjoy it. Also, a single shot of ouzo contains between 100 and 110 calories and 10 to 15 grams of carbohydrates (depending on how much sugar was used in the manufacturing process).
For those who want to mask the distinct licorice taste of ouzo, just add water, mint leaves, lemon juice, and honey to the ouzo and enjoy a refreshing glass of ouzo lemonade! Ouzo can also be used as a cocktail mixer.
Popular Ouzo Brands
Some of the best ouzo brands are exclusive to Greece; however, there are many well-known international ouzo brands as well that ship globally.
Since the quality of ouzo varies significantly from one brand to another, we recommended trying a few brands to decide on one that best suits your taste.
Here is a list of some famous ouzo brands:
- Ouzo 12
- Ouzo Barbayanni
- Ouzo Mini
- Plomari Tirnavou
- Sans Rival
What Is The Difference between Raki And Ouzo?
As mentioned, Ouzo comes from Greece, whereas Raki originated in Turkey.
It’s true that both share similar distillation processes and use pulp grape to achieve that distinct aniseed flavor; however, their alcoholic contents differ.
Simply put, Raki is way stronger than Ouzo.
Can You Cook With Ouzo?
Yes! You can ouzo while cooking to impart that distinct anise flavor to many dishes. In fact, Greeks routinely use ouzo in most of their recipes ranging from seafood marinades to baked cookies.
Overall, Should You Drink Old Liquor?
No, you should not drink old ouzo. Trans-anethole, the main component of aniseed spirits, such as ouzo, demonstrated several health-promoting functions at low concentrations, i.e., anti-inflammatory, pro-apoptotic, anti-metastatic, and neuroprotective. However, during long storage, it can degrade and at high doses, its derivative metabolites show undesirable effects and are considered potentially toxic for humans (1).
Expired liquor, or alcohol that’s been open for over a year, will not make you sick; it will just taste somewhat duller than it originally was. However, if it appears moldy or looks off, it’s better to discard it.
For beer, it will usually taste off and might upset the stomach while spoiled wine generally tastes like vinegar or nuts but both aren’t harmful to health.
In this brief article, we answered the question, “does ouzo go bad?” And for those of you who were not familiar with ouzo, we also told you what it is, how it’s made, and some other interesting facts about it.
If you have any more questions or comments please let us know.
- Vendramin, Veronica, Antonio Pesce, and Simone Vincenzi. Anethole Stability in Aniseed Spirits: Storage Condition Repercussions on Commercial Products. Beverages, 2021, 7, 73.
- Tsachaki, Maroussa, et al. Development of a suitable lexicon for sensory studies of the anise‐flavored spirits ouzo and tsipouro. Flav fragr j, 2010, 25, 468-474.