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Can Malibu Rum Go Bad?

Summertime calls for colorful, fruity, and “fun” alcoholic beverages. And Malibu rum is definitely one of them, enjoyed most often in drinks, ranging from easy ones like Malibu tonic to classics such as Pina colada.

But what if the summertime is over and you still have a bottle or two of Malibu in storage? Can you just leave them where they are until you’re back in the mood for some sweet and colorful drinks?

Or perhaps you’re new to Malibu, and you’re wondering if you need to refrigerate it after opening. After all, it’s a fruity drink, so such a requirement shouldn’t come as a surprise. Plus knowing how long it keeps quality once opened would be useful too.

If you have any questions related to going bad, storage, or shelf life of the liqueur, this article is here to help. And to start things off on the right foot, let’s talk about spoilage.

Bottle of Malibum in an ice bucket
Bottle of Malibum in an ice bucket

Can Malibu Rum Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

First off, Malibu rum is technically a liqueur ([WIKI1]), although it’s sometimes called a flavored rum. While the naming conventions aren’t that important, you should know that Malibu has an alcohol by volume (ABV) value of 21%, while most rums are around 40% (80 proof) ([WIKI2]). But even though it contains quite a lot of fruity flavoring, this ABV value is good enough to keep the drink safe for consumption for years.

When it comes to whether or not Malibu rum can go bad, there isn’t one straight answer. Theoretically, if you’d leave the bottle unsealed for a few years, and made sure some bacteria got inside, it’d probably spoil.

But in practical terms, an unopened bottle shouldn’t go off in years if you store it properly. The liqueur should stay pretty much the same for a very long time, so unless your Malibu is 10 years old, don’t hesitate to open that bottle and check out its contents.

Of course, the taste of a Malibu that sat in storage for 5 years probably won’t be as good as the taste of a fresh one. That’s because this alcoholic beverage is flavored and doesn’t have such a high percentage of alcohol that it will basically stay the same forever (like vodka or whiskey).

Bottle of Malibum rum on red background
Bottle of Malibum rum on red background

So far we talked about unopened Malibu, let’s now cover what happens when you unseal the bottle for the first time. Long story short, opened Malibu rum probably won’t ever spoil if you take good care of it. But that doesn’t mean it will keep its quality for as long as “pure” rum does.

Having said that, if the flavored drink changes color, or starts to smell off, throw it out. Same thing if it tastes wrong. Chances of that happening are minuscule, but you never know.

Let’s sum things up. Malibu rum will last years unopened, but once you open the bottle, the quality starts to degrade more rapidly. And at some point, you will probably discard the leftovers for quality reasons. So the big question is how long until the quality is bad enough for you to get rid of it?

Bottles of various alcohols
Bottles of various alcohols

How Long Does Malibu Rum Last After Opening?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one straightforward answer to that question.

The producer says that the Malibu’s shelf life after opening is one year ([MRD]). But as you know producers pretty much always give safe recommendations when it comes to such topics. So chances are you will be able to keep it around and be happy about its quality for even longer.

As you can imagine, there isn’t one set-in-stone period. Everyone is different, and it’s up to your taste buds if you find that liqueur good enough for drinking or not.

But if you have the bottle opened for longer than a year, it’s a good idea to give the Malibu rum a taste before you mix up some drinks. You know, so you won’t ruin the rest of the ingredients with a liqueur that doesn’t quite hit the spot.

Malibu Rum
Image used under Creative Commons from Dondy Razon

Last but not least, if you’re feeling that your Malibu isn’t at its peak anymore, not all is lost. You can still try making some drinks with it, but choose recipes that involve other strong flavors that overpower the Malibu. Like for example pineapple juice or orange juice.

With such a mix you should enjoy the subtle kick that the liqueur adds without feeling that it’s past its prime. Or you can discard that old bottle, it’s up to you really.

Knowing all of that, it’s time to talk a bit about storage of Malibu, so you know what to do to keep that open bottle in good quality for as long as possible.

Malibu and Coke
Image used under Creative Commons from David Martyn Hunt

How To Store Malibu Rum?

Storing unopened Malibu is no different than storing other alcoholic drinks. In short, keep it in a cool place away from sunlight and heat sources. A pantry or a dark cupboard in the kitchen is perfect.

Of course, you can put it into the fridge, especially if you’re planning on opening it later that day, and want to have it chilled.

Once you open the bottle, remember to always keep it sealed tightly when not in use.

When it comes to whether or not you should refrigerate the rum-based liqueur, it’s up to you. Keeping it chilled after opening isn’t required, but it may help retain the taste for longer.

Friends having drinks
(credit: John Arano)

If you expect it to stay around for a few months, refrigeration would be a smart thing to do, but it’s by no means necessary. If it remains in a cool place, it should keep its quality reasonably well too.

One thing that most alcohols don’t like is heat, so if you happen to store the bottle in a warm place, the quality of the liqueur will drop faster than expected.

To finish things off, I’ll leave you with one final tip. It works for spirits, and it could help your Malibu too.

If the bottle is less than half-full, transfer the liquid into a smaller one, preferably one that will be almost full. The less air is in the bottle, the slower the flavor degradation process. Of course, implementing this only makes sense if you expect to keep that Malibu around for a few months at least. Otherwise, the profits will be close to none, and definitely not worth the trouble.

In a Nutshell

  • Malibu rum lasts years while unopened; keeps quality for about a year after opening
  • Malibu doesn’t require refrigeration, even after opening, but if you expect to store an open bottle for a long time, keeping it in the fridge might help with preserving the taste
  • if the liqueur doesn’t taste as good as it used to, try drinks with strong-flavored ingredients that will mask the subpar flavor