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Can Whiskey Go Bad?

If you’ve ever wondered if whiskey can go bad, the answer is affirmative – whiskey can go bad. There’s one more thing worth knowing – it’s extremely unlikely that it will actually go bad. If you will store it properly, it will be fine for many many years.

Even after opening the bottle it still can be stored for a long time and will remain safe to drink. Would you like to know more about storing whiskey? Read along.

Pouring whiskey on ice cubes
(credit: Adam Jaime)

How to store whiskey

Whiskey should be stored in a similar way you store other liqors – the bottle sealed tightly and kept in a dark place. Therefore, the pantry seems to be the best place to store whiskey.

You have probably noticed that in many movies characters keep an half-full bottle of whiskey on a cabinet, often in sunlight. That’s fine as long as you plan to drink that whiskey within a couple of months.

Storing it in such conditions for a longer period of time will cause quality loss and even though the liquor will be safe to consume, chances are its taste won’t be that good.

All in all, make sure your bottle of whiskey is stored in a dark place or in a cardboard box, so sunlight won’t be able to reach it.

Bottle of whiskey and a glass
(credit: 55Laney69)

As long as the bottle is unopened, you only need to remember to keep whiskey in a dark place. Once the bottle have been opened, you should also remember that it has to be sealed tightly when not in use.

If you’re using some kind of pourer to pour the alcohol, make sure to remove it and seal the bottle after using. When the bottle is opened and usealed, the alcohol is exposed to oxygen, which causes change of taste and, therefore, loss of quality.

The more oxygen in the bottle, the faster the loss of quality. Therefore, if you have a half full bottle of whiskey and you’re pretty sure you won’t use its contents in the nearest future, pouring the alcohol into a smaller bottle is good idea. It’s probably the easiest way to help alcohol in an opened bottle remain of great quality for longer.

Another way of pushing the level of alcohol in the bottle up is using marbles. If you’ll store an opened bottle of whiskey for a longer period of time, follow oneo f the methods to be sure the alcohol remains in great quality for longer.

Whiskey in a clear drinking glass
(credit: Jakub Dziubak)

When whiskey goes bad

As mentioned in the beginning of the article, whiskey can go bad, but it’s very unlikely to happen. It might happen only when it was stored opened for a long period of time (so the alcohol content of the liquid dropped considerably) and some contaminants found their way into the bottle.

Whiskey is a high proof alcohol, so its extremely difficult for bacteria or modl to develop in that environment. That’s why a lower alcohol content is needed to bacteria or mold to develop and that lower alcohol content might be caused by storing the bottle unsealed for a long period of time.

All in all, if you will keep the bottle of whiskey where it belongs and remember to seal it after opening, it won’t go bad. Plain and simple.

Mountains of whiskey barrels
(credit: Brian Taylor)


As you should know by now, whiskey can go bad, but that only happens in some contaminants find their way into the bottle and the alcohol will be exposed to air for a long period of time.

If you have a bottle of whiskey that was opened a few years ago and it was kept sealed in the pantry for this time, the alcohol will be fine. It might not taste the best (especially if the bottle is half empty), but it will be safe to consume.