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Jun 19, 2006 11:37 AM

Liquor gone bad?

  • m

While moving, I found a bunch of bottles of liquor (vodka, scotch, bourbon, gin tequila), opened and unopened, which had been stored in the garage and in a storage unit. Neither location is climate-controlled. The liquor is at least 15 years old. Is it drinkable, or could it be spoiled? I thank you in advance for any advice.

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  1. Liquor should stay in good shape for a long, long time even if it's been opened, as long as it's tightly stoppered. I have lots of oddball liquors in the back of the cabinet that get dragged out on odd occassions, and some of them have remained OK for twice that long.

    10 Replies
    1. re: FlyFish

      When my MIL passed on, we raided her liquor cabinet for Seagrams etc, and we even took pictures because you could tell they were really old. But they tasted fine and did the trick. I'm not sure, they figured maybe 15 years old?

      1. re: coll

        I believe I may still have most of a bottle of white Creme de Menthe, purchased as part of an ill-advised experiment with [brandy] stingers when I was in undergrad school some 30+ years ago! I think it's right next to the Green Chartreuse of similar vintage.

        1. re: FlyFish

          Oh Stingers! It has been 25 years or so since I had one. So cold, refreshing and lethal!

          1. re: Candy

            Mmmmmmmmm. Stingers. My favorite Christmas cocktail. The peppermint.

          2. re: FlyFish

            I still have a bottle of Kirschwasser that has the name of an ancient local Liquour store. I got rid of my fondue set in the 80s but every once in a while it comes up in a recipe like Black Forest Cake. Seems perfectly fine to me. Probably like one of those things they found in Egypt in the pyramids and say it's as good as new.

            1. re: FlyFish

              Man, that Chartreuse wouldn't last long in my house!

          3. re: FlyFish

            I recently was cleaning my cabinets and decided to go through the liquor closet, which contains numerous bottles or scotch, etc. which my father gave to me about 20 + years ago. I decided to keep them in case someone in the next 20 years would like some. I also found two bottles of Kahlua and decided to make a white Russian with the bottle of bottle of vodka which I haven't touched in about 10 years. Well, it seemed pretty weak, so upon tasting the vodka, I discovered that it was pure water, having been diluted years ago by my now 20 something year old kids- ( who are not owning up to it ,claiming that they do not remember, but most likely did the deed) I guess I will also get rid of the whiskies, too.

            1. re: LeslieB

              Uh oh! I hope my parents don't go through the old liquor bottles.....

              1. re: LeslieB
                quiz wrangler

                I wouldn't own up to it either, heh heh.

                1. re: LeslieB

                  Alcohol evaporates more quickly than water, which might account for the weak vodka (but not necessarily your childrens' amnesia. . .).

              2. r
                Robert Lauriston

                Alcohol is an excellent preservative so chances are most are still good. Certainly won't hurt you to taste them.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Depends on how much you taste!

                2. "Good" has two meanings: it can mean it's safe to drink or it can mean it's palatable (or both, of course).

                  Alcohol doesn't "spoil" so it's always going to be safe to drink. The flavors could have deteriorated, though, as compounds changed in response the temperature changes and as some of the volatile aromatics evaporated, so it may not be worth drinking.

                  1. If not cloudy at room temperature -- which would indicate contaminants -- the liquor is probably potable. And, mostly full bottles will have changed little. However, there is no such thing as an empty bottle -- what isn't filled with liquor is filled with air. So, oxidation occurs. Over long periods, this can alter flavor. The only way to know is to taste.

                    1. Some finer liquors like high end cognacs can deteriorate with too much air exposure.