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Old 05-21-2018, 07:56 AM
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Does booze " go bad " ?

I have quite a little collection of large size bottles of various alcohol.

Booze left over from my wedding and that was 8 years ago.

They've been sitting in the garage that gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

Almost all of them have been opened. Should I be pouring the stuff down the drain or does liquor stay good even if a bottle has been opened and exposed to serious heat for months on end?

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Old 05-21-2018, 08:24 AM
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You ever heard of vinegar? It isn't only wine and cider that can make it; those two sources just happen to be relatively cheap and produce results that are commercially viable.

Depending on the type of liquor and how it's been kept, it will have gone bad. Or not. Won't know until you check. It's got to do not just with the temperatures but also with whether the right bacteria ever got in. We just can't tell from this side of the screen.

Last edited by Nava; 05-21-2018 at 08:27 AM.
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Old 05-21-2018, 08:28 AM
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I can say from experience that gin, vodka, and scotch are perfectly fine if kept well sealed and within reasonable temperatures. Wine, however, is another matter. Perhaps that's because it is very hard to properly reseal a decanted bottle of wine.
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Old 05-21-2018, 08:49 AM
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Almost all of it will be fine. Throw out anything with cream in it like Bailey’s. All the spirits will be okay. If you have some sweet stuff with low alcohol, like under 20% or so, that might be iffY, but I’m not sure. That I would just taste. Your straight spirits are good.
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Old 05-21-2018, 09:06 AM
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In general, high proof alcohol does not change in the bottle. It will stay good through a wide range of temperatures and storage conditions. Cream liquors like Bailey's are an obvious exception. Wine will go bad if stored improperly or if it wasn't made to be aged (this is true of most mass market wines).
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Old 05-21-2018, 09:10 AM
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They're highly unlikely to go bad in a dangerous way but they may oxidize and flavors may go off. I suggest you inventory the bottles, discard anything that hasn't been opened in 5+ years. Sniff/sample the rest to check if they're still palatable. If they are, move them into convenient dark, coolish storage that's more available to you in your daily activities. Hidden in the garage it's "out of sight, out of mind". If you're not going to consume them then what's the point in keeping them around?
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Old 05-21-2018, 09:15 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
I can say from experience that gin, vodka, and scotch are perfectly fine if kept well sealed and within reasonable temperatures. Wine, however, is another matter. Perhaps that's because it is very hard to properly reseal a decanted bottle of wine.
Well, it's not so much that as the amount of fermentables it still contains and its relatively low alcohol content. Acetobacter, for instance, (that's the genus of bacteria that makes vinegar), only tolerates up to about a 15-20% alcohol environment (usually, for making vinegar, you keep it down to 7%-8% for a vigorous and sustainable conversion of ethanol into acetic acid. If you look at articles for homemade vinegar, they will often ask you to water down your wine for this reason.) Plus you have all sorts of other stuff other than ethanol and water in fermented products like beer or wine that are susceptible to secondary fermentations with the right/wrong bacteria or yeast, which you don't have in distilled spirits. In liqueurs, though, you do have a lot of sugar, which is eminently fermentable, but a high enough alcohol concentration will keep that from happening. Looking online, it doesn't even seem like sweeter liqueurs like triple sec have a problem years after opening, but I drew the line at 20% just in case.
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Old 05-21-2018, 09:20 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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I suggest you inventory the bottles, discard anything that hasn't been opened in 5+ years.
Wait, are you saying discarding anything unopened for 5+ years? There's certainly almost zero probability of it being a problem unless its a cream liquor. I don't even think it will taste much off, if at all. If its been opened, yes, there is the possibility some oxidation has affected its flavor (especially with something like whiskey), but it's still probably fine. I've certainly drunk clear liquors 20+ years old and long opened that tasted perfectly fine to me. And as for unopened whiskey, I've bought and saved bottles with the intention of drinking them many years nigh without an issue. Last one was a bottle of Scotch I bought in 1996 that I finally drank in 2011 (at my wedding.) It, of course, didn't age at all in the bottle, but was perfectly delicious when opened 15 years nigh. With opened bottles of whiskey, I don't usually let them go beyond three-ish years before finishing the bottle (don't worry--I finish cheaper bottles of whiskey much, much, much faster than that), but even at three years, I've not noticed significant taste deterioration.

Last edited by pulykamell; 05-21-2018 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 05-21-2018, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Wait, are you saying discarding anything unopened for 5+ years?
My apologies, I should have phrased that better. My intent was to indicate that if a bottle has been previously opened but then not touched for more than five years then it can probably be discarded. This has relatively little to do with any possible deterioration of the contents. It has far more to do with the fact that the bottle and it's contents don't seem to have any value to the OP. If it was any good at the start, if the OP liked and enjoyed it, then it would have been consumed. The fact that it hasn't been touched for years probably means that it has no value to the OP and can be discarded or given away at no loss to the OP. (IMHO of course)

Last edited by Alpha Twit; 05-21-2018 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 05-21-2018, 10:13 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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My apologies, I should have phrased that better. My intent was to indicate that if a bottle has been previously opened but then not touched for more than five years then it can probably be discarded. This has relatively little to do with any possible deterioration of the contents. It has far more to do with the fact that the bottle and it's contents don't seem to have any value to the OP. If it was any good at the start, if the OP liked and enjoyed it, then it would have been consumed. The fact that it hasn't been touched for years probably means that it has no value to the OP and can be discarded or given away at no loss to the OP. (IMHO of course)
Ah, makes sense!
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Old 05-21-2018, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Alpha Twit View Post
My apologies, I should have phrased that better. My intent was to indicate that if a bottle has been previously opened but then not touched for more than five years then it can probably be discarded. This has relatively little to do with any possible deterioration of the contents. It has far more to do with the fact that the bottle and it's contents don't seem to have any value to the OP. If it was any good at the start, if the OP liked and enjoyed it, then it would have been consumed. The fact that it hasn't been touched for years probably means that it has no value to the OP and can be discarded or given away at no loss to the OP. (IMHO of course)
Still a big assumption.

I have many bottles of old single-malts, several of which are more than 5 years old, and I love them all. I just drink them rarely. Literally, a single dram every a couple of months, because I have to be in the mood.
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Old 05-21-2018, 10:46 AM
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Dump them. Life's too short to drink compromised booze. If the bottles are more than 50% depleted, you start running into serious oxidation problems which can negatively impact flavor. You obviously (as stated above) don't value any of the spirits, so down the drain they should go.

gnoitall - Most booze writers and distillers recommend killing a bottle of single malt once it gets down to 30% or so, for the above reasons. You might be in need of throwing a party or two.

Last edited by silenus; 05-21-2018 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 05-21-2018, 10:55 AM
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Still a big assumption.

I have many bottles of old single-malts, several of which are more than 5 years old, and I love them all. I just drink them rarely. Literally, a single dram every a couple of months, because I have to be in the mood.
The OP asked for opinions, I offered one. What he does with it is his choice.

Last edited by Alpha Twit; 05-21-2018 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 05-21-2018, 11:12 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Dump them. Life's too short to drink compromised booze. If the bottles are more than 50% depleted, you start running into serious oxidation problems which can negatively impact flavor. You obviously (as stated above) don't value any of the spirits, so down the drain they should go.
To me, that would be all the more reason to keep them. If I, a steady a drinker as I know, don't really care or even notice the taste difference after three or four years of my beloved scotches, why would a non-drinker care? That bottle is just as good as a new one. Just keep it for your mixed drinks or whatnot. Or, hell, I'll take 'em!

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Old 05-21-2018, 12:05 PM
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I can kind of agree with both of the basic responses here - one of them is more like facts and the other is more like advice - hard liquor, with the stated exceptions, doesn't really go bad, but if it's been 8 years already and you didn't give it a serious thought till yesterday, are you really going to drink any of it.
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Old 05-21-2018, 02:01 PM
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If the seal isn't perfect, the booze might be a little lower proof because the alcohol will evaporate more readily than water. This is especially true if it has gone through regular temperature changes - each time it gets hot, a little more ethanol vapor will be escaping through any tiny leak.

But this isn't a risk to health. The alcohol level in spirits is too high for any bacteria to turn it to vinegar or anything nastier. Go ahead and taste it - large-size bottles from a wedding probably weren't the highest quality booze to start with, so any degradation from evaporation probably isn't too noticeable.
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Old 05-21-2018, 02:12 PM
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I'm guessing that after 8 years sitting in your unclimatized garage, you're never going to drink it, so I'd give it away or throw it away, if I were you. Unless you are a hoarder, then by all means, hang on to it.
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Old 05-22-2018, 10:45 AM
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Hi. Thanks to all for the information !

To clarify: Every single bottle has been opened. Some barely touched, others at 50% drained or more. The one unopened is a Kaluha Mudslide mix. Out it goes- too much cream.

The booze means nothing to me. I only drink tequila. That said because I cannot TELL if any of them are off.

I suppose I could ask around and see who drinks what in my circle, and gift them opened bottles with the caveat that they may be great, they may be undrinkable. The enormous bottle of SKY Vodka is barely touched, for example. May make someone very happy......
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Old 05-22-2018, 11:08 AM
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The SKYY is probably the one bottle that hasn't had much degradation. Gift it to a friend. It will still make a decent vodka for mixing.
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Old 05-22-2018, 11:13 AM
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I had an opened bottle of Amaretto forgotten for a loooong while in the back of the cupboard; it was really thick and disgustingly sweet (just tasted it). Tossed.
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Old 05-22-2018, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
In general, high proof alcohol does not change in the bottle. It will stay good through a wide range of temperatures and storage conditions. Cream liquors like Bailey's are an obvious exception. Wine will go bad if stored improperly or if it wasn't made to be aged (this is true of most mass market wines).
No. If left out in the sun or heat, it does get "skunky" which effects the taste. It will be still safe to drink.
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Old 05-22-2018, 05:49 PM
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... it was really thick and disgustingly sweet ...
IOW, identical to Amaretto bought yesterday.
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Old 05-22-2018, 07:04 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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No. If left out in the sun or heat, it does get "skunky" which effects the taste. It will be still safe to drink.
What will get skunky? That's a beer thing, due to the way hops break down in the presence of light. Vodka, gin, tequila, etc., ain't gonna skunk.

Last edited by pulykamell; 05-22-2018 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 05-22-2018, 07:05 PM
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IOW, identical to Amaretto bought yesterday.
Heh. Exactly what I was thinking. (But, no, I get it. It will concentrate over time as it evaporates so it will be a bit sweeter and thicker.)
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Old 05-22-2018, 07:36 PM
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What will get skunky? That's a beer thing, due to the way hops break down in the presence of light. Vodka, gin, tequila, etc., ain't gonna skunk.
I have a bottle of 12yr old single malt that went what I can only call "skunky".

Not vodka, no.
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Old 05-22-2018, 10:01 PM
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I think 5-10 year open bottles are really common. Back in the day, it was a thing to have a well stocked bar in your home. I knew people who had basement bars with 20 opened bottles of various liquor in stock so they could make any exotic drink you wanted. I'm betting some of the bottles that the host didn't care for had been open for a decade or more.
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Old 05-22-2018, 11:38 PM
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I have a bottle of 12yr old single malt that went what I can only call "skunky".
Me too. I can't remember the brand but it was an excellent highland single malt. I had about a quarter of a bottle stashed away that I forgot about until I moved. The bottle was stored in a nice wooden presentation case. The scotch had gone cloudy. It didn't even look right sitting in the bottle. I tried to open the bottle and failed. It had a cork stopper and the stopper broke leaving cork in the neck of the bottle. I useda corkscrew and mostly got it out, but the remaining cork disintegrated and fell into the scotch. I strained some of the scotch off and tried it. It was awful. I threw it out.
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Old 05-23-2018, 05:25 AM
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Dump them. Life's too short to drink compromised booze. If the bottles are more than 50% depleted, you start running into serious oxidation problems which can negatively impact flavor. You obviously (as stated above) don't value any of the spirits, so down the drain they should go.

gnoitall - Most booze writers and distillers recommend killing a bottle of single malt once it gets down to 30% or so, for the above reasons. You might be in need of throwing a party or two.
Surely thats what teenagers are for?

My experience with even quite nice bottles of wine - I'm very partial to stickies - has been that its better to drink now rather than run the risk of leaving some and forgetting to polish them off until the mega-spring cleaning of the booze cupboard brings them to light a decade later.
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Old 05-23-2018, 08:25 AM
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Some (spirit-based) liqueuers improve with age - I have bottles of sloe gin that I make most years - when they're about a year old, the drink is purple-pink, slightly astringent and fresh-fruity; when they're five years old, they will have turned a sort of tawny brown colour and have flavour notes that are like prunes and raisins - it's as though the fruit continues to ripen after being infused into the liqueuer.
I compared a freshly-made batch with a 'vintage' bottle in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pxXfdHXJuM

Last edited by Mangetout; 05-23-2018 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 05-23-2018, 11:49 AM
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I have no palate, so I don't worry about the liquor being old. After the third drink, it all tastes the same anyway.

Regards,
Shodan

PS - John 2:10

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Old 05-23-2018, 02:50 PM
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How about a jug of Everclear, or some other nearly-pure ethanol? Can anything go wrong with that?
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Old 05-23-2018, 03:50 PM
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How about a jug of Everclear, or some other nearly-pure ethanol? Can anything go wrong with that?
If any air can get to it, it will slowly lose alcohol content, being replaced by water, mostly.
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Old 05-23-2018, 04:39 PM
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How about a jug of Everclear, or some other nearly-pure ethanol? Can anything go wrong with that?

Liver function ?
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Old 05-24-2018, 07:42 PM
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Cream liquors like Bailey's are an obvious exception.
Now you tell me. Where were you 12 years ago? I was sick for days!
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Old 05-24-2018, 09:20 PM
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Dump them. Life's too short to drink compromised booze. If the bottles are more than 50% depleted, you start running into serious oxidation problems which can negatively impact flavor. You obviously (as stated above) don't value any of the spirits, so down the drain they should go.

gnoitall - Most booze writers and distillers recommend killing a bottle of single malt once it gets down to 30% or so, for the above reasons. You might be in need of throwing a party or two.
Are you kidding? After my grandmother died, I took home the contents of her liquor cabinet -- most of the stuff was at LEAST 15 years old, and unopened. And damn, she had some GOOD stuff. Pretty potent, too.

(A Creme de Menthe that was to die for -- I think that was about 20 years old or so. Some apple peach brandy, that was good too, then some blackberry brandy. The Amaretto wasn't too bad either.)
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Old 05-25-2018, 12:42 AM
GMANCANADA GMANCANADA is offline
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We had a bottle of some chocolate cream liqueur go bad last year. We'd opened it about 4 years before and drank a third. It was disgustingly mouldy inside.

Just last weekend we also had a bottle of some lower alcohol berry liqueur that was bad. The bottle was about 50% consumed and it was very oxidized. No cream in this one, just alcohol and sugar and probably artificial flavours. We'd bought it a few years ago during a martini craze and my out of the blue my wife decided she wanted another one saturday night. One sniff and down the drain, back to a Bahama mama!
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