Does Alcohol Ever Expire?

Many of us have often wondered about that bottle on the shelf that's been sitting untouched for months, maybe even years. Perhaps someone brought it to your house once and left it, only for you forget about it and then rediscover the booze in a vulnerable moment. Or maybe it just hasn't sounded appealing. Whatever the reason, the question arises: does alcohol ever expire? Perhaps you're finally ready to try this stuff, or you'd like to safely re-gift it to someone else. The answer really depends on the particular type of alcohol that is under discussion. Different types of alcohol have different rules regarding their expiration, and we'll sort them out right now.

For example, a cream-based liqueur will definitely go bad, but what about a plain old distilled vodka? What's the rule for wine and beer?  To start, beer does indeed expire, though it doesn't actually become unsafe to drink. Instead, it just tastes pretty gross and loses all its carbonated bubbles (via Firestone Beer). This is due to some of the ingredients in beer, like grains and fruit add-ins, plus the tiny amount of oxygen present that can oxidize the rest of the can's contents. Wine and liquor, however, present a different story.

Liquor doesn't technically expire

Wine, as it turns out, is the most finicky, according to Can It Go Bad? If you have a nicer wine and store it properly, it will keep and age well. Pro tip: store these wines on their sides in order to keep the cork moistened and prevent holes from developing (via Wine Enthusiast). Cheaper wine, on the other hand, should be consumed within a year or two of purchasing. 

Meanwhile, spirits like gin, whiskey, and vodka won't expire because they're distilled, per Spoon University. Even if you open the bottle, the only change that will occur is the exact alcohol content. In an opened liquor bottle, the alcohol may evaporate, leaving your spirits less alcoholic than they were before you cracked it open. The Spruce Eats writes that "unopened, these liquors have an indefinite shelf life" but will clearly change in flavor as time progresses. So, distilled spirits won't expire, sure. But for the best taste experience, you'll want to consume even hard liquors within six months to a year of purchase.