Does Bourbon Go Bad?

It’s unlikely that you will be able to finish your bourbon in one go – no matter how delicious it is. It is far more likely that you pour yourself a glass on special occasions or when you want to socialize. As such, we need to ask whether bourbon can go bad or not. Let’s find out…

Does Bourbon Go Bad?

No, if you keep the bourbon sealed and out of sunlight, then the bourbon won’t go bad. However, there is a chance it can go bad if the bottle if left open and contaminants are able to get inside into the liquid. 

The alcohol content in bourbon whiskey means that the liquid is safe from microorganism development. It is highly unlikely for ANY of your alcohol to go bad.

It’s important to note that oxygen alters the taste of bourbon. As you may have experienced, an unfinished whiskey left out in the open can taste slightly different.

Essentially, the less oxygen you can allow into the bottle, the better. Close the bottle as soon as you can to minimize oxygen contamination. Drank nearly all of your bourbon? Then pour the bourbon into a smaller vessel. Doing this will slow the degradation process.

How to Store Bourbon?

Like most food and drink, bourbon should be stored in a cool and dark environment. The kitchen cupboard is more than fine.

Now, those glass whiskey decanters look amazing, but they aren’t the best vessels for storing bourbon. They are usually made from nothing but glass, which doesn’t provide a good seal. Whiskey decanters are fine if you take less than a few months to finish your bottle, but if you plan on keeping the bourbon for over a year, then a bottle with a fixed/rubber seal is preferred.

Once your bourbon is inside an appropriate vessel, ensure it isn’t positioned in direct sunlight. Keep it in a dark place, like your kitchen cupboard.

Lastly, limit the amount of oxygen in the bottle, as this can affect the taste. Transfer the bourbon into a smaller bottle when you have consumed half of it. This will keep the bourbon tasty for a longer time.


To sum up, unopened bourbon doesn’t have a shelf-life. As long as you keep the bottle sealed, you will be able to enjoy your bourbon for years and years. It is recommended to keep as less air in the bottle as possible, so move the bourbon into a smaller bottle if necessary.