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Do alcoholic beverages have an expiration date?

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Answered 2014-04-09 16:18:53
That dependsThat depends on the type of beverage. Spirits don't go bad. In fact, many improve in the bottle, even ones that have been opened. I recently came into possession of five bottles of Scotch, one of them dating to WWII, a Haig & Haig Five Star with the silk-screened lettering on the bottle. It was as good, if not better, than the day it was bottled.

Other spirits -- gin, vodka, brandy, various whiskeys, rum, tequila, etc. -- do not go bad.

One word about brandies: I was talking about authentic brandy (or Cognac), not the fruit-flavored stuff usually having a very high sugar content and relatively low alcohol content. It has been my experience that they oxidize over time, especially if the bottle's been opened. I'm talking YEARS, though, not months. They are still drinkable; they won't make you ill. But you may not enjoy the flavor; they have a strange "maderized" taste.

Stuff like Bailey's Irish Cream should be consumed pretty quickly, however. Even in the fridge, it doesn't last forever.

Wines don't have an expiration date, but few are age-worthy. Most are made to be drunk young. Unopened and stored properly, however, they have a long shelf life. Fine wines, particularly big, brawny reds, may improve with age as the tannins soften and other chemical changes take place. If stored improperly -- heat and light can be devastating -- wines quickly oxidize and break down.

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