Gin, with an alcohol percentage of roughly 35-50%, is a classic alcoholic beverage that’s made of juniper berries. Like other types of alcohol, gin doesn’t freeze. But, the question today is whether or not gin goes bad.
Does gin go bad after being opened? Will it grow mold if it’s left without a lid? How will it taste after being left open for a few weeks?
Read on as we dive into these questions and more!
Can Gin Go Bad?
An unopened bottle of gin, boasts an indefinite shelf life. Unopened gin lasts 1-2 years before it starts going bad. This being said, it’s important to remember that gin can’t go bad in the traditional sense. That is, it won’t go moldy or begin to grow any kind of unsafe fungus if it’s left open or sitting too long in the cupboard.
However, it can “go bad” in the aesthetic sense, making it unpleasant to look at or consume but not harmful to your health should you take the plunge and down the bottle that your grandma has had lying around since the 90s.
How Long Does Gin Last?
As we mentioned above, an unopened bottle of gin is usually good for a few years after being bottled. Before being opened, a bottle of gin contains virtually no oxygen, which is what starts to cause changes within the alcohol (which would also, in this case, be known as “going bad”).
It’s best practice to consume your open bottle of gin within one year. This is because the longer the opened gin sits, the more the oxidation changes its chemical makeup and taste, which often results in the dumping of your gin down the kitchen sink.
Does Gin Get Better With Age?
Unfortunately, gin is not like a fine wine – it does not get better with age. On the contrary, actually; it actually gets worse as it ages!
Gin’s flavor is imparted during the fermentation process, which means that its profile stops developing before it’s bottled, resulting in an alcoholic staple that has a flavor that peaks just before being bottling.
So, don’t feel bad about polishing off your brand new bottle rather quickly – we wouldn’t blame you for wanting to enjoy it while it still tastes great!
Why Does Gin Go Bad?
At the end of the day, there are three main factors that affect the quality of gin over time: temperature, oxygen, and light.
When gin or any other liquor is exposed to sunlight, the color will start to change, which also indicates subtle changes in flavor. In addition, flavor changes are also spurred on by exposure to oxygen – something that can’t be avoided after opening the seal of the bottle for the first time, regardless of how well it’s resealed.
Temperature affects gin because of the molecule, terpene, that it contains. Terpene is affected by temperature, with subtle external temperature changes causing it to react and its flavor to be altered.
That said, if you store hard liquor in moderate temperature away from direct light, it lasts indefinitely. At 30% to 40%, liquor is not a hospitable environment for bacteria. And if it’s not opened, you’ll deal with virtually no oxidation.
How To Tell If Gin Has Gone Bad
Gin that has started to go bad will change color. This is the easiest way to know whether your gin is fresh or has been sitting for a while. Color changes can be minor or very noticeable, depending on how old the gin is and how it was stored.
Color changes also tend to indicate changes in taste. Thanks to this, you can be prepared for the fact that your discolored gin will likely have a poor flavor.
You’ll know your gin is bad when you taste it. Bad gin has a distinct, unpleasant taste that isn’t palatable to most gin enthusiasts.
In many cases, it will have a strong, sour flavor that’s similar to that of vinegar. Sometimes, though, it will just taste flat and dull.
Is Bad Gin Safe To Drink?
To recap, drinking bad or expired gin is safe. You shouldn’t suffer any ill effect from it. Since gin is 30-50% pure alcohol, it’s not a place in which bacteria likes to grow, which is what happens when food goes bad and results in food poisoning.
How to Store Gin
One of the best things about liquor is how easy it is to store. For the most part, your gin can be put away and forgotten about for months. The trick is, though, putting it away in the correct location.
Gin should be stored upright, ideally — especially if your bottle’s cork is made of natural fiber. Why? Because storing naturally corked bottles on their side, you run the risk of your gin causing the cork to dissolve, changing the taste of the liquor. If your cork is synthetic, this isn’t an issue.
You’ll want to make sure that your bottle is sealed as air tight as possible. Not only can air exposure cause the flavor of your gin to change, but the oxidation process can also cause the alcohol content within the gin to diminish as it evaporates.
Gin is best kept in cool, dark places such as in the basement or a pantry that is away from any heat vents, radiators, or other heat sources. You may also choose to store your gin in the fridge. Storing it in the fridge makes serving easy, as gin tastes the best when cold. It also helps eliminate the concerns surrounding temperature and sunlight.
Can You Freeze Gin?
You can try to freeze your gin: keyword being “try’. With such a high alcohol content, gin doesn’t freeze. If you store it in the freezer, it may get slushy – but this is because of the water content within the liquor, not the alcohol itself. When gin gets slushy, it’s a result of the water freezing. You’ll never find your bottle of gin frozen solid.
Technically, gin could freeze. However, your household freezer won’t be able to reach temperatures low enough to freeze the alcoholic portion of the beverage. A bottle of pure gin would require a temperature of -17 degrees Fahrenheit to freeze.
Gin that has been stored in the freezer and partially frozen – due to the water content, as we said – should taste the same as it did when it went into the freezer. This is, of course, unless your gin has been left in the freezer for years. If it has, it’s likely started to go bad just the same as it would have had it been stored in the cupboard.
You can defrost your gin by leaving it sitting on the cupboard or storing it in the fridge. Leaving it out will thaw it more quickly and also warm it up, meaning that you’ll have to rechill it before you serve.