Does Limoncello Go Bad? Everything You Need to Know

As someone who has a three-year-old bottle of Limoncello, my mind is filled with doubts regarding its safety and quality. So before even thinking of taking a sip, I went on a search to find out whether Limoncello goes bad or not.

Limoncello is a refreshing Italian liqueur that has been an after-dinner drink or digestif for centuries. This drink is made from lemon zest, syrup, and vodka. Limoncello can be served chilled over ice or as a flavor enhancer in cocktails and martinis. This alcoholic beverage has a distinctly citrusy and sweet taste that goes well with desserts.

While some of us are limoncello connoisseurs, the rest probably enjoy the lemon liqueur from time to time. If you fall in the latter category, you might worry about your bottle going bad before you get the chance to drink from it again. 

In this article, we will be diving into whether or not Limoncello goes bad and discussing its other aspects. Then, maybe we’ll be able to save your taste buds from an unpleasant experience.

Can Limoncello Go Bad?

I was very curious to know if the 3-year-old bottle of Italian Limoncello in the back of my liquor cabinet could have gone bad. So, I recharged my research skills and went on a hunt to find out. 

Most drinks lose their flavor as time passes. Some even go bad and become undrinkable. However, Limoncello does not always fall into that category of drinks.

This digestif liqueur’s ingredients often save it from going bad. Most Limoncello will lose their distinctive taste and smell if left for an extended period but won’t necessarily go bad quickly.

We can thank the higher alcohol content of bottled Limoncello for its ability to combat spoilage. Mass-produced Limoncello often contains preservatives or other additives that further extend the drink’s shelf life.

However, that is not to say that Limoncello can never go bad. Like all other consumable products, it will eventually expire. If left for too long, stored inappropriately, opened, or made at home, it will be more prone to go bad. 

So, Limoncello doesn’t spoil like milk, but it will most likely lose a lot of its lemon flavor, and under certain conditions, it can “go bad.”

The good news is that specific storage methods could be applied to prolong the life of Limoncello, which we will discuss further on in the article.

How Long Does Limoncello Last?

Okay, so now that we know that there is a possibility that Limoncello could go bad, how long do you have before it does? Let’s see if my 3-year-old bottle has lasted. 

Alcohol and preservatives are the ingredients that give Limoncello the ability to last longer than other drinks.

However, exactly how long it lasts depends on several factors, such as whether it has been opened or not, store-bought or homemade, and how it’s stored.


An unopened bottle of Limoncello lasts longer than both an opened bottle or homemade Limoncello. Being unopened and being stored in proper conditions will extend the shelf life of the famous Italian liqueur.

When we’re talking about an unopened bottle of Limoncello, we’re referring to two main things: it is store-bought and still sealed. These features are essential as they protect the liquor, allowing it to stay drinkable for longer.

Being store-bought means that the drink probably contains a good amount of alcohol with a good number of preservatives. These fight the Limoncello from going bad; however, improper storage could insanely shorten the drink’s shelf life.  

Unopened bottled Italian Limoncello won’t necessarily go bad fast. To enjoy it at its best quality, manufacturers recommend that it’s consumed within two years. Like most drinks, Limoncello loses its lemon flavor over time and becomes more simple syrupy. 


Once you open your bottle, beware that you have just shortened its shelf life significantly. However, with correct storage, you’ll be able to enjoy your opened bottle for longer.

Opened Limoncello tastes best if drank within six months.

Some sources say the taste remains great for even longer when properly stored. Make sure to refrigerate it. Do not leave it at room temperature in direct sunlight. Poor storage can make the opened Limoncello unfit for consumption.


The alcohol content of limoncellos, especially when homemade, dramatically varies depending on the limoncello recipe used.

Homemade Limoncello lacks the preservatives store-bought variations have; thus, it lasts for a shorter amount of time. However, the alcohol and lemon peel still preserve the drink, making it last longer than non-alcoholic variations. 

It is best to drink homemade Limoncello fresh or within seven days of production. It can go bad if not refrigerated or stored properly. If placed in the fridge correctly, the homemade liquor could last longer, but not as long as the factory-produced versions.

How to Tell if Limoncello Has Gone Bad

You’ve poured yourself a glass of a half-empty bottle of Limoncello. You’re excited to take a sip of the long-anticipated fresh and lemony liquor when bam! You’re hit with something far from it.

In general, fresh Limoncello has a lemon peel and sugar flavor alongside the hint of alcohol. It is a taste bud igniting drink thanks to its tartness and a greatly balanced alcohol taste.

If not stored correctly, the balance of the drink will be lost. If you give it a sniff, you might notice a change in smell. Instead of the fresh lemon scent, you might get more of a fermented lemon smell. The smell of alcohol might also overpower the scent of the drink.

If it has gone bad, Limoncello might start to appear cloudier.

The taste might also become sourer. These factors serve as tell-tale signs that the Limoncello is, in a way, no longer fit for drinking. In addition to those factors, any sign of mold on the bottle’s cap or mouthpiece indicates the need for it to be discarded. 

How to Store Limoncello

If you want your Limoncello to last for the longest time possible, you’re going to have to store it properly. If improperly stored, it will go bad faster than anticipated, and bye-bye goes another unfinished bottle.

Both store-bought and homemade Limoncello should be stored correctly to get the most out of them. Proper storage prevents the liquor from going bad and preserves the flavors that make it desirable. 

If you have made your Limoncello at home, it is best to drink it fresh and avoid storing it. It tastes best when freshly made, so it is advised to consume it soon after preparation.

However, if you would like to store your homemade or store-bought Limoncello, it should be kept chilled. When storing, make sure that it’s kept in an airtight bottle. This will prevent any air from coming into contact and interacting with the drink.

Where the airtight bottle should be stored depends on when the drink will be consumed. If you want to drink the liquor soon, it is best to keep the bottle in the refrigerator. The fridge helps maintain the delicious flavors of the Limoncello and will keep it fresh for a couple of months. It is best to serve it chilled.

Some people store their lemon liquor in their cabinet or pantry to keep it in a dark place. However, it is crucial to keep the bottle in a cool area. If the temperature is cool, this could be an option. In either case, it’s best to keep Limoncello in the fridge. 

Can You Freeze Limoncello?

If you want to maintain your Limoncello for an extended period of time, some options are available. Freezing the liquor is one of them.

If you’re not planning on consuming it soon, you can store it in the freezer. However, note that this storage method could lead to an altered consistency and flavor.  

The amount of alcohol in Limoncello plays a role in its consistency during and after freezing. If the drink has 150-proof alcohol or higher, the consistency won’t change much in the freezer. However, if, let’s say, it has 100 proof alcohol, the frozen Limoncello will have more of a slushy consistency. 

There is not a lot of harm in placing Limoncello with a proof of 100 or higher in the freezer. In terms of its drinkability, it can last for about 12 months without losing too much of the flavor. Commercially made Limoncello may last longer, around two years.

To store in the freezer, put your Limoncello in a container with no air space. Doing so protects the drink from freezer burn. You can keep the liquor in an airtight sealable bottle or jar. Some people get creative with Limoncello in the freezer. They pour it in ice cube trays and use the cubes as needed.

When you want a drink, you can take the bottle out of the freezer and place it in the fridge. It is best to be consumed within a month. Once completely thawed out, it’s advised not to refreeze the Limoncello.

Some people might place Limoncello in the freezer for only a couple of hours before serving. This could be useful if you are short on time and want a chilled drink after dinner.

What Happens if You Drink Old Limoncello?

Drinking old Limoncello ruins the experience you strive to have with its fresh counterpart. Moreover, old Limoncello results in a dull affair for the taste buds; it tastes bland at best.

Most often, limoncello loses its taste rather than spoils like milk. The liqeur would have to be very old, stored improperly, or kept out at room temperature for an extended period to cause sickness if consumed.

The fermented lemon content could lead to an upset stomach. In addition, bad Limoncello can cause ‘allappa’ or a thick tongue. This may be due to its sourness.