Does Gin Go Bad?

If you have an opened bottle of gin that sits in the cabinet for a few months now, “does gin go bad?” is a question that comes to mind.

While we all know that hard liquors have a long shelf life, we’re often not sure how long we can store them opened. And how long is that shelf life exactly?

In this article, we’ll go through storing, shelf life, and going bad of gin. If you’re not sure if yours is a good candidate for the traditional gin and tonic, read on.

How To Store Gin

You should store gin the same way you store other distilled alcohols, such as rum or tequila. That means you should keep the bottle in a cool and dry area, away from sunlight and any sources of heat.

While the pantry is a perfect choice, a beverage cabinet in the living room is okay too. Especially if you don’t want to keep the gin there forever.

After opening the bottle for the first time, oxidation starts to be an issue. In short, oxidation is a process that changes the taste of alcohol.

Tip

To learn how the process affects the alcohol, you can leave a glass with a tiny amount of gin overnight and taste it the next day. Chances are, you’ll notice the change of taste, and you likely won’t be happy about it.

To slow down the oxidation process, seal the bottle tightly when not in use, and don’t ever store it with a pourer on. Furthermore, if you have a half-full bottle of gin and you don’t expect to use it within a few months, pour the alcohol into a smaller bottle. The more air in the bottle, even if it’s sealed, the faster the oxidation.

Bombay Martini
(credit: StuartWebster)

How Long Does Gin Last

Gin stays fine for years, and its shelf life is basically indefinite. As long as your bottle of Gordon’s gin, or any other quality brand, is unopened, it can sit in the cabinet for years. And if the bottle or seal wasn’t compromised in any way, the alcohol should taste perfectly fine after opening.

Tip

Please remember that gin doesn’t age once bottled. There’s no point in storing it for a long time to make it “better.”

Once you open the bottle, the oxidation process starts, and the alcohol’s flavor will change slightly over time. How fast it occurs depends mainly on how the gin is stored and how much alcohol is in the bottle.

Like with other distilled liquors, it’s generally best to use the opened bottle of gin within a year. The gin won’t go off, but the longer it’s stored opened, the worse its taste will be. That means that if you leave the bottle open for a few years, the gin might not taste that great and you will likely discard it.

 Pantry
Gin (Unopened or Opened)Will stay fine indefinitely
Gin with fruit
(credit: Helen Thomas)

How To Tell If Gin Is Bad

If you have stored gin for a long time, it’s best to check its quality before making drinks or serving it to your guests.

Pour some into a glass and look for any particles that shouldn’t be there. The smell of the alcohol is next on the list. Provided that both check out just fine, give it a taste. If the gin tastes good, feel free to use it.

If you’re unsure of any of the factors, it’s probably best to discard the alcohol. Especially, if we’re talking about a bottle that’s been opened for quite some time.

If the taste isn’t great, but you don’t find it that bad either, try mixing the classic gin and tonic and see how it tastes. Chances are it won’t taste half bad, and you will decide to keep the gin for drinks. If the taste is subpar, it’s best to discard the alcohol for quality purposes.

Gin doesn’t go bad unless you help it spoil. If you store the bottle unsealed, some contaminants will get into the bottle and, after a long time, it might go off. Alcohol is not a great environment to live in for microorganisms, so that takes a long time. Other than that, spoilage of gin is virtually impossible.