How does liquor age?

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  • #590473

    angelescrest
    Participant

    We’ve thrown out 20+ bottles of weird stuff in the bar–raspberry liquor, something w/Russian title, Galliano, etc. When I got to the Jack Daniels, I stopped. Is there an age limit for this stuff? Is Frangelico good forever?

    #664239

    JanS
    Participant

    as far as I know, it’s good forever – lol..unless I drink it first ;-) Even the Galliano will age. Now wine is a different story. It can age, but if not stored right, it can become vinegar…which isn’t always a bad thing, if you also have some good olive oil :)

    #664240

    cjboffoli
    Participant

    angelescrest: Unopened hard liquor can last many decades without any discernible change in quality or flavor. Jack Daniels in particular is about 40% alcohol by volume so it is going to be really difficult for anything pathogenic to grow in it. Anything that is more than 5% alcohol by volume should be stable and safe to drink.

    Once the bottle is open oxidation can slowly degrade the flavors (especially liquors with botanical ingredients like gin) . And if the liquor is stored in a particularly warm place you might get into an issue with evaporation. (This is different from the kind of “evaporation” you might experience if you have an unscrupulous hired housekeeper or incorrigible teens, or both).

    But for the most part that hard whiskey should last a long time. Now, I’m less sure about liquors that have a lot of sugar in them, though I would think the 5% rule probably still applies. A bit of caution should asle apply with liquors that are made with real cream.

    Wines are better known for aging gracefully. But not all wines will age beneficially. Certain wines are made for long-term aging. But most have a window of drinkability. It is not always that the wine has turned to vinegar. It is more that it has changed and is past a point at which it is its best. I’ve unfortunately tasted many heat damaged, corked and past their prime wines that weren’t at all vinegar but were still totally undrinkable.

    Wines with screw caps (which includes many premium wines these days) will not change remarkably in the bottle as the semi-permeable nature of natural cork is usually what allows the wine to develop over time. Screw cap wines are ready to drink now.

    You should always try to store your wines in a cool dark place that doesn’t have significant changes in temperature. And if they have natural corks, try to store them on their sides. Bottles with metal screw caps or rubber corks can be stored upright.

    #664241

    Patrick
    Keymaster

    My grandfather told me about the liquor that had been in federal storage during Prohibition that was sold later in the 30s. He said there were color changes, the gin turned yellow, but it was still fit for consumption. He sold it when he managed the Piggly Wiggly in Klamath Falls.

    #664242

    alki_2008
    Participant

    Sounds like old wine that doesn’t taste good anymore would still be safe to cook with then?

    #664243

    cjboffoli
    Participant

    alki_2008: It most certainly would be “safe” but the question remains as to whether or not you would want to cook with it. There are differing schools of thought on this matter. Some think that the corked (or otherwise spoiled wine) will impart bad flavors into whatever you’re cooking. Isn’t flavor the whole point of adding the wine? Others think that the “corked” flavor will cook off and is perfectly OK to use. I think my opinion is closer to the former group than the latter. And I find that corked wine is very effective at keeping my drains clean. :-)

    #664244

    angelescrest
    Participant

    My French friends would add to a vat of old wine they kept on their counter, waiting for it to turn to vinegar.

    And thanks for the info, CJ.

    #664245

    cjboffoli
    Participant

    angelescrest: Do you know if your French friends augment the old wine with anything when they put it into the vat? Wine won’t automatically turn to vinegar. If you’re intending to make vinegar you can add acetobacteria to the old wine which will consume the remaining alcohol in the wine and produce acetic acid. But this process takes a while and I’m fairly sure you wouldn’t appreciate the smell it makes while it is sitting on your counter.

    #664246

    angelescrest
    Participant

    I’m going to ask.

    It seems like they just poured in leftover wine and let it sit.

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