Japanese Sake Bottles

Does Sake Go Bad? The Truth About Sake’s Shelf Life

Japanese Sake Bottles

Sake is a delicious alcoholic drink that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. But does sake go bad? And how long does sake last? 

Sake, like any other consumable or edible commodity, does go bad. It is often believed that the earlier you consume sake, the better. But with the proper storage conditions, you can actually prolong its shelf life.

In this blog, we will discuss the best ways to store sake and how to tell if it has gone bad. So, if you are a sake lover or just curious about this unique drink, read on for all the information you need!

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Does Sake Have an Expiration Date?

Image of a sake label - Image by en.sake-times.comImage of a sake label - Image by en.sake-times.com

Unlike other goods and drinks, sake does not carry a best-by or expiration date on the label.

Because alcohol has a bactericidal effect, rust does not occur immediately on its container or barrel, and sake may be stored for a long time. Instead of a best-by date, sake labels usually provide the "date of manufacturing" as a reference.

Alcoholic drinks, including sake, are exempted from being labeled with a best-by date by the Food Labeling Law. Wine, brandy, and other spirits are some of the alcoholic beverages that do not have an expiry date for the same reason.

How Long Does Sake Last?

Pouring sake on a glass

Unlike wine, virtually all types of sake are not intended to be aged. It should be consumed immediately after bottling, maybe over the next year or two.

Naturally, the actual shelf life will be considerably longer, but sake degrades over time. Keeping it for a long time makes the sake less satisfactory. An unopened bottle of sake kept for several years is generally safe to drink, although the quality may be poor.

Moreover, there will not be any harmful effects on health with drinking sake stored for a long time. However, the whole drinking experience will not be as delightful and pleasurable as consuming a fresher bottle. 

Opening a bottle of sake requires immediate consumption. The flavor alters after you open the bottle. You should drink the entire bottle in one sitting to achieve optimum sake.

To get the optimal flavor, here are our suggested sake’s shelf life:

Stored in Pantry / Cabinet


Unopened sake

2 years


Opened sake


2-4 weeks 

Unopened unpasteurized sake


6 months

Opened unpasteurized sake


1-2 weeks

Keep in mind that the flavor will evolve with time and grow milder. The rate at which the alcoholic beverage's quality determines the flavor changes. Some may only be edible for a week or two, while others last up to a month.

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How to Tell if Sake is Bad?

A woman in the pool smelling sake

An unopened sake kept in a pantry, as well as the opened one but stored in the fridge, will not cause any health issues when consumed. The only matter in question is its quality. The freshness and refinement of the sake can be determined by its appearance, smell, and taste. 

  • Yellow Tint

Sake is clear in color, and if there is an appearance of a yellowish hue, it means that the oxidation process has ruined the alcohol. A yellowish color indicates that the sake should be discarded and replaced with fresh bottles.

  • Floating or Settling Particles

The existence of floating or settling particles suggests that the sake’s body is already falling apart.

  • Undesirable / Unusual Taste

To test the flavor, drink a small amount. If something is wrong with it, toss it out. Of course, you could confuse ruined sake with sake you don't like. If you don't like its taste, you can use it for cooking instead.

  • A Sour, Rancid, or Unpleasant Odor

If the sake has a pungent smell, discard it immediately. 

How to Store Sake Properly

Bottles of sake lined up on a shelf

An unopened bottle of sake should be stored in the same manner as wine. You should store your unopened bottles in a cool and dark place. Keep it away from sunshine and heat. A temperature of about 68°F (20°C) or lower is ideal for nearly all types of sake. However, your pasteurized sake should be kept chilled if it was obtained from a refrigerated section. 

The unopened bottle of sake should be wrapped in paper or stored in a box for additional protection. It's not an excellent idea to display your sake collection out in the open, regardless of how beautiful the bottles are. Drink first, then display!

How to Keep Unpasteurized Sake

Namazake is a sake variation that wasn't pasteurized to destroy bacteria utilized during the fermentation process. It should always be refrigerated to prevent the bacteria from spreading and destroying the brew. Once opened, finish the unpasteurized sake immediately because it can spoil easily.

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How to Store Opened Sake Properly

Pouring sake into a glass

Unfortunately, the clock is ticking once you've opened the bottle or carton of sake! It begins to deteriorate as soon as it is exposed to air. Seal the cap tightly and refrigerate it to keep it fresh for a longer time.

Once opened, it's better to complete the bottle within the next week. Don't let it out at room temperature for too long!

You can go the extra mile by using pumps to remove oxygen and high-quality stoppers to keep sake fresh after it has been opened. Investing in one of these devices may be costly, but if you have high-quality sake, it's certainly worth it!

Does Sake Go Bad FAQ

1. Is old sake harmful?

It's quite unlikely that you'll get sick if the bottle is tightly sealed and smells/tastes great. Even if there are unusual odors, discolorations, or strange tastes in the sake, no pathogenic bacteria should have entered, making it safe.

Do not drink if the cap is punctured in any manner! If something tastes bad, it's usually your body's method of warning you about anything dangerous, so pay attention to your taste buds and stop consuming them.

2. My sake tastes bad. Should I throw it away?

If your sake tastes a little weird to drink but isn't filthy or unpleasant, don't discard it unless it's completely spoiled! 

Old sake can be utilized in cooking to soften and add flavor to spicy foods. The alcohol content of the bottle will prevent any harmful bacteria from forming; thus, it is safe as long as it is sealed.


If you’re a sake lover or are just looking to get into this delicious drink, it’s important to understand how to store it properly. Sake is best consumed when it is fresh, but you can actually prolong its shelf life with the right storage conditions.

An unopened bottle of sake should be stored away from sunshine and heat, and you can enjoy your sake for months (or even years) to come!

Did you learn something new? Let us know in the comments below!

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