Glass with old scotch

Does Scotch Go Bad? When Is It Too Late To Drink Scotch

Glass with old scotch

 Have you ever wondered if scotch or whiskey has an expiration? How will you know if it went bad already? This article will answer all your questions. 

Yes, scotch goes bad. It can last up to 2 years if the opened bottle is airtight and half full. While an unopened scotch can last for decades if appropriately sealed, stored at the right temperature, and kept away from light and humidity.

Read on if you want to learn more about the shelf life of scotch whiskey and tips about its proper storage.

How Does Scotch Go Bad Over Time?

Scotch doesn’t expire in the sense of being drinkable. Whisky is usually sold at 40% ABV (alcohol by volume) or higher, which is relatively high enough to prevent any bacteria, mold, or other contaminants from growing and spoiling the liquor.

However, whiskey will change its taste over time due to oxidation and evaporation. If the bottle of scotch is opened and not sealed properly, it will compromise the drink’s quality and flavor.

Still, opened whiskey has a longer shelf life compared to wines. If sealed correctly, scotch whiskey has a shelf life between 6 months to 2 years, whereas an opened bottle of wine can only last for a few days. 

Proper storage of unopened whiskey gives it a shelf life of about 10 years.

Here is a video talking about the longevity of whiskey vs. wine:

How Does Scotch Change in Taste? Three clear glasses with scotch

As the alcohol evaporates, the taste of scotch becomes smoother. The air that entered the bottle has active gases that react with the flavor substances of scotch. 

The change in taste is hard to predict. There are instances that it improves, but most of the time, it worsens. So, it’s better to seal your scotch properly just to be sure.

When is it Too Late to Drink Scotch? 

If your scotch has a weird odor, appearance, or flavor, it is better to throw it away. It might be spoiled and unsafe to drink if the liquor has a slight metallic or bland oxidized taste.

This change may be due to bacteria or mold that entered the bottle when the alcohol content was low due to evaporation.

How to Store Scotch ProperlyAssorted alcoholic drinks

Unlike wine which is placed horizontally, scotch should be stored upright. This is because whiskey corks are not as tight as wine corks

Also, scotch doesn’t age during storage. But it matures when in contact with oak wood inside the cask.

  • Seal it Properly 

As previously mentioned, oxygen may affect scotch’s taste and quality if the bottle is not correctly sealed. The higher the amount of oxygen, the faster the whiskey gets bad.  

That’s why you should transfer the liquor into a smaller bottle or container to seal it better. You can also add a cap above the cork, but ensure that it doesn’t damage the sleeve. Note that the cap may reduce the bottle’s value, similar to sealing wax.

We advise you not to use a whiskey decanter because it is prone to oxidation. It should have a glass joint or a plastic seal. If you want to learn how to keep your whiskey decanter airtight, read this article.

  • Keep Away from Light 

Always place your bottle of scotch in dark storage or cabinet. UV rays from light sources can remove the pigments in whiskey as time passes, altering the liquor’s color.

  • Store at Appropriate Temperature 

Keep your scotch below room temperature. The lower the storage temperature, the less amount of whiskey evaporates.

  • Protect from Humidity 

Humidity can damage the label of the scotch bottle. You may use a plastic bag to keep the bottle airtight.

However, be sure that the plastic does not contain plasticizers or other chemicals because this may bleach the label and affect the scotch through its cork. 


Scotch can go bad if not sealed and kept adequately. But if you follow the steps we mentioned on how to store scotch, your bottle of whiskey can last for years to come.  

Did you find this article helpful? Comment below if you have any questions.



  • Very informative


    T J H

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