Alcohol Storage: Room Temperature Or Chilled?

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Proper alcohol storage is essential to maintain the quality and flavour of your drinks. Alcohol stored incorrectly can spoil, losing its colour and flavour and even becoming undrinkable. The optimal storage temperature for alcohol depends on the type of beverage. For example, distilled spirits like gin, vodka, bourbon, tequila, and whiskey are best kept at room temperature, while fortified wines and creamy liqueurs like Baileys, RumChata, and sherry should be refrigerated. Additionally, alcohol should be stored away from direct sunlight, as UV rays can accelerate the oxidation process, altering the colour and flavour of the beverage.

Characteristics Values
Alcohol storage temperature Room temperature or slightly lower (55-60°F)
Alcohol storage considerations Keep it cool, dry, and away from direct sunlight
Alcohol storage location Low-traffic, cool, dark, and out-of-the-way area
Alcohol bottle positioning Unopened wine bottles on their sides; liquor bottles upright
Alcohol storage after opening Tightly corked and refrigerated for wine; no need to refrigerate hard liquor


Alcohol should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place

Keeping alcohol in a cool place preserves it for longer. As temperatures rise, the alcohol expands and can evaporate more quickly. While this won't affect the safety of the drink, storing alcohol in a warm place can cause it to oxidise more quickly and change flavour.

UV rays from the sun won't spoil the liquor, but extended exposure to sunlight has a similar effect to storing at high temperatures, speeding up the oxidation process. Researchers from Bacardi showed that sun exposure can be even worse for liquor than warmth. When researchers left bottles exposed to the sun for 15 days, a bottle of bourbon lost 10% of its colour, and a bottle of scotch lost 40% of its colour in that time.

Direct sunlight will also influence the colour of the liquid, making it paler. This kind of ageing will not make the alcohol taste better.

Therefore, to ensure the best taste and longevity of your alcohol, it should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place.


Opened alcohol has a shorter shelf life than unopened alcohol

The lifespan of an opened bottle of alcohol depends on the type of liquor, its storage temperature, and light exposure. Most bottles are best if used within 6 months to 2 years after opening. Flavoured alcohol tends to have a shorter shelf life, as the sugars in the liquid cause it to oxidise faster.

For example, an opened bottle of whiskey will start to expire within 6 months to 2 years after it is opened. If the bottle is only half full, the whiskey will remain largely unchanged for 1 to 2 years. If it is only a quarter full or less, the flavours will break down within 6 months.

An opened bottle of vodka is shelf-stable for about 10 to 20 years before potency starts to break down with oxidation. However, flavoured vodka has a shelf life of only about 3 months.

Once opened, tequila should be used within a year, otherwise, the flavour profile will be altered, creating an undesirable taste experience.

Opened liqueurs and cordials are particularly susceptible to spoilage due to their high sugar content, which expedites the oxidation process. Most liqueurs should be consumed within 6 months to a year after opening. Cream liqueurs, such as Baileys, should be consumed within a year of opening and stored in the refrigerator to prolong their shelf life.

To maximise the shelf life of opened alcohol, it is important to store bottles in a cool, dry, dark place, away from direct sunlight, and to keep them tightly sealed when not in use.

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Alcohol should be stored upright or on its side

Alcohol should be stored with care to ensure the best quality and taste. The way bottles are positioned can affect their seal, and this varies depending on the type of alcohol.


Beer bottles should be stored upright to minimise contact and oxidation between the beer and the bottle cap. For unfiltered beers, this position also keeps any sludge at the bottom of the bottle.


Wine bottles, on the other hand, should be stored on their sides. This keeps the cork moist, preventing it from drying out and shrinking, which would allow too much air into the bottle. However, sparkling wines, such as champagne, tend to age better if kept upright.


Liquor bottles are typically stored upright. This is because the alcohol can leak through or break down the cap. Storing liquor upright also prevents it from coming into contact with the cork, which could cause leakage. Additionally, liquor is stored upright at the factory, and it is shipped and displayed this way.

Fortified Wines and Creamy Liqueurs

Fortified wines, such as sherry and vermouth, and creamy liqueurs, such as RumChata and Baileys, should be refrigerated after opening. Port wine is an exception and can be stored in a cool, dark spot if refrigerator space is limited.


Alcohol stored in the freezer won't freeze due to its alcohol content

It is a common misconception that alcohol does not freeze. Alcohol does freeze, but the type of alcohol, its proof, and the temperature of the freezer all play a role in whether it will. Pure ethanol alcohol freezes at -173 °F (-114 °C), but the alcohol in your freezer is not pure ethanol. It is a combination of alcohol and water, with other additives like sugars and flavourings. The higher the proof of the alcohol, the lower the freezing point, and the colder the temperature required to freeze it.

The temperature of the average home freezer is 0 °F (-18 °C), which is too warm to freeze alcohol. However, chest freezers can get colder, and industrial freezers can reach temperatures that will freeze alcohol. Generally, liquor (between 40 and 80 proof) will not freeze in a conventional freezer, but beer and wine will.

Liquor has a higher alcohol content than beer or wine, so it has a lower freezing point and can be stored in a freezer without freezing. Vodka, for example, has a freezing point of around -16 °F (-27 °C), so it will not freeze in a conventional freezer. Whiskey and rum have similar alcohol content to vodka, so they are also safe to store in the freezer. However, freezing alcohol can diminish its flavour and scent, so it is not recommended for more flavourful alcohols.

Beer and wine have a lower alcohol content, so they have a higher freezing point and are more likely to freeze. Beer typically freezes at around 28 °F (-2 °C) and wine at 23 °F (-5 °C). If left in the freezer for too long, they can explode, causing a mess. Therefore, it is not recommended to store beer or wine in the freezer for extended periods.

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Beer can be stored at room temperature

Beer is best stored in a cool, dry, and dark place. While refrigeration is not necessary, storing beer in a cool place will help to prolong its shelf life. The optimal temperature range for storing unopened beer is between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Beer can be kept at room temperature for up to six months, but it will maintain its best quality for up to eight months if stored in a refrigerator.

It is important to note that beer should be shielded from direct sunlight and extreme heat. Sunlight exposure can cause a chemical reaction in the beer, resulting in a skunky or "lightstruck" taste and smell. Extreme heat can also negatively impact beer, causing it to spoil. Therefore, it is best to avoid storing beer in warm or sunny rooms, garages, or outdoors in hot weather.

Additionally, it is recommended to store beer in an upright position, as this helps minimize contact with air. Storing bottled beer on its side can lead to air leaks, increasing the risk of oxidation and spoilage.

While it is generally recommended to consume beer as soon as possible after opening, it is possible to reseal it with an airtight cap or stopper to slow down oxidation and prevent carbonation loss. However, beer that has been left open for an extended period may develop a flat taste.

In summary, beer can be stored at room temperature, but for optimal freshness and quality, it is best stored in a cool, dry, and dark place, away from direct sunlight and extreme heat.

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Frequently asked questions

Common distilled spirits, such as whiskey, vodka, gin, rum, and tequila, are typically stored at room temperature. However, some experts suggest that the ideal range is slightly lower, between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping them in a relatively cool place helps preserve them for longer.

Direct sunlight can negatively impact stored alcohol. Exposure to sunlight can cause oxidation, resulting in changes to the colour and flavour of the liquor over time. Therefore, it is recommended to store alcohol in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.

Alcoholic beverages that should be stored in the refrigerator include fortified wines such as vermouth, port, and sherry, as well as cream-based liqueurs like Baileys Irish Cream. These types of alcohol are more susceptible to oxidation and require refrigeration to maintain their quality and flavour.

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