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How long does Gin last? Can it go bad?

Years ago, gin was the hallmark cocktail in British television and seemed to exude class and refinement by the bucket load. These days, it has thankfully become so much more popular. It’s cheap and easy to make, doesn’t need to sit in a barrel-like a whiskey or a bourbon would, and comes with a long list of mixers to enjoy it with. On a sunny afternoon on a veranda with a nice view, it is pretty much the perfect drink. However, most of us are unlikely to make it through the contents of a whole bottle in the course over the weekend. This begs the question – how long does it last?

At this stage, many of us associate alcohol with being a pretty decent preservative. For example, products like orange extract last for a long time due to the fact that they are made with alcohol. But does that hold true with gin? Well, unfortunately, we can’t give you a definite yes or no on this. Much of its longevity depends on how and where it was stored, whether or not it was opened, and whether any foreign bodies have entered the bottle at any stage. A top-quality gin can set you back a pretty penny, so we’re going to do our best to make sure that not even a drop of it goes to waste. So, without much further ado, let’s get to the root of the questions – how long does gin last, and can it go bad?


The Best Way to Store Gin

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Witthaya Duangsuwan/

There is no real big secret to storing gin as it behaves in much the same way as a whiskey or rum would. So, if you are already are the proud owner of a healthy booze collection, you will know that the best conditions for your spirits are cold, dark, and moisture-free climates. In this sense, an alcohol cabinet is ideal, but a larder or pantry will also do just fine. Gin is remarkably low maintenance in its unopened state, so, if you have the self-control to never open it, it can last indefinitely.

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This all changes once the bottle has been opened, however. As soon as air hits the contents, it marks the beginning of the gin’s slow degradation. We must emphasize that this is a very slow process. There is no need to do anything drastic like attempt to freeze the gin after opening, nor will it even need to be refrigerated at this point. Regardless, the key is to halt the oxidation process, which occurs when alcohol meets air. The key to doing this is to immediately reseal the bottle after use and put it away straight away. Perhaps our favorite tip for keeping gin tasting its best revolves around what to do if you happen to have half a bottle remaining. If you transfer this gin into a smaller bottle, it will come into contact with less air and keep for much longer. Cheers!


How Long Does Gin Last?

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Roman Debree/

If you have bought a high-quality gin and left it in an alcohol cabinet unopened for years, it will be fine. Truly, one of the best qualities associated with strong alcohol is that it can just last forever. Unlike wine though, it won’t improve over time. So, with unopened bottles stored correctly, there is no use-by date to keep in mind. It keeps indefinitely!

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This changes entirely in the case of an opened bottle, however. Most strong alcohol will begin to lose its quality over time, becoming bland long before it goes off. Still, assuming that no one wants to drink a dull gin, the best practice is to consume a bottle within a year once it has been opened.


Should Gin be Refrigerated?

There is really no reason to store a bottle of gin in the fridge in the long term. It won’t add anything to it, nor will it prevent it from going off prematurely. Really, the only time gin should be anywhere near a fridge is to cool it before having that first crisp gin and tonic.


Signs That Your Gin May Have Gone Off

If you don’t regularly consume alcohol, there is a small chance that it is gone off. As such, it is always a good idea to give it a little check before serving just in case. Normally, a bottle that has been open for a prolonged period of time and has been penetrated by oxygen will smell a little off. Should it smell okay, the next logical step is to pour a little glass of it and check to see are there any foreign bodies in there. If there are, chuck it out. Should your gin pass both of these tests there is nothing left to do but to have a little sip. If anything at all is in doubt at any of these stages, the only logical option is to get rid of the lot and replace it.

99 times out of 100, your gin will be absolutely fine. The chances of foreign bodies entering the bottle are incredibly slim if the correct measures have been taken since it was first opened. That’s perhaps the best thing about storing strong alcohol long-term – it is incredibly low maintenance. Overall, though it is most likely fine, a little testing before serving can’t do any harm.


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Gin Storage, Sell-by Dates, and Other Related Questions

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Juniper berries being added to a copper gin still |

What is the difference between gin and vodka?

In essence, vodka is a spirit which is designed to not possess much of a flavor or an aroma. Gin, on the contrary, is designed to attract the senses. It is distilled with juniper berries which add a very strong flavor to the spirit.

Is gin a depressant?

Drinkers have long blamed gin for heightening their emotions and occasionally causing them to feel a bit down. As it turns out, these assumptions weren’t actually that far-fetched. Compared with beer and wine, drinkers of spirits are much more susceptible to mood swings and occasional bouts of alcohol-related depression. Naturally, the more you drink, the higher the chance that this could affect you. As such, all spirits should be enjoyed in moderation.

Who invented the gin and tonic?

In a strange way, gin and tonic was originally a medicine. British soldiers stationed in India in the early 19th Century had to habitually consume quinine to ward off malaria. This quinine reportedly tasted awful, so they would mix it down with gin, water, sugar, and lime. The result was the early version of the drink we have all come to know and love today.

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