If you like softer alcoholic drinks, Irish cream may be one of your favorites. However, you can’t always finish an entire bottle of Irish cream all at once.
But how long does Irish cream last? If stored properly, an unopened bottle of Irish cream will keep well for around 2 years. Once opened, you can store Irish cream both in the fridge and at room temperature where it will keep for 6 to 24 months.
Continue reading to learn more about the shelf life and storage conditions of Irish cream and what are the signs to tell you that it is high time you got rid of it.
What Is Irish Cream Anyway?
If you have never had Irish cream, you may not even think of it as an alcoholic drink. In fact, Irish cream is a type of cream liquor.
It is a mixture of Irish whiskey, cream, and such flavorings as vanilla, chocolate, caramel, etc. The alcohol content of Irish cream is not higher than 20%.
Irish cream can be drunk as is or it can be mixed with other drinks to make delicious cocktails. This beverage is also widely used in making desserts.
Does Irish Cream Go Bad?
Irish cream does go bad and quicker than most other alcoholic beverages. The reason for this is that it contains dairy. However, Irish cream also contains not less than 15% alcohol. This makes it possible to provide a long enough shelf life for this cream liquor both in the fridge and at room temperature.
Thus, if you want to make an Irish cream dessert or drink but don’t know if you will manage to use it up, go ahead and buy a bottle. If stored right, you will certainly manage to use it up before it gets a chance to go bad.
How to Store Irish Cream?
As Irish cream contains dairy, you may think that you should always store it in the fridge. This is not true, especially for an unopened bottle of Irish cream.
An unopened bottle of Irish cream should be stored in the pantry or a cool kitchen cabinet. The general rule of storing Irish cream is keeping it away from temperature fluctuations. The ideal temperature range for Irish cream is from 32 to 77 °F. If it is too hot in your house, you can put the Irish cream in the fridge.
Keep Irish cream away from heat sources. Never leave it under sunlight and near such items as the oven or the stovetop.
Store the bottle somewhere dark and make sure it is not exposed to humidity and moisture.
When it comes to an opened bottle of Irish cream, you can store it both in the fridge and in the pantry. The key is keeping the bottle tightly sealed.
It is best to keep Irish cream in the fridge if you know you won’t be using it within a few months. Another reason why many people prefer to refrigerate Irish cream is that it tastes better chilled.
Refrigerating Irish cream makes it taste crisp and fresh.
Can You Freeze Irish Cream?
You are not recommended to freeze Irish cream and there are multiple reasons why. First off, alcohol itself doesn’t freeze well. Depending on the alcohol content of the drink, you will be able to freeze it only partially.
The alcohol content in Irish cream being 15 to 20%, the drink will freeze turning into a slushy mixture.
Secondly, dairy freezes well but becomes separated once thawed.
Lastly, imagine the mixture of half-frozen alcohol and the dairy part that is fully frozen. Once you freeze and defrost Irish cream, the consistency of the drink will be nowhere near the original consistency of the drink.
One thing you should know is that while Irish cream doesn’t freeze well, it still makes delicious ice cream. So, if you have leftover Irish cream and don’t know what to do with it, make some ice cream instead of trying to freeze it.
How Long Does Irish Cream Last?
Irish cream doesn’t last as long as many other alcoholic beverages do and the reason is obvious. There is cream in it.
Irish cream comes with a ‘Best by’ date printed on the bottle. And this is the case when you should take this date into account as Irish cream certainly doesn’t get better with time.
An unopened bottle of Irish cream maintains its best flavor qualities for 2 years. It will keep well for longer. However, the longer you let this cream liquor sit in your pantry the more its flavor will deteriorate. The drink will obviously not go bad immediately but lose its best qualities over time. It will most likely be good for around 6 months past the expiration date.
Opened Irish cream will keep well for at least 6 months. Some Irish cream manufacturers suggest that the shelf life of opened Irish cream can also be extended to 2 years so long it is stored right.
Note that the sooner you finish the half-full bottle of Irish cream the better. No matter how well you seal the bottle, the exposure of the drink to air makes it go bad faster.
If you want to get the most out of your opened bottle of Irish cream, keep it refrigerated as doing it will certainly make the drink keep better and last longer than it would if stored at room temperature.
If you have a half-full bottle of Irish cream, we do recommend using it up until it goes bad. Considering that there are numerous ways to use this beverage, from cocktails to dips and mousses, you should certainly not let it go to waste.
How Can You Tell If Irish Cream Is Bad?
If you have had a bottle of Irish cream for too long, whether it is opened or not, you should certainly test it before serving.
Firstly, pour the drink into a glass to see how it looks. It should be smooth without any changes in texture and color.
Secondly, smell it. If the Irish cream has an off-odor, you have either stored it wrong or exposed it to temperature fluctuations.
Lastly, if the drink looks good and smells as it should, give it a taste. Fresh Irish cream tastes rich, crisp, and sweet, without the intense flavor of the whiskey. Its flavor will gradually change depending on how long you have had the bottle.
If the drink tastes good to you, then the Irish cream is still good. You can go ahead and serve it.
If you have had the unopened bottle of Irish cream for longer than 2 years, it is best to buy a fresh one.
How Long Does Homemade Irish Cream Last?
In case you didn’t know, you can totally make Irish cream at home. You just mix whiskey and cream, or condensed milk. Add coffee, vanilla extract, chocolate syrup, or other flavorings, and your homemade Irish cream is ready.
The shelf life of homemade Irish cream is shorter than the shelf life of the store-bought drink.
Keep the homemade mixture of whiskey and cream in the fridge at all times. Properly stored homemade Irish cream will keep well for around 8 weeks.
Two months is still quite long for a product that contains dairy. But it is the alcohol that makes its shelf life longer. In the case of commercially manufactured Irish cream, the shelf life of the drink is extended by preservatives and other added ingredients.