Does Rum Go Bad After Opening? (How Long It Keeps)

does rum go bad after opening
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Rum is a distilled spirit that is made from sugarcane molasses and sugarcane juice. Rum is typically around 40% alcohol by volume extremely popular in cocktails and mixed drinks. When purchasing a bottle of rum, it is usually around 750 ml.

If kept in a cool, dry, and dark area, an unopened bottle of rum lasts pretty much forever and doesn’t significantly change in color or flavor. This is the case for rum and other distilled spirits as long as evaporation of the liquid is avoided.

However, there will be some changes in taste over the years due to oxidation, which some experts and collectors consider a good thing. Many collectors around the world stock up on unopened bottles that are decades old. But for the typical rum enthusiast, keeping an unopened bottle of rum is not a big deal and can be enjoyed whenever you’re ready.

Oxygen can be a savior for humans, but it acts as an opposing force when it comes to drinking a bottle of rum. Once you open the bottle of rum, the oxygen begins to oxidize the rum and gradually changes its flavor. Specifically, the alcohol content begins to escape (or evaporate) once the bottle is opened.

Exposure, changes in temperature, and oxidation cause changes in the color and taste of the alcohol in a bottle once opened. The more volatile compounds naturally evaporate first.

Because of this, it is best that rum is drank within 6 to 8 months of its opening. Rum retains its content and flavor profile up to 8 months if the bottle/container is kept closed with a cork or twist cap.

How to store an opened bottle of rum

If stored properly, rum can taste great months after opening. Shelf life can be maximized by storing opened rum in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat or sunlight. Keep the cork or twist cap tightly closed to ensure that the flavor is ideal for future consumption.

Cork generally dries out and allows for a faster oxidation process. Cork bottles can deteriorate over time, although synthetic cork is better than natural cork. Cork-lined rum bottles should have additional wax or a plastic seal on the cork to protect the integrity of the cork until the bottle is opened.

Instead of cork stoppers, we recommend screw caps over natural cork. Many rum brands use twist caps, such as Bacardi.

Every time you open and drink a delicious bottle of rum, the volume and flavor of the alcohol will decrease slightly due to the high volatility of alcohol at room temperature and pressure.

When it comes to the open bottle, always make sure it is tightly closed. This simple step is essential (but often overlooked) to prevent oxidation and evaporation and to prevent contaminants from entering the bottle. Although the environment is not conducive to the growth of bacteria, you still don’t want to drink anything with unknown contaminants, right?

Best places to store rum at home

Rum is enjoyed around the globe, but it is obtained mainly from Latin America and the Caribbean. The spirits are among the most potent alcoholic beverages in the world.

Recommended reading: Is Rum Made All Over the World?

The correct storage method for rum is similar to other spirits such as tequila, whiskey, and vodka. As mentioned above, alcoholic beverages, including rum, should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat.

Of course, the best option is a basement if you have one. Otherwise, a pantry or kitchen cabinet is also great for storing alcohol.

Make sure that the bottle (closed or opened) remains upright. Unlike wine, which is often stored horizontally on a shelf, a bottle of rum (and other alcoholic beverages) must be stored vertically. This is to prevent liquid from coming into contact with the cork or screw cap, which could cause corrosion and affect taste and quality.

If you have a small amount of rum in a bottle and you do not plan to finish the bottle soon, it is recommended that you pour the rum into a smaller bottle such as a decanter. More air accelerates oxidation and evaporation, which affects the taste.

How long can it last?

Distilled beverages have a different shelf life than other alcoholic beverages like beer and wine because they are made from different ingredients and processes. Distilled spirits, including rum, have the most extended and most stable shelf life.

Alcoholic beverages should not be confused with sweetened and flavored wines. An example of a liqueur is Baileys Irish Cream. Creamy alcoholic beverages like Baileys have a shorter shelf life of only 2 years due to the milk content.

When stored properly, an unopened bottle of rum will last for years or even decades. If you find an old unopened bottle of rum in your basement, feel free to drink it. Make sure the bottle is still completely sealed and that there are no signs of contamination or damage.

An open bottle of rum will remain at its best quality for several months after it has been opened, around 6 to 8 months. It is best to consume rum during this period when it is still in good condition. After a while, you can expect the taste and smell to change. The changes may be subtle and some people may not even notice. If that’s the case, then it will be fine to consume as long as you’re ok with the flavor profile.

When should you open your rum?

When you have rum that is unopened, and you don’t keep it forever as a collectible, you may wonder when is the right time to open it.

Open the bottle at a time that works for your schedule, so to speak. As you get closer to the six to eight-month rule, you can invite a few friends to share the rest of the bottle with them.

There is a smart way to extend the shelf life of your rum or other alcoholic beverage.

If you don’t want to force yourself to drink a bottle of rum for those 6 to 8 months, here’s a simple trick you can use to try to extend this period, and therefore, the rum’s quality.

Tip: Transfer the rum to a smaller bottle if the rum content in the original bottle has decreased.

If you gradually pour the rum into smaller bottles, the flavor may last longer.

The reason for this is the famous oxidation process. When you drink rum, the ratio changes from air to rum. The more air you put in the rum bottle, the faster the oxidation process will be and remove the flavor of the rum.

If you decide to do this, make sure that the bottles or small containers can be closed tightly to ensure that little air gets into the bottle so all the flavors of the delicious rum aren’t stolen.

If you follow the proper steps, unopened rum will continue to be used for many years, if not indefinitely. But once the rum bottle is opened, make sure it is tightly closed after use and stored properly. To do this, use a screw cap and gradually fill the rum into smaller bottles to improve the shelf life of your rum significantly.

How to check if rum is bad

Although this is very rare, rum can still go wrong, especially if stored incorrectly. In some cases, you may need to ditch the rum for quality reasons.

It is always helpful to use your senses to check for signs of damage. Check its appearance, smell, and taste. Look closely at the bottle. Check for spills or contaminants, mostly if you leave the bottle open for some time.

If the rum still looks good, try smelling it. If there is no unpleasant odor, it should be fine to drink.

If you think the taste hasn’t changed or is acceptable, feel free to drink it.

FAQs

Does coconut rum bad?

Technically speaking, coconut rum (Malibu being the best-known brand) is a liqueur rather than a distilled spirit, like straight rum or whiskey. It is made with rum with coconut extract and contains 21% alcohol by volume.

Malibu Coconut Rum has a shelf life of one year after opening. After this time, you can expect changes in taste and quality.

Is rum gluten-free?

Most rum is gluten-free. Rum is made with molasses or juices without wheat or other grains. However, when purchasing rum that is flavored, you may need to refer to the ingredient list to see if it is gluten-free.

How many calories does rum contain?

According to the USDA database, jaggery rum equivalent to 1.5 fluid ounces with 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof) contains 97 calories.

Final Round

Like any other distilled spirit, rum has a stable shelf life if left closed. It can easily last for several years or even decades with proper storage. In other words, rum in its closed, original bottle does not expire.

If opened, rum can last several months without losing color or flavor. After that, you may notice a difference. To help keep the rum tasting great even after this period, try to put it in a smaller container or decanter so the quality of the rum remains high. Make sure the seal on the bottle is tight to prevent evaporation.

You may want to throw it out if it doesn’t taste as good as it looks. Therefore, it is best to drink rum within the first few months for the best quality.

To learn more about rum, check out the article What is the difference between dark rum and white rum?

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