Rum is a well-known distilled spirit. It’s made by fermentation and then distillation of the sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice. Fermentation is a chemical change that converts carbohydrates to alcohol using microorganisms. Rum is stable alcohol, meaning it can be stored for many years without getting bad.
It doesn’t matter if the bottle of rum was sitting somewhere for years or previously opened and waiting to be finished. Rum is most likely to still be good. However, it can deteriorate with time if it’s poorly stored. But mostly, it stays good with time.
If rum is kept in a plastic bottle, it’s made to be consumed immediately. Alcohol reacts negatively with some of the plastic compounds, which leads to mild changes in taste if kept for a long time. Plastic reduces the shelf life of the rum, but there are some advantages: it’s easier to transport and fewer chances to break the bottle.
Alcohol should be stored in tightly-sealed bottles because alcohol evaporates faster than water, which makes rum milder. Also, there is oxidation, which together with evaporation, can change the taste of the rum.
When the bottle is stored correctly, these processes are prolonged, so the taste will stay the same for longer.
Does rum taste different in a plastic bottle versus a glass bottle?
Plastic is more permeable than glass, meaning oxygen and carbon dioxide are more likely to get into a plastic container than in glass. That’s why fine spirits are always bottled in glass but not in plastic. Plastic is primarily used for spirits that should be consumed in a short period of time.
Rum may taste differently in a plastic bottle, especially if it was in this bottle for some time. You don’t notice smells from glass. But you may when you drink from a plastic bottle — there is a particular odor, which is typical for plastic.
This can influence the flavor of the rum because this smell affects the taste. That’s why many people prefer drinking rum from glass and not from plastic.
What plastic is safe for alcohol?
There is a specific plastic that can be used for storing alcohol. It’s called PET (polyethylene terephthalate, semicrystalline), which is compatible with holding 1-100% ethyl alcohol. This type of plastic will not get dissolved by ethanol. It is also the most common plastic that is used for food and drink storage.
Best storage options for rum
The shelf life of rum is quite long. Actually, if stored correctly, it can be indefinite. This means that your favorite rum can be safe sitting for a long time in your cabinet. As long as the bottle is unopened and the seal is good, the rum should stay as good as it is for at least 20 years.
However, after opening the bottle, the shelf life of rum may be reduced, as it can slowly deteriorate. Most people recommend drinking liquors within a couple of months because of the possibility of deterioration. However, this process is relatively slow, and even after a couple of years, it will be hard to tell the difference in taste.
It is good to know that all of that applies to pure rum. There are many other rum-based drinks, which can not be stored for an extended period of time. If the bottle is not about 80 proof or 40% alcohol by volume, there is a chance that this is a liqueur based on rum. It will taste good only for a few months after opening the bottle. Base liquors, such as rum, will no longer age once they’re bottled. That’s why unopened bottles of rum can taste the same for 20 years or even more.
To learn more about rum-based liqueur, read the article Does RumChata Go Bad?
But it’s also worth mentioning that with time, rum will not get better, and the taste will not be different. It may deteriorate, as there are two processes that affect the taste of rum. If the spirit is not stored the right way, it will become milder, and the taste may change a little bit.
Suggested reading: Does Rum Go Bad After Opening? (How Long It Keeps)
Hard liquor is durable, while some kinds of rum can go bad. There are several main factors that you can follow to make sure you store your rum correctly.
These factors include:
- Exposure to light;
- The amount of air in the bottle;
- The temperature in the storage place.
Direct daylight may reduce the color of dark rum by 10 to 40%. After extended exposure to the light, the color of rum can become muddier. And if the bottle is left in direct sunlight, then the color will change dramatically.
Another critical factor is the amount of air in the bottle. Air makes rum oxidize faster. That’s why the more air in the bottle, the faster is the oxidation. This leads to changes in taste. Also, make sure the bottle is tightly closed. The bottles of rum should be kept at an optimum temperature to preserve the quality of the product.
It is recommended to store rum in a cool place, without direct daylight. If you opened a bottle, then keep it in a darker glass. If your bottle is half full, then it’s better to pour the rest of the rum into a smaller bottle to reduce air in the bottle.
A cork can allow some air movement in the bottle. That’s why you should choose a tightly sealed cap. Also, it’s essential to store your rum without a pourer attached. The bottle should always be tightly closed, and the pourer will make rum evaporate and oxidize quicker.
Is it better to drink from glass or plastic?
It depends on your preferences. You probably won’t notice smells from the glass, but when you drink from a plastic glass, there is a particular odor. This can influence the flavor of the rum because this smell affects the taste. That’s why many people prefer drinking rum from glass and not from plastic.
Plastic contains ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid, which tend to leach to a greater extent when used for storing alcohol for a long time. And if the temperature is high, those chemicals can get into the drink.
It can be compared to the taste of water in a bottle left in the car for several days in the sun. These chemicals are not good for health, and the taste of the drink may change.
Glass has high resistance for leaching because of its solid surface. Glass bottles also go through a specific process that helps to ensure a smooth, air-tight environment, which is needed for storing alcohol.
When determining if you want to purchase a plastic or glass bottle of rum, you need to consider the situation. If you’re planning to use it all up within a couple of months, then a plastic bottle should suffice. But if you’re looking for a bottle of rum you want to keep for a longer period of time, definitely go with a glass bottle.
And if you’re sipping on a fine rum or drinking a classy cocktail, then drinking it from a glass is the way to go.