If you’re anything like me, you’ll have jars and bottles of old brews laying around – some years old – some possibly older!
Being the curious person I am I want to see how these artifcats taste. Perhaps they have aged into something incredible..
But is it safe to do so? How long does moonshine last?
Despite moonshine being an incredibly shelf-stable product and excellent preservative, it can go bad. When improperly stored–exposed to heat, kept in plastic containers, or left to oxidize–the spirit can eventually become contaminated, lose its potency and become the perfect home for bacterial growth, making it less favorable to drink.
In this post, we’ll discuss the factors that affect the integrity of moonshine, cues that yours has gone bad, and how to prevent spoilage.
Table of Contents
Does Moonshine Go Bad?
Moonshine can go bad over time. When improperly stored–exposed to heat, kept in plastic containers, or left to oxidize–the spirit loses its potency and leads to bacterial growth, making it less favorable to drink.
How Long Does Moonshine Stay Good For?
Let’s take a quick look at how long you can expect different types of homemade spirits to last
Homemade moonshine typically has a long shelf life. Because it has high alcohol content, it’s stable. You can enjoy your drink several years after you’ve made it. But, if you add flavorings–fruit, sugar–they can reduce its longevity, requiring you to consume it within a year.
|Type Of Spirt||Est. Shelf Life|
Being a neutral spirit, vodka has a long shelf life. Vodka can last if kept in an air tight container.
Because vodka is unflavored, you don’t need to worry about the flavors degrading or going off over time. Instead, the biggest issue is the vodka absorbing forign flavors. Alcohol is hygroscopic, so i can absorb moisture from the air. That means it can also absorb flavors/smells from the environment too.
For example, vodka kept in a fridge with other foods can abosrb the flavor of the food that nearby – we don’t want garlic flavored vodka.. do we?
My Tip: Keep vodka in and air tight glass container or bottle with its lid on tight – it will last for a very long time
Because gin is flavored and re-distilled, it can last indefinitely. Once open, it’s best to consume it within a year or two for optimum flavor.
Whiskey and Rum
Whiskey and rum can remain drinkable and enjoyable for many years, even decades, if stored in suitable conditions.
Can You Drink Old Moonshine? (My Opinion)
You can drink old moonshine if you’ve stored it properly, and it remains unopened until you decide to consume it. Once open and improperly stored, it results in contamination and oxidation (more on this below).
- Glass Container: If your moonshine is stored in a glass bottle or container, and the lid looks ok, there’s a very low chance your moonshine can hurt you. It may taste like garbage, but it’ll be safe to drink.
- Non-glass container: If you’re moonshine is stored in a non inert marterial, especially plastic, I wouldn’t drink it. Alcohol can leach chemicals from the plastic over time and you have no idea what that can do to your body. My advice is to chuck it out!
How Can You Tell If Moonshine Is Bad? (4 Tests)
Here are some indicators that moonshine is bad.
Check The Color
Moonshine should have a clear appearance. If it appears cloudy, discolored, or contains sediment, it indicates spoilage.
Give It A Smell
Spoiled moonshine may emit foul or off-putting odors because of the presence of contaminants or bacteria. A strong acetone or vinegar-like smell is a potential sign of spoilage.
The Taste Test
Bad moonshine may have a harsh taste, or taste significantly different from its original profile. If the flavor seems off or rancid, it’s likely gone bad.
Inspect the Container/Bottle for Corrosion or Damage
Are there any signs of corrosion, leakage, or damage? This can compromise the quality and safety of the spirit.
5 Considerations to Keep Moonshine from Going Bad:
To preserve the quality of your spirit, consider the following factors:
- Storage container (plastic vs. glass vs. metal)
- Keep oxygen out
- Keep out of sunlight and in a cool location
- Minimize loss through evaporation
- Understand aging
Storage container (plastic vs. glass vs. metal)
Avoid plastic containers as they can interact with the spirit and introduce unwanted odors and flavors. Plastic can leach antimony, phthalates, and lead, compromising the quality of your liquor and, potentially, your health. We suggest you use non-reactive materials such as glass or metal–specifically stainless steel. Glass is inert, so it won’t impart any flavor, while stainless steel is sterile and imparts little to no flavor to your drink.
Keep oxygen out
Oxygen can accelerate the deterioration process. When alcohol reacts with oxygen, it undergoes oxidation. Oxidation converts ethanol into acetaldehyde and then into acetic acid. Acetic acid is responsible for the sour taste and aroma you’d find in spoiled alcoholic beverages. Use airtight lids to create a barrier between the moonshine and the surrounding air.
Keep out of sunlight and in a cool location
Sunlight can degrade the quality of moonshine by promoting chemical reactions and causing off-flavors. Store your moonshine in a dark and cool place, away from direct sunlight or heat sources, to maintain its quality.
Minimize loss through evaporation
When alcohol evaporates, the concentration of alcohol in the remaining liquid increases. This can lead to a more potent taste. Also, it can alter the balance of flavors, resulting in a flat taste and a lighter mouthfeel.
Understanding Aging (does it get better with time?)
While certain spirits like whiskey and rum can improve with aging, homemade moonshine may not necessarily benefit from extended storing periods. Because moonshine is generally unaged, leaving it in glass jars merely allows the compounds to marry for a couple of days, but anything longer than that, the spirit remains unchanged. If you want to harness the complexities of your moonshine, age in oak barrels or use inserts like oak chips.
Moonshine can go bad over time, and its longevity varies depending on the type of spirit and storage conditions. Proper storage, including the choice of container and minimizing exposure to oxygen and sunlight, can extend the shelf life and retain the quality of your moonshine. If you suspect your moonshine has gone bad, inspect its color, smell, taste, and the presence of sediment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can I drink 2-year-old moonshine?
You can drink 2-year-old moonshine. When properly stored, the moonshine will taste just as good as when you made it.
Q. Is it okay to drink old moonshine?
You can drink old moonshine if it was properly stored. If you think it’s gone bad, smell it and take a sip. If you pick up any foul odors and taste, discard it.
Q. Does moonshine in a Mason jar go bad?
Moonshine stored in a mason jar doesn’t go bad. Glass is an excellent storage medium because it doesn’t impart any odors or taste to your spirit. Ensure you tightly seal the jar to prevent any contact with air.
Q. How long will moonshine last in a jar?
Homemade moonshine can last indefinitely when stored properly.
Q. Can you get sick from bad moonshine?
Bad moonshine is likely contaminated with bacteria, which can make you sick.
Q. What happens if you drink bad moonshine?
Drinking bad moonshine can result in unpleasant tastes, potential intoxication, and health risks because of contamination.