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Is it "safe" to drink from a bottle that's been open for years?


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Today for Thanksgiving I'll be visiting a relative's house.  She has a liquor cabinet with bottles of bourbon that have been open for the better part of 10 years, untouched since her divorce. 

 

It's perfectly dark inside the liquor cabinet, so sun exposure is not an issue.   I realize there is likely some oxidation that would affect the taste, but is it otherwise "safe" to drink?    

 

I realize I could just bring my own bottle, and I might, but she'd be just as happy to have me get rid of the stuff in her cabinet assuming it's safe to do so. 

 

Thanks! 

Edited by Anvil 20
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It will be fine from a safety standpoint.  Like you mentioned, over oxidation could be an issue (particularly if a low fill) as far as taste goes, though. I’d steer clear of liqueurs, or any other such spirit, though.  

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26 minutes ago, smokinjoe said:

It will be fine from a safety standpoint.  Like you mentioned, over oxidation could be an issue (particularly if a low fill) as far as taste goes, though. I’d steer clear of liqueurs, or any other such spirit, though.  


Why liqueurs? I was sampling my Grand Marnier that’s been open since 1998 on Friday and it was solid (although I had to replace the cork).

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Thinking a little more on this, were the events leading up to the divorce cordial?  ?

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4 minutes ago, Marekv8 said:


Why liqueurs? I was sampling my Grand Marnier that’s been open since 1998 on Friday and it was solid (although I had to replace the cork).

Hmmm, you’re obviously still kickin’  today, so perhaps I should rethink my liqueur position!  ?. I’ve just always been wary of the stability and shelf life of things with sugar or other organic additions.  I’m going to go with you on this, though, and drink up!  ?

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B.B. Babington

The bottles to steer clear of are the bottom shelf nasty stuff you'd avoid brand new, not for safety reasons but because some taste bad.  Maybe bring flask with you in case you have much better taste than what departing hubby left behind.  There could be a safety concern, some bottom shelfers have more fusels, aka hangover.

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20 minutes ago, smokinjoe said:

Hmmm, you’re obviously still kickin’  today, so perhaps I should rethink my liqueur position!  ?. I’ve just always been wary of the stability and shelf life of things with sugar or other organic additions.  I’m going to go with you on this, though, and drink up!  ?


I only get wary when the ABV drops below 18% or so. I’ve got plenty of amari bottles in their 20s that seem to get better and bitterer over time. 

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As others said they should be fine as long as they’ve been corked. You may want to hold them up to the light to see if there’s anything floating in there. I’ve watched (too much) Bar Rescue where bars get fruit flies in their bottles from not closing them every night and leaving the speed pours on them. Very unlikely it’s a problem in your case,  but since you don’t know exactly how they’ve been kept, it’s an easy check. ?? 

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I had some opened 1976 Beam and 1980 Ten High a couple years ago and had some serious GI issues..so id have a plan B

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Echoing the above, the less alcohol & more sugar, the higher the chances of something nasty making the bottle its home.

 

Old ceramic bottles may have lead issues.

 

Otherwise no safety concerns with older spirits. 

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