rum shelf life

Does Rum Go Bad? The Truth About This Wine Expiration

Quick summary: No, rum does not go bad in the sense of becoming unsafe to drink. It has an indefinite shelf life, and unopened bottles can last for many years without a significant change in quality. However, once opened, rum can slowly evaporate and its flavor may become less intense over the years.

If you are like most and use rum only when making cakes, then you are probably wondering if it can spoil and does it lose quality over time? You are in the right place for answers.

Individuals who enjoy a glass of rum are very familiar with its values and how to store it to retain flavor properly. Rum is strong alcohol and, as such, can last forever. 

Yet connoisseurs will notice a difference if a bottle of rum stays open for a long time. Not many of them will let it happen since quality rum is not a cheap liquor at all.

For all the rest of us who use rum on rare occasions as an addition to our favorite cakes, we will hardly ever notice the difference between stale or fresh rum. 

Here’s one interesting thing. Rum is strong alcohol that, once bottled, does not gain in quality over time. This can only happen at manufacturers who do the aging process in wooden barrels. 

In a glass bottle, the rum will be the same now and in twenty years. Read other interesting facts about the duration of rum and how to store it.

How Long Does Rum Last?

Rum will not spoil. Never. It indeed has an indefinite shelf life. However, if you aim to enjoy a glass of the perfect sip, you will certainly not appreciate the fact that rum, with time, can evaporate in opened bottle. Here are the basic values of duration.

Unopened rum

As long as the bottle of rum is not opened, it can truly last forever. And shelf life will not change regardless of the rum storage conditions. Neither quality nor taste should be much impaired. Note that this applies to pure rum containing 40 or more percent alcohol. 

There are different rum-based blends on the market, but they do not have the same duration as stable alcohol of pure rum. For such products, check the expiration date written on the label.

Opened rum

Once you open the rum, the process of oxidation and slow evaporation begins. This can eventually lead to the rum being a bit bland and no longer having its quality of flavor. 

Don’t worry, it still doesn’t mean that the opened bottle of drink is spoiled. But to enjoy the maximum aroma, some experts advise you to consume the bottle within a few months instead of stretching it on for a few years. Again shelf life of rum, even when opened, will be indefinite.

Can Rum Go Bad?

No, like other spirits, rum can never go bad in terms of making you sick. However, certain changes can occur in the taste because, as the alcohol evaporates, so does the aroma. 

That would be roughly the only downside of the old rum. How to check if the rum has expired?

Here’s how to tell if rum is no longer good:

Taste is not the same 

The only way to test if rum has been open for too long is to pour a little into a glass and try it. 

If the aroma seems to have changed significantly and has a slightly pale, stale taste, then that means you are dealing with a very old example of distilled spirits that has seen too many open days. However, this does not mean you should not drink expired alcohol if the taste does not bother you.

What Is The Best Way To Store Rum? 

Storing rum has the most impact once you open the bottle. The chances of evaporation are higher from that moment on, so it is important to choose the right storage method. Especially if you plan to sip small drinks all year round. Here’s how to store alcohol properly.

Tip 1: Choose a cool and dark place

Even while the rum is not open, you should keep it at a comfortable temperature. The heat does not help any drink, not even unopened liquor. Choose a cozy pantry or liquor cabinet for unopened bottles. Avoid direct sunlight.

Keeping it in the fridge is really not necessary unless you prefer it for the pleasure of drinking. Although rum is usually consumed unrefrigerated, everyone can have their choice.

Tip 2: Keep tightly sealed  

It is important to seal the bottle tightly when not in use because liquid slowly evaporates. Evaporation occurs precisely because of the possibility of airflow.

It won’t matter if you plan to consume the rum within a month, but if you’re targeting multi-year storage, then close the bottle tightly.  

Tip 3: Pour remaining alcohol into a smaller bottle

Again, apply this advice only if you want to ensure a really long duration. If you have used up half a bottle, put the rest in a smaller bottle and close. This will leave less air in the bottle, so oxidation will be slower. Alcohol evaporates faster with air.  


How can you tell if rum is bad?

With pure rum, there will be no signs of spoilage of expired alcohol if stored properly. Only the aroma will be less intense and pale. After tasting, if you don’t like the flavor of aged rum, it’s time for a new bottle.    

Is it okay to drink expired rum?

Yes, it’s generally okay to drink slightly expired rum, but be cautious if there are noticeable changes in its appearance, smell, or taste.

Should you refrigerate rum?

No, rum doesn’t need to be refrigerated; storing it in a cool, dark place is sufficient.

How long can you keep rum once opened?

Once opened, rum can be kept for an indefinite period if stored properly in a cool, dark place, away from heat and direct sunlight. The alcohol content helps preserve its quality over time.


Rum is like its alcoholic relatives that can last indefinitely and not change its characteristics. An unopened bottle can stand for 20 years and won’t be any poorer than initially. Equally, it won’t get any better either, so there’s no reason to keep the bottle in hopes of aging well unless you’re a collector.

Open rum, however, tends to evaporate over time. But when we say over time, then we really mean years. Nothing will happen in a few months. 

See more: Vodka shelf life

*image by Wirestock/depositphotos

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