Taming Your Liquor Cabinet

You’ve hung up the decorations, put out the snacks and vacuumed the living room. It’s holiday house party season once again, but before you start taking coats and making small talk you still have one chore left—cleaning out the liquor cabinet.

Let’s take a quick look at your collection. Any unopened bottles of white or brown spirits that have been stored upright and away from sun or heat should be fine, even if they’re decades old. But, unlike wine, once liquor is bottled it stops aging. So that 12-year-old Scotch you bought in Edinburgh 10 years ago is still just a 12-year-old.

Next toss any vermouth that’s been open for longer than three months—store your next bottle in the fridge. Liqueurs should also be thrown out if they were opened more than a couple of years ago. (To make things easier some brands, like Baileys, actually list an expiration date on the bottle.) Sherries and ports are very delicate and once opened last only a few fleeting days or, at most, weeks. Anything older than two months needs to go.

Now the hard part: figuring out which open spirits bottles are still good. Oxygen is no friend of alcohol. The less liquid left in a bottle the faster you should finish it. Take off the cap and take a whiff. Faded or off aromas mean it’s past its prime. Still can’t tell? Pour yourself a dram and take a small sip. If the liquor tastes like a shadow of its former self, chuck it. But if it tastes good, have another drink. You deserve it.

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Comments

  1. Terry B. says

    Taming a cocktail? Am I missing something here,or,what?I don’t want my cocktail to be tame.That’s why I drink it.I like my cocktail’s to be good and strong.Isn’t that why we drink them?Gotta have a little gitiup with those cocktail’s.Enjoy You’ll.Have a good day,or good night,depending when you check your e-mails.

  2. “Let’s take a quick look at your collection. Any unopened bottles of white or brown spirits that have been stored upright and away from sun or heat should be fine, even if they’re decades old. ”

    Storing them on their side affects them how?

  3. JM, greetings from London.

    Storing your white or brown spirits on their side tends to eat away at their metal closures and may cause nasty stains. We have whisk(e)ys from the early 1900s which are still happily snoozing, standing up. And a bottle of Cognac from the mid 1800s – likewise, no ‘part des anges’ yet and no seepage.

    Enjoy!

    Currently in the glass? A Patron Silver Margarita with a half-salted rim and freshly squeezed lime juice. Yum.

  4. Seth Schreiner says

    JM:

    If you stored your bottles on their side, the alcohol can eat through the cork and allow air to reach the spirits- which could have an adverse effect.

    Thanks,
    Seth

  5. I LOVE BRANDY BUT THERE SEEMS TO BE A LIMITED MARKET FOR NOVEL WAYS TO ENJOY,ANY SUGGESTIONS?

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