How long can an opened bottle of alcohol be kept?

Updated July 19, 2017

The shelf life of types of distilled spirits differs among varieties such as wines, liqueurs and hard liquors because of variances in sugar content and resistance to oxidation. When you store them properly, however, most spirits will retain flavour and body long enough for you to consume them.


Wine generally has a short shelf life once a bottle is open. After wine has been exposed to the air, oxygen begins to seep into the liquid, changing its composition. According to, an open bottle of wine will only keep up to three days, after which it will rapidly lose its flavour and substance.


Liqueurs, or flavoured liquors, have high sugar contents and higher concentrations of alcohol than wine. For example, according to the Baileys website, its Irish cream liqueur will remain fresh unopened or opened for up to two years. Certain brands of liqueurs, such as Baileys, also label their bottles with expiration dates for consumers' reference.


Liquors, or distilled alcohol minus flavourings or added sugars, have high alcohol contents and are generally unresponsive to oxidation. This category of spirits offers the longest shelf life, therefore, and Captain Morgan's website indicates that, if they are stored in a cool, dry, lowlight environment, liquors like rum can last nearly indefinitely.

bibliography-icon icon for annotation tool Cite this Article

About the Author

Liz Strader has been a professional writer since 2000, with credits that include business blogs for social media sites, and Web content and resume-writing for Clear Choice Resumes. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Augustana College and completed the National Resume Writers certification in 2010.