How Long Does Vodka Last & How to Store Properly?

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Vodka is a world-famous alcoholic drink, beloved by many, made by distilling liquid from cereal and grains. The newer vodka versions are now made by distilling potatoes, but there are versions containing fruit, honey, or maple sap as a base. 

Vodka is known as the cleanest alcoholic drink as it is distilled three times, but there are some types of vodka, such as the Svedka Vodka, which is distilled five times, Kruto Vodka, which is distilled nine times, the Platinum Vodka, distilled ten times, etc. 

Enjoyed by many worldwide, vodka is a typically high-burn spirit, meaning that you fill feel it long after it’s gone. You can serve vodka chilled, in a martini glass with a lemon slice on the rim, on the rocks poured in a short glass over a few cubes of ice, or mixed with ice in a shaker served in a short glass.

Vodka is served cold so as to subdue the signature burn that it creates, but not overly cold, as that would diminish its flavor. 

Because vodka, though sometimes very flavorful, is not overburdened or dominated by a single flavor, it is widely used for cocktails or is simply combined with orange, cranberry, or blueberry juice.

Vodka contains zero sugars and falls under the category of alcoholic drinks that can last up to a hundred years unopened, as it doesn’t actually expire. However, even though vodka doesn’t expire, it can go bad and lose quality to a large extent, in which case you’ll get a very unpleasant aroma and flavor, and don’t get me started on the aftermath. 

So, how long does vodka last? 

Unopened vodka can last up to a hundred years and is sealed; it can be stored indefinitely. Opening the bottle of vodka will trigger the oxidation process meaning that the vodka will start so slowly go bad. However, even then, this process is very long, which means that the vodka can sit in an open bottle and still be good for another ten years. 

In theory, vodka storage seems effortless, but in practice, as simple as it is, it does require you to meet certain conditions so that you can enjoy your vodka as long as possible. In the following article, I will explain how long does vodka lasts opened/unopened, in the freezer, in the fridge, and in the heat. 

vodka bottle

How Long Does Vodka Last when Opened?

Opened vodka can last up to ten or even 20 years, provided that you store it the right way. Once you open your vodka, the seal breaks, which sets up the oxygenation process. However, vodka is an incredibly durable spirit, so the oxygenation process doesn’t happen very quickly. On the contrary, it is a slow-paced process, and you will have probably finished off many vodka bottles before there’s even a trace of them going bad. 

The trick is to always cover your vodka bottle with its original cap and don’t risk losing it with another one, as the ridges are not the same, meaning that you will have air penetrating vodka discretely at all times. The original cap has been made for your bottle of vodka, and no other cap will fit so perfectly.  

Tighten the cap as fast as you can so as to prevent air from going into the bottle while you store it. Always store your bottle of vodka upright, not horizontally and not tilted, so as to prevent spillage and let perfectly good vodka go to waste. 

Another thing you need to keep an eye on is to store your bottle of vodka in a dark and chill area. The sunlight will increase the temperature of the vodka and will additionally help the oxygenation process, meaning that the vodka will go bad faster if kept in a warm and bright location. 

Make sure your vodka bottle is always chilled, and avoid covering it with a cloth to prevent the light from penetrating the bottle. Instead, opt for a dark and chili room altogether. 

How Long Does Vodka Last in the Freezer?

Since vodka isn’t perishable, you don’t have to freeze it to preserve it. However, it is not uncommon for people to freeze vodka as the low temperatures impact the taste. 

Some would argue that keeping good vodka in the freezer will diminish its quality, as the cold temperature will affect the subtle tastes and aromas added to the vodka. The honey and fruity notes are nonexistent in freezer-kept vodka. 

On the other hand, keeping your vodka in the freezer is good if you have some of the cheap stuff. The low temperature will mask the aggressiveness and excessive burn, which are typical for the cheap vodka brands. 

Although it is commonly served freezer-chilled with ice, the freezer is not a suitable place for long-term vodka storage. The low temperature will not prolong the already long shelf-life of the vodka and can impair the taste of high-quality vodka. 

Keep your vodka bottle in the freezer sporadically when you want it to chill fast, or if you like that typical freezer, chill in your vodka. If you want to store it in the freezer for a more extended period, don’t go over three months. 

Don’t worry about your vodka freezing solid, as the temperature needs to be below -35 C for this to happen. The home freezers primarily operate on -18 C, which means they don’t even reach the temperature needed for the vodka to freeze. 

How Long Does Whiskey Last Unopened?

Unopened whiskey doesn’t go bad, and you can store it indefinitely with its original seal. However, once you open it, the oxygenation process starts, and it will last up to two years this way, depending on how much whiskey is left in the bottle. 

As long as there is half or more than a half whiskey left in the bottle, the oxygenation process will progress at a slower pace, as there is more liquid than air. Once the bottle is more than half empty, the whiskey will oxygenize more rapidly, as there will be more air than liquid in the bottle. 

When there’s a quarter of whiskey left in the bottle, the remaining whiskey is likely to go bad in six months or a little under. 

How To Store Opened Vodka?

Once you open the vodka bottle, the oxygenation process starts, but luckily, this process tends to progress slowly, so you have a good amount of time to finish off the bottle, ten to 20 years. 

However, improper storage can speed up this process which will significantly diminish the quality of the vodka. The vodka will not perish or expire, as it doesn’t even have an expiration date, but oxygenized vodka has a really unpleasant taste and aroma. 

The first thing you need to do to properly store opened vodka is to make sure you use the original cap and close it tightly. The subtle air penetration can be detrimental to the vodka, and therefore, fastening the cap is of utmost importance. 

The second thing to have in mind is storing the vodka at the appropriate temperature. Room temperature, or a bit colder, is ideal for vodka storage, while the warmer temperature is not suitable for storing your vodka at. 

Storing your vodka at an easily accessible location where you can easily find it and remove it from is also an essential factor. Sometimes, due to reasons we are unaware of, the temperature at the vodka storage unit can increase, and you need to act fast. 

The brightness of the vodka storage is probably the crucial factor in determining the ideal location to store your vodka bottle. The room where you store your vodka has to be dark, and if there’s some sunlight entering it, make sure the vodka is not under it. 

Sunlight increases the possibility of your vodka going bad sooner, so make sure you store it in a dark and colder room. 

The quantity of the vodka remaining in the bottle is also a factor. As long as there’s more vodka than the air inside the bottle, you’re good, but once there’s more air than vodka, the oxygenation process speeds up. 

And lastly, keep the vodka stored upright so as to prevent any spillage. Don’t store it leaned or tilted, and never place it horizontally. 

How To Store Unopened Vodka?

Unopened or sealed vodka doesn’t need to be stored in any particular way, as it is protected well enough. Keeping it in a dark chili area is always a good idea, as you can definitely not harm the vodka by being slightly more cautious. 

Unopened vodka basically takes care of itself, so you don’t have to do anything special to keep it safe or retain its quality. Whether you buy it and keep it for 20 years, or drink it the next day, doesn’t make a difference, as the vodka will taste the same. 

What Is the Shelf Life of Vodka?

Vodka is a highly durable spirit, and it doesn’t even have an expiration date, whereas some other spirits do. Opened, vodka is good for another ten, maybe 20 years if you store it correctly. Unopened vodka can go for maybe a hundred years, and sealed vodka can be stored indefinitely. 

Basically, vodka doesn’t expire, but it can evaporate and oxygenate, which leads to it going bad. The vodka that has gone bad is still drinkable, but it tends to taste and smell funny. However, the chances of having vodka that has gone bad are very slim, as you will indeed drink it for way less than 20 years after opening the bottle. 

Moreover, vodka is distilled three times as a standard, and sometimes even more, so there are no substances left in the drink that can react and cause damage. That’s why the oxygenation process takes so long to make even the slightest dent in the vodka drink. 

Still, the shelf-life won’t be as long if we’re discussing flavored vodka, which contains added artificial flavors, aromas, and colors. The artificial ingredients added to alter the flavor and color of the vodka disrupt the purity of the drink and, therefore, make it prone to spoiling, in a sense. 

The shelf life of flavored vodka is about three months after opening, and it is best to have it chilled, as the flavors can be very intense if you have your flavored vodka at room temperature.

Can Vodka Go Bad in Heat?

Since vodka is a very low-maintenance drink and a very durable spirit, there are not many things that can harm it, and those who can do so very slowly. Therefore, with vodka, you are virtually always safe. 

Heat is one of the few things that can turn vodka bad; however, this doesn’t have to happen if your vodka bottle is unopened or sealed, but if you have opened the vodka, it is best that you avoid warm spaces for long-term vodka storage. 

The heat-damaged vodka usually seems cloudy and blurry, while it is supposed to be translucent and extremely clear. The change of color is easily visible in vodka, and if it is anything but crystal clear, you should discard it immediately.

Also, the smell of heat-damaged vodka is foul, and even if it hasn’t changed its color, this smell is never a good sign. Moreover, if the heat managed to damage the vodka, there’s no going back, so your only option is to throw it away. 

Does Vodka Go Bad if Opened and not Refrigerated?

There’s no need to refrigerate vodka to prevent it from going bad or to prolong its shelf- life. Freezing and refrigerating vodka only impact the flavor, not the shelf life of the drink. 

Your vodka is super safe as long as you keep it out of the sunlight and at a lower temperature. Refrigerating the vodka will milden up the burn it causes when you swallow it and will also dull any aggressiveness it may have, which is especially true for the cheaper vodka brands. 

Resources: 

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vodka
  2. https://www.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/news/2018/11/wait–you_re-not-supposed-to-keep-vodka-in-the-freezer-
  3. https://www.coopwinespiritsbeer.com/learn/simple-ways-to-serve-vodka/

Chad Smith

Hello and Welcome, I am Chad, a formal bartender. I created this blog to help readers make exotic cocktails at home.

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