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“Bartender, a double rum and coke please!” You know who you are… Rum, a cherished yummy clear spirit savored across the world, often raises questions regarding its longevity. Rum drinkers frequently wonder: How long does it last? Does it expire? How should it be stored? This quick guide will answer all these questions and more, helping you ensure your rum maintains its best flavor and quality.

pirate drinking rum

Quality of Rum: A Key Factor

As an ex-bar owner, I know that the quality of your liquor plays a pivotal role in its shelf life. High-quality rums, such as aged or premium varieties, tend to last longer than their low-quality counterparts. This is primarily due to the extensive aging process high-quality rums undergo, which aids in preserving their flavor and potency.

On top of that, the airtight, robust bottles these rums are often packaged in provide additional protection against light and oxygen, which are known to degrade the spirit.

However, it’s essential to note that even the finest rums will start to lose their flavor and potency eventually. While some may last for decades or even centuries+called indefinite shelf life++ if stored correctly, most should be consumed within a couple of years of purchase to ensure maximum flavor and quality.

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proper storage for alcohol

Proper Storage of Rum

Storing rum correctly is crucial to prolong its life while maintaining its rich flavor. Here are a few tips for proper rum storage to keep the flavor of your rum A-OK…

  • Store rum in a cool, dry, and dark place.
  • Avoid storing it near heat sources or in direct sunlight.
  • If the bottle has a natural cork, store it on its side to prevent the cork from drying out. Synthetic corks don’t dry out as fast, but it is still recommended to store them on their sides.
  • Ensure the bottle is tightly closed and sealed when not in use to avoid air exposure.
  • If you won’t be using it often, consider transferring it to a smaller bottle or a stable, airtight food storage container. This will help to reduce the amount of oxygen exposure.

Understanding the Role of Temperature in Rum Storage

It’s vital to understand the difference between “cool” and “room temperature” when storing your favorite spirits. When we talk about “room temperature,” we generally refer to the average temperature of a room without any heating or cooling – usually around 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit (20-22 degrees Celsius). This is an acceptable temperature for storing many types of liquor, including rum, whiskey, tequila, and gin.

However, when we say “cool,” we usually mean a temperature slightly lower than room temperature – typically around 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit (10-18 degrees Celsius). This is an ideal temperature range for storing some types of liquor, such as white wine, champagne, and certain types of beer.

Unopened vs. Opened Bottles of Rum

An unopened bottle of rum can last for years or even decades if stored correctly. As long as the bottle remains sealed and is kept in a cool, dark place away from sunlight, heat, and oxygen, the unopened rum should remain fresh and delicious.

However, an opened bottle of rum has a shorter shelf life. Once the bottle is opened, it is exposed to oxygen, which can trigger the oxidation process leading to a loss of flavor and quality. Generally, most rums will start to lose their flavor and potency after about a year or so of being opened.

The Impact of Bottle Material: Glass vs. Plastic

If you’re wondering whether the bottle material affects the shelf life of your alcohol, the answer is – it does. Generally, glass bottles are considered the best material for storing rum as it doesn’t interact with the liquor and help to keep it fresh and flavorful for longer.

On the contrary, plastic can release chemicals that can affect the flavor and quality of your rum. Moreover, plastic is more susceptible to damage from heat, light, and oxygen, which can all cause your rum to degrade more quickly.

Recognizing Spoiled Rum

If your rum or distilled spirit has a strange odor, tastes off, or has changed color, it’s likely past its prime. Here are potential signs of spoilage…

  • It smells musty, moldy, or like acetone (nail polish remover).
  • It tastes flat or stale.
  • It’s discolored or has taken on a brownish or reddish hue.
  • Something is floating in the liquid.

If your rum exhibits any of these signs, it’s best to pour it down the sink.

Malibu liquor and rums all lined up

Shelf Life of Other Alcoholic Beverages

While we’ve focused on rum, it’s worth noting that the principles we’ve discussed also apply to other types of strong spirits. Unopened bottles of high-quality liquor that are stored properly can last for years, or even decades. However, once a bottle has been opened, its flavor and potency will gradually start to degrade.

How about Cream Liqueurs?

  1. Unopened Bottles: Cream-based liqueurs generally have a longer shelf life when the bottle remains unopened. Unopened cream liqueurs can last for several years if stored in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations.

    It’s important to check the bottle for any specific expiration date or “best before” information provided by the manufacturer.
  2. Opened Bottles: Once a cream liqueur bottle is opened, its shelf life is typically shorter due to the introduction of air and potential changes in temperature. For most cream liqueurs, it is recommended to consume the product within 6 months to 1 year after opening.

    Refrigerating the opened bottle can help extend its freshness, but it’s essential to check for any changes in taste, texture, or odor, as these can be indicators of spoilage.

It’s important to note that cream liqueurs contain dairy or dairy-like ingredients, and their freshness can be affected by factors like temperature, exposure to light, and overall storage conditions. Always follow any specific storage instructions provided by the manufacturer, and if there are noticeable changes in the product’s appearance or smell, it’s advisable to discard it.

To get the most accurate information about the shelf life of a particular cream liqueur, refer to the product’s label or contact the manufacturer directly, as they may provide specific guidance based on the formulation of their product.

man with nausea

Can Spoiled Liquor Make You Sick?

Most types of liquor, including rum, have a high alcohol content that can kill most bacteria and other microorganisms. As a result, the chances of getting sick from drinking rum or another type of hard liquor are relatively low. However, you should always store and serve your liquor properly and use good hygiene practices when preparing and serving drinks.

bacardi rum white and dark

Top Rum Brands

  1. Bacardi – Puerto Rico – Alcohol %: Varies (typically around 40%)
  2. Captain Morgan – Various locations (originally from Jamaica) – Alcohol %: Varies (usually around 35-40%)
  3. Havana Club – Cuba – Alcohol %: Varies (often around 40%)
  4. Mount Gay – Barbados – Alcohol %: Varies (commonly 40%)
  5. Appleton Estate – Jamaica – Alcohol %: Varies (often around 40%)
  6. Ron Diplomático – Venezuela – Alcohol %: Varies (commonly around 40-47%)
  7. Myers’s Rum – Jamaica – Alcohol %: Typically 40%
  8. Zacapa – Guatemala – Alcohol %: Varies (commonly 40-45%)
  9. Pyrat Rum – Various locations – Alcohol %: Varies (commonly around 40-40%)
  10. Malibu – Barbados – Alcohol %: Typically 21%
  11. Don Q – Puerto Rico – Alcohol %: Varies (commonly 40%)
  12. Flor de Caña – Nicaragua – Alcohol %: Varies (commonly 40%)
  13. Kraken Black Spiced Rum – Trinidad and Tobago – Alcohol %: Typically 40-47%
  14. Goslings – Bermuda – Alcohol %: Varies (commonly around 40%)
  15. El Dorado – Guyana – Alcohol %: Varies (commonly 40-43%)
  16. Bumbu – Barbados – Alcohol %: Typically 35-40%
  17. Chairman’s Reserve – Saint Lucia – Alcohol %: Typically 40-50%
  18. Rhum Barbancourt – Haiti – Alcohol %: Varies (commonly 40-43%)
  19. Kirk and Sweeney – Dominican Republic – Alcohol %: Typically 40-46%
  20. Angostura – Trinidad and Tobago – Alcohol %: Typically 37.5-47%
Rum Cocktail

​Cocktails For The Rum Enthusiasts

  1. Mai Tai
    • 2 oz Dark Rum
    • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
    • 3/4 oz Orange Liqueur
    • 1/2 oz Orgeat Syrup
    • Garnish: Lime wheel and mint sprig
  2. Piña Colada
    • 2 oz White Rum
    • 3 oz Coconut Cream
    • 3 oz Pineapple Juice
    • Garnish: Pineapple wedge and cherry
  3. Daiquiri
    • 2 oz White Rum
    • 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
    • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
    • Garnish: Lime wheel
  4. Dark ‘n’ Stormy
    • 2 oz Dark Rum
    • Ginger Beer
    • Garnish: Lime wedge
  5. Mojito
    • 2 oz White Rum
    • 1 oz Simple Syrup
    • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
    • 8-10 Fresh Mint Leaves
    • Soda Water
    • Garnish: Mint sprig and lime wedge
  6. Rum Punch
    • 2 oz Light Rum
    • 1 oz Dark Rum
    • 3 oz Orange Juice
    • 3 oz Pineapple Juice
    • 1/2 oz Grenadine
    • Garnish: Orange slice and cherry
  7. Cuba Libre
    • 2 oz Light Rum
    • Coca-Cola
    • Fresh Lime Juice
    • Garnish: Lime wedge
  8. Hurricane
    • 2 oz Light Rum
    • 2 oz Dark Rum
    • 1 oz Passion Fruit Juice
    • 3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
    • 1 oz Orange Juice
    • 1/4 oz Simple Syrup
    • Garnish: Orange slice and cherry
  9. Rum Sour
    • 2 oz Dark Rum
    • 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
    • 1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
    • Egg white (optional)
    • Garnish: Lemon twist
  10. Coconut Rum Martini:
    • 2 oz Coconut Rum
    • 1 oz Vanilla Vodka
    • 1/2 oz Coconut Cream
    • Garnish: Toasted coconut flakes

Happy Hour Closed

I’m the type to have a few beers on the weekend, nothing serious. But, when it comes to the holidays or my birthday, I tend to go buy a bottle of dark rum (Xmas time) and a white rum on the other occasions. In a nutshell, unopened bottles of high-quality rum can last for years or even decades if stored correctly.

Opened bottles will start to lose their flavor and potency over time but can still be enjoyed for up to a year or so. Although the fridge is a good place to store the rum, it might not be a good idea for those drinking it neat. A cool place like a pantry or somewhere without light exposure. 

A good rule of thumb is to consume your rum within 6 months of opening. The good news is that for most of us, that is no issue! Whatever type of rum you are handling tonight the best way to store it is NOT to store it and finish it off with your significant other or some friends! 

Remember, the quality of your rum does matter, and proper storage is key to ensuring maximum freshness and flavor.  Enjoy your rum responsibly, and when in doubt, mix it with some Coke for a classic cocktail. Cheers!

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