Some alcohol cabinets just seem to attract drinks. Every now and then, you can find yourself looking at a bottle thinking “when did I buy this?” More often than not, it seems to be brandy. The chances are also good that it won’t get used too often either. Really, when we drink brandy, few of us have more than one at a time. As a result, it can easily be forgotten about. So, that bottle – will it stay good for a while? Does it need to be chucked out? There are few things more painful than chucking out expensive liquors, so these are valid questions. Luckily, we’ve scoured the internet so you don’t have to. The answer to these questions and more can be found below. Read on!
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Does Brandy Go Bad?
If it is stored correctly, brandy will last for an incredibly long time. This is due to its high alcohol content. Ethanol is a very hostile environment for bacteria, so there is little that can go wrong. However, this does not mean that brandy will last forever. Things can go wrong, no matter how hard you try. For example, even opening the bottle will make it go off quicker. To get to the bottom of how long it lasts, we compiled this handy little guide. Hopefully, it answers any questions you could possibly have.
How Do I Store Brandy?
Thankfully, storing randy isn’t exactly rocket science. There are just a few pitfalls that need to be avoided. To get to the bottom of it, we have put together a storage guide on how to store both unopened and opened bottles. Follow these tips and you can be sure that your bottle will last for the longest possible time. We’ll start with the most straightforward of the two – unopened bottles.
Unopened bottles of brandy
Unopened bottles of brandy need very little in the way of care and maintenance. Most strong alcohol is stored in the same way. After all, there is great logic to having an alcohol cabinet. It is cold in there, and it is dark. If you don’t have an alcohol cabinet, don’t worry about it. All you need to remember is to keep the unopened bottle away from the elements that can harm it. Sunlight can damage a brandy pretty badly. It will stream through the bottle and gradually break down the flavor compounds over time. Heat can do the very same. For bottles that have a cork in them, the storage technique is a little more complicated. The cork needs to be kept wet at all times or it may shrivel and fall into the bottle. The best way to prevent this is by storing the bottle on its side.
Opened bottles of brandy
Opened bottles of brandy need a little bit more care than unopened bottles do. They don’t need to be refrigerated or anything dramatic, but there are more fail points to be aware of. The most important thing is to always keep the bottle really well sealed. If you don’t do this, alcohol will evaporate out of the neck of the bottle. If the lid is left off, oxidation can also occur. This is when the surface of the liquid that is exposed to oxygen begins to change. And the change is not one for the better. To a degree, this can happen even when the bottle is sealed properly. This will mainly happen when the bottle is half empty, or emptier than that. The key is that the more oxygen can get into the bottle, the more oxidation you will have. So, how do you stop this from happening?
The best way to stop oxidation is to transfer the brandy into a smaller bottle once it is more than half empty. This will reduce the amount of oxygen in the bottle, meaning less oxidation.
Should You Refrigerate Brandy?
Refrigerating brandy won’t make it last longer, even after it has been opened. This isn’t to say that you should never put brandy in the fridge though. For some drinks, brandy can taste much better when chilled. If you are having guests over, there is no harm in putting a bottle in the fridge a few hours beforehand.
Can You Freeze Brandy?
The simple answer is no. The more alcohol there is in a drink, the lower the freezing temperature is. Brandy won’t freeze above -10 degrees Fahrenheit, or -23 degrees Celsius. This is colder than most home freezers can go, so it simply might not be possible for you. In fact, even if it was, there is no reason to do it. It won’t make it last longer, and it won’t do anything for the flavor.
How Long Does Brandy Last?
So we have said that brandy can last pretty much forever. Still, when exactly is forever, and are there conditions to this? Of course, the answer is yes. Below we will try to expose the real shelf-life of brandy.
Unopened bottles of brandy
Unopened bottles of brandy will last an awful lot longer than their opened counterparts. This is simply because they won’t have come into contact with any oxygen. But, if it has been stored carefully, it can be a real survivor. For example, in 2014, a bottle of brandy sold at auction that was distilled in 1762. Though it was 252 years old, the experts agreed that the brandy was drinkable. Now, we know that you won’t want to keep brandy for that long, but it is still comforting to know.
Opened bottles of brandy
Opened bottles of brandy won’t have any of the same longevity as a closed bottle does. No matter what you do, it will begin to lose its quality as soon as the air outside hits it. That being said, you do have time. There is no need to consume it over the course of a weekend! Flavor compounds deteriorate over time, but at worst it will only leave your brandy tasting a little dull. We would recommend that you finish a bottle of brandy anywhere from 6 months to a year after it has been opened.
How Do I Make Brandy Last Longer?
The only trick we have for keeping brandy longer than normal only works for opened bottles. The trick is simple, but it works. When the bottle is less than half full, don’t just put it back into the cabinet. Instead, transfer the contents into a smaller bottle. Doing this will reduce the contact that air has with the alcohol, keeping it from oxidizing prematurely.
Signs That Your Brandy May Have Gone Bad
As we have mentioned, brandy doesn’t really go bad, as such. It is much more likely that your brandy will just begin to age and to fade away. So, really the only test is to simply trust your sense. When you open the bottle, have a good sniff. If everything seems pretty normal, pour a small bit out into a glass. At this point, if you notice any solids in the brandy, throw it out. This will generally mean that something has gotten into the bottle while it was open. If the coast is clear, have a tiny sip. If it is flat-tasting, or in any way unenjoyable, it is probably best to throw it out.
Some recommend using flat brandy for cocktails, but it is much better to just replace it. Possibly the only good use for flat brandy we can think of is for cooking. If you are a culinary whizz, it can be handy to have around for the occasional coq au vin. So, that’s all we have for brandy storage. We hope that you found this piece in some way useful and informative.