Rum Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

When you are cleaning out the kitchen cabinet or pantry, chances are you will find random old stuff. Something you forget you ever had, tucked away behind various other stuff.

If one time you find an old bottle of rum that’s been years sitting there, you might still be tempted to make a glass of mojito or a cup of coffee with rum. But, you might also be doubting if the old rum is still fine to drink? Does rum go bad?

In short, yes, rum can go bad. But, it is extremely rare to happen. Likewise for other hard liquors, rum also has a very long and stable shelf life, or we can confidently say indefinitely.

Rum is likely to be safe for consumption for years to come. However, it is worthy to note that it is always best to enjoy during its prime condition. When you drink it in months or even years, the taste and flavor will never be the same as when it’s opened for the first time.

If you are curious to find out more interesting facts and useful information about rum’s shelf life; how to store rum properly, how long rum lasts, and most importantly how to tell if rum has gone bad, let’s read along!

How to Store Rum

Rum is a liquor (or hard liquor) made from distilling fermented sugarcane molasses or juices. It is primarily sourced from the Caribbean and Latin America. These distilled spirits contain 40% – 74% alcohol by volume, making it one of the strongest alcoholic beverages in the world.

The proper storage method for rum is similar to other liquors, such as tequila, whiskey, and vodka. Liquors – including rum – should be stored in a dry, dark, cool place, away from sources of direct sunlight and heat.

The best option is, of course, a cellar, if you have one. If not, your kitchen pantry or cabinet is also ideal for liquor storage.

When it comes to an opened bottle, always make sure the bottle is tightly closed. This simple step is crucial (but often neglected) to prevent oxidation and evaporation, and to avoid any contaminants from entering the bottle. Although the environment is not favorable for bacterial growth, you still don’t want to drink something with unknown impurities, do you?

Keep the bottle in an upright standing position. Unlike wine which you often see being stored horizontally on a rack, a bottle of rum (and other liquors) should be kept vertically. This is to prevent the liquid from touching the cap which may cause corrosion and subsequently affect the flavor and quality.

If you are left with a small amount of rum in the bottle and you don’t plan to empty the bottle anytime soon, it is suggested to transfer the rum into a smaller bottle. More air will speed up the oxidation and evaporation process which deteriorates the taste.

How Long Does Rum Last?

Alcoholic drinks have a different shelf life because they are made with different ingredients and processes. Distilled spirits and liquors – including rum – have the longest and most stable shelf life.

Liquors should not be mistaken with liqueur – sweetened and flavored liquor. An example of liqueurs is Baileys Irish Cream. Cream liqueurs such as Baileys has a shorter life of only 2 years due to the dairy content.

With proper storage, an unopened bottle of rum will last for years, even decades. If you happen to find a very old, unopened bottle rum in the cellar or cabinet, feel free to drink. Make sure that the bottle is still perfectly sealed and no signs of impurities or spoilage are observed.

An opened bottle of rum will stay at its peak quality for several months after opening up to 6 – 8 months. Rum is best consumed within this period when it is still in prime condition. After a while, you may expect to notice a change in the taste and flavor.

How to Tell if Rum is Bad

So, does rum go bad? As mentioned above, rum has an indefinite and stable shelf life. If you have an old bottle of rum sitting in your cabinet, it is still likely safe to drink.

Although very rare to happen, it is still possible for rum to go bad, particularly with improper storage. In some cases, you may need to discard your rum for quality reasons.

To check signs of spoilage, it is always useful to use your senses. Check the look, smell, and taste.

Take a close look into the bottle. See if you spot any contaminants or impurities, especially if you leave your bottle open for a while.

If the rum still looks perfectly fine, try to smell. If there is no foul smell, drink a tiny amount to taste.

If you think the taste has no change or is acceptable, feel free to drink. But, if the taste is fine, but not very great, maybe try to use it for a mojito or your favorite cocktails.

However, if the taste is completely unacceptable or you find other signs of spoilage, it may be best to throw it away.


Does Coconut Rum go bad?

Technically, coconut rum (with Malibu being the most popular brand) is a liqueur instead of liquor. It is made of rum flavored with coconut extract and contains 21% ABV.

Malibu Coconut Rum has a one-year shelf life after opening. After this period, you may expect changes in flavor and taste.

Is rum gluten-free?

The majority of pure rum is gluten-free. Rum is made of sugarcane molasses or juices with no wheat or other grains. However, if you buy flavored rum (liqueur) you may need to check the ingredients list.

How many calories are in rum?

According to the USDA Database, one jigger of rum (equal to 1.5 fl oz or ± 44 mL) with 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof) contains 97 calories.


Rum – just like any other hard liquor – has the most stable and longest shelf life. It can easily last for many, many years, even decades with proper storage. In other words, rum does not expire.

With proper care, it won’t go bad to the point that it harms your health, but you may expect a change in flavor or taste after a while since opening the bottle. Rum can go bad in terms of quality

You may still want to discard it if the taste is not pleasant. Therefore, it is best to drink rum during its prime quality.

rum shelf life

*Featured Photo by SOLOTU/depositphotos

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