How long does flavored vodka stay good for?

Quick Answers

Flavored vodka that has been properly stored can maintain quality and taste for around 2 years after the bottle has been opened. An unopened bottle can last much longer – usually at least 5 years, and often longer if stored properly.

Does Flavored Vodka Go Bad?

Yes, flavored vodka can eventually go bad, but it takes a very long time. Since vodka is a distilled spirit, it has a high alcohol content, typically around 40% ABV. The alcohol acts as a preservative to prevent microbial growth and slow oxidation reactions. This allows flavored vodka to last for many years even after opening. However, it will gradually deteriorate in quality over time.

The main things that can cause flavored vodka to go bad are exposure to oxygen, light, and heat. Oxygen causes oxidation reactions that break down the vodka’s flavor compounds and make it taste stale. Light, especially direct sunlight, can accelerate these reactions. Heat can also speed up oxidation and evaporate some of the vodka, concentrating the flavors and alcohol in an undesirable way.

As long as you store an opened bottle properly by limiting air exposure, keeping it away from heat and light, and maintaining a cool temperature, the deterioration process will be very slow. But eventually the quality will decline.

Signs that Flavored Vodka Has Gone Bad

Here are some signs that indicate your flavored vodka may have spoiled:

  • Changes in color – The vodka may darken or take on a brownish hue.
  • Cloudiness – The vodka will appear hazy or opaque instead of clear.
  • Off smells – An old, stale, or rotten aroma instead of a smooth spirit smell.
  • Off tastes – The flavor will seem dull, muted, or have chemical/astringent notes.
  • Evaporation – If the vodka level in the bottle has dropped more than an inch or two, oxidation has occurred.

If you notice any of these changes in your flavored vodka, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard it. While it may not make you sick, the quality has degraded to the point that it won’t taste good.

How to Store Flavored Vodka Properly

Here are some tips for maximizing the shelf life of your flavored vodka:

  • Keep it sealed – Store the vodka in its original bottle with the cap tightly closed to limit oxygen exposure.
  • Cool and dark place – Keep it somewhere dark like a pantry or liquor cabinet away from heat and light.
  • No partially used bottles – Try to avoid partially used bottles, which expose more vodka to air. Transfer to a smaller bottle.
  • Use pure vodka – Hangover-free vodka contains added chemical ingredients that may spoil faster.
  • Don’t store on side – Store the bottle upright to prevent the cork from drying out and letting in air.

A vodka bottle that remains factory sealed until you open it will last the longest. But even an opened bottle stored properly can stay fresh for a remarkably long shelf life compared to other spirits and beverages.

How Long Does Unopened Flavored Vodka Last?

An unopened, sealed bottle of flavored vodka has an extremely long shelf life. Exact timelines vary, but generally you can expect an unopened flavored vodka bottle to last:

  • 5+ years past the printed expiration date, often much longer
  • 10-20+ years total from the production date if expiration isn’t printed
  • Indefinitely – some vodkas decades old still retain quality when stored optimally

The expiration date printed on the bottle is simply the manufacturer’s conservative estimate of when optimal quality may start declining. But the vodka is still safe and drinkable long after that date, provided it has been stored properly.

One study by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States opened decades-old vodka bottles that continued to be perfectly palatable, including a bottle from the 1930s. While very old vodka won’t necessarily taste fresh, it primarily loses quality from an aroma/flavor standpoint instead of safety concerns.

Why Unopened Vodka Lasts so Long

There are a few reasons why properly stored unopened vodka lasts essentially forever:

  • No oxygen exposure – The airtight seal prevents oxidation.
  • High alcohol concentration – Alcohol prevents microbial growth.
  • No light exposure – Dark glass blocks light that degrades flavors.
  • Stable ingredients – Vodka’s simple ingredient list doesn’t spoil easily.

As long as the bottle remains factory sealed, the vodka flavor stays locked in without deteriorating. So decade-old vodkas essentially taste the same as newly manufactured ones.

How Long Does Opened Flavored Vodka Last?

Once you open the bottle and expose the flavored vodka to air, its shelf life decreases significantly. But it still lasts surprisingly long – generally 1-2 years or more after opening.

For best quality, try to polish off an opened flavored vodka bottle within these timelines:

  • 6-8 months – Optimal quality retention
  • 1-2 years – Acceptable quality if stored properly
  • 2+ years – Possible but not recommended unless stored optimally

The vodka won’t instantly go bad once you open it, but its quality slowly declines as oxidation occurs. Try to use up opened bottles sooner rather than later for maximum freshness and flavor.

Factors that Shorten Opened Bottle Shelf Life

Here are some factors that can accelerate the decline of opened flavored vodka:

  • Frequent opening exposes vodka to more air each time.
  • Partially filled bottles have more oxygen exposure.
  • Cork-stoppered bottles can dry out and let air in if stored horizontally.
  • Heat and light degrade vodka faster once opened.
  • Copper or steel tanks during production can react and degrade vodka over time.
  • Common plastic bottle materials like PET slowly degrade vodka flavor.

Premium vodkas tend to last longer after opening because they use glass bottles, avoid metals in production, and often use higher quality cork stoppers that preserve the vodka better.

Does Flavored Vodka Go Bad in the Freezer?

Storing flavored vodka in the freezer will not make it go bad. Since vodka freezes at around -16°F (-27°C), a standard freezer that maintains 0°F (-18°C) temperatures won’t actually freeze vodka solid. And even frozen, vodka would remain safe and intact for long periods.

The main impact of freezer storage is that very cold temperatures can mute more nuanced flavors. The high proof alcohol itself has a stronger taste that can overpower fruits, spices, or other subtle flavors as it gets colder. So freezer storage is fine for preservation, but you may want to avoid iciness when drinking flavored vodka to better detect the flavors.

Does Flavored Vodka Go Bad After Opening?

Yes, opened flavored vodka will slowly deteriorate after exposure to oxygen but can still last 1-2 years or more. Storage conditions significantly impact shelf life after opening. Keep the bottle full, tightly sealed, out of light and avoid temperature extremes for best quality retention.

Signs Your Opened Flavored Vodka Has Gone Bad

Watch for these red flags that opened vodka may be over the hill:

  • Faded or dull aromas instead of vibrant, balanced smells
  • Flat or off tastes instead of smooth, quality flavors
  • Discoloration – Overall darkening or spotty color changes
  • Cloudiness in clear vodka indicates contamination
  • Low fill level – more than an inch or two below bottle shoulder exposes more vodka to air

An opened bottle with any of these issues should be discarded, especially if the vodka smells or tastes unpleasant. While drinking spoiled vodka isn’t necessarily hazardous if alcohol remains, the quality is diminished to an unacceptable level.

Tips for Maximizing Opened Vodka Shelf Life

Here are some tips for getting the most shelf life out of your opened flavored vodka:

  • Transfer to a smaller bottle to minimize air exposure as you use the vodka.
  • Always re-seal the bottle tightly after pouring.
  • Try to keep the bottle at least 2/3 full as you use it.
  • Store away from heat, moisture and light to slow oxidation.
  • Consider corked bottles – they seal better than screw caps or plastic.
  • Don’t let vodka freeze – it can fracture corks and damage bottles.

With optimal storage conditions, an opened bottle can retain excellent quality for 6-8 months and remain acceptable for 1-2 years. Follow these best practices for maximizing flavored vodka’s shelf life after opening.

How To Tell If Flavored Vodka Has Expired?

You can test if flavored vodka has expired or gone bad by examining its appearance, aroma and flavor:


  • Discoloration – should be crystal clear, look out for darkening, yellowing or cloudiness
  • Sediment – particles settling at the bottom indicate contamination
  • Evaporation – check vodka level, more than 1-2 inches lower could mean oxidation


  • Flat, dull smell instead of vibrant aromas
  • Unpleasant medicinal, chemical or rotten smells
  • Loss of fruity, spicy, sweet or other flavors


  • Harsh, astringent chemical taste
  • Soapy, bitter tastes
  • Weak, watery flavors instead of smooth distilled spirit taste
  • Stale, cardboard flavors due to oxidation

Any changes like these are red flags that the flavored vodka has expired and should be discarded. Trust your senses – if it seems off, don’t drink it.

Can You Drink Vodka Past Its Expiration Date?

You technically can drink vodka past its printed expiration date, but it’s not advisable for the best quality and flavor. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Vodka doesn’t suddenly become toxic or dangerous immediately after its expiration date.
  • Unopened vodka lasts many years past expiration if stored properly.
  • Opened vodka degrades much faster – within 6-12 months is best for quality.
  • Vodka more than 1-2 years past expiration, opened or unopened, may have an stale flavor.
  • Very old vodka loses aromatic qualities but is still safe to consume if it has alcohol.

So you can technically drink vodka after expiration, but it likely won’t taste very fresh or pleasant. For the best experience, stick closely to expiration dates, especially on opened bottles.

Does Flavored Vodka Need to Be Refrigerated After Opening?

Refrigerating flavored vodka after opening can help extend its shelf life, but is not strictly required. Here are some guidelines for refrigeration:

  • Refrigeration is most beneficial for infrequently used bottles.
  • Vodka stored at room temperature should be used within 3-4 months.
  • Refrigerated vodka lasts 6-8 months before noticeable flavor decline.
  • The freezer extends shelf life further but may mute more delicate flavors.
  • Make sure vodka doesn’t freeze solid, which can damage the bottle.

So while refrigeration can prolong freshness and shelf life a bit longer, especially for infrequent use, it’s not essential. Properly stored vodka at room temperature still lasts many months after opening.

Does Flavored Vodka Go Bad Once Mixed in a Cocktail?

Mixing flavored vodka into cocktails introduces new factors that affect shelf life compared to pure vodka alone:

  • Added ingredients like juice, soda or other mixers can spoil faster than vodka.
  • The alcohol content is lower in a mixed drink, so less preservative ability.
  • Light, heat and air accelerate spoilage once mixed and poured.
  • Bacteria and mold can grow more readily in a prepared cocktail.

For best safety and quality, flavored vodka cocktails are optimally consumed freshly prepared. Leaving mixed drinks out at room temperature for more than an hour is not recommended.

In the refrigerator, mixed vodka drinks may last 1-2 days before significant flavor decline. But consuming soon after preparing is ideal, and discard if any off odors or appearance develop.


When properly stored, flavored vodka has an impressively long shelf life. Unopened it lasts for many years, often decades. Once opened, it maintains acceptable quality for 1-2 years. Refrigeration can extend opened bottle lifespan a bit longer. But eventually all vodka will decline in aroma and flavor with time. Follow these storage tips to maximize shelf life both before and after opening.

Leave a Comment