Bailey’s Irish Cream has been my favorite alcoholic beverage for the past decade or so. It’s also the world’s most popular liqueur. Consumers enjoy it both as a mixer or sipped alone. If it’s been sitting on the shelf or in the fridge for a while, you may be wondering how long it will last.
Baileys will last 2 years past its manufacture date. You will find that target date on the label of every bottle. Whether stored in the pantry or the fridge, liqueurs like Baileys are best consumed within 6 months after opening.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the shelf life of baileys and other similar liqueurs.
How Long Does Baileys Last Unopened?
Every bottle of Baileys Irish Cream includes a “best before end date” in the lower-left corner of the label. The date includes the month and year, set 2 years after manufacture. Although the information is no longer available on the Baileys.com website, various sources cite a guarantee of 2 years for ideal use.
Unopened bottles live fine in your pantry or on the bar shelf. After all, they started life sitting on the grocery or liquor store shelf.
How Long Does Baileys Last After You Open It?
British-based conglomerate Diageo, the world’s 2nd largest distiller, manufactures Baileys. For ingredients, they make the Irish Cream liqueur with Irish Whiskey, cocoa, sugar, and cream. Like other cream liqueurs, the clock starts ticking once you open the bottle.
After you open the bottle, it’s best to add only six months to the ‘best before end’ for a total shelf-life of approximately 30 months. It’s recommended to drink as soon as possible because taste and texture will alter over time. Open bottles are best refrigerated.
How Long Does Baileys Last out of the Fridge?
Since Baileys contains alcohol, you might think it’s fine in your food pantry or on the bar shelf. You’re right. While Baileys is 50% dairy cream, its other principal ingredient is triple-distilled Irish Whiskey. You can keep an open bottle of Baileys for up to 30 months in a cool, dark place. The key is to keep Baileys out of direct sunlight and away from heat.
How Long Will Baileys Last in the Fridge?
Since Baileys contains dairy, you might think it goes in the fridge. Once again, you’re right. Whether in the fridge or out of it, Baileys is good for up to 30 months. However, as an Irish Cream, Baileys is best served chilled over ice. Remember to use the calculation of 2 years plus six months to figure the longest you can keep a bottle in the fridge. If you’re like me, your Baileys will never last that long.
Unlike vodka or gin, Baileys will not do well in the freezer. The milk parts freeze and make pouring difficult. Further, a freeze-and-thaw cycle will crystalize the milk and lead your Bailey’s going bad earlier than necessary.
Does Baileys Go Bad?
You should always check the ‘best before end’ date on the bottle. Like other products made with milk, Baileys can go bad. Whether on the shelf, fridge, or even a root cellar exposure to oxygen is the culprit. This is another reason the refrigerator is a better alternative to the bar shelf.
Diageo uses a Stelvin cap, a screw cap that is more often seen on wine bottles. This cap ensures a tight seal, so be sure you screw the cap on properly after each use. Don’t mix your drink and leave the open bottle on the bar. Or, you can use a bottle stopper, like this one, if your cap has been compromised.
It should go without saying, but don’t let a guest chug your Baileys directly from the bottle. Enzymes in human saliva will react badly with the Irish cream liqueur, causing it to curdle.
For the more adventurous, there is one drink recipe, the Cement Mixer, that calls for Baileys to be mixed with lime or lemon juice. The acid in the juice causes the liqueur to curdle, but that is the expected outcome. Personally, I’d rather add coffee, chocolate, or a little flavored vodka to make a more refreshing drink.
How to Tell If Baileys Has Gone Bad
Here are four ways to tell if your Baileys has gone bad.
- Smell- The smell is off. First, trust your nose. If the liqueur smells a bit off, it probably it.
- Taste- The taste is terrible. If you’re a little braver, try a small taste test. You’ll know right away if the liqueur is okay to drink.
- Color- The color is wrong. Baileys typically has an opaque, beige color. If you pour out a bit and it separates or looks darker than it should, it may have gone bad. It’s easy to see when the emulsion between the whiskey and the cream breaks down.
- Texture- The texture is lumpy. With milk as a primary ingredient, the cream parts will curdle if aged or exposed to heat. If the liqueur looks like cottage cheese, it’s best not to drink it.
One cool trick is to add a splash of Bailey’s to hot coffee. If the liqueur reacts like it should, with a smooth swirl, then it’s okay. If it immediately curdles, it’s best to pour that bottle down the drain.
Can You Drink Baileys After Expiration Date?
Your favorite Aunt Mary gives you a bottle of Baileys as a birthday gift. You check the ‘best before end’ date, and it was seven months ago. Do you have to chuck the bottle? Not so fast. You may still be in luck.
Before you throw away the bottle, use the checklist above to see if the bottle’s gone over. If it smells, tastes, and looks okay, cheers to you! To be on the safe side, why not share that bottle around the party and enjoy it to the last drop?
How to Properly Store Baileys
As noted, you can store Baileys toward the back of the bar shelf or in the fridge. Whichever storage method you choose, aim for a surface temperature range between 0-24 Centigrade or 32-77 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes sense, as alcohol is the sole natural preservative.
Does Baileys Evaporate?
Alcohol might evaporate in the barrel, but that’s because the barrel is not airtight. As with any pure alcohol product, Baileys will not evaporate if you keep the bottled closed. Further, because Baileys is 50% cream and cream doesn’t evaporate (or will go bad before it does), you don’t have to worry.
Bailey’s and other liqueurs are one of the most versatile and popular drinks in the world. While the bottle is unlikely to last more than a few weeks, it’s easy to get sidetracked and forget we had it stored away. The good news is, that the stuff will be good at least 2 years. And, if it’s a bit older, you now have the tools to “test” it to see if it is still good.
Thanks for stopping by and enjoy!