Skip to Content

How Long Rum Lasts (Does It Go Bad?)

Rum is one of the staple drinks in just about any liquor cabinet. If you buy the “good stuff,” it is easy to let the years slip away and wonder if it has gone bad. So, if you happen to find a really old bottle of rum, would it be safe to drink? How long does it really last?

An unopened bottle of rum, if stored away from heat and light, will last indefinitely. Unlike wine, spirits do not age or change over time. If you correctly store an unopened bottle of rum, it should taste the same as the day it left the distillery.

Do you remember Captain Jack Sparrow finds the rum cache on that small deserted island? The bottles were drinkable because someone buried them in the cool sand, away from the blazing Caribbean sun. Please read on to find out the details of why this is the case.

How Long Does Rum Last Unopened?

In all seriousness, opened or unopened, rum should last indefinitely. The best tips to remember are to store the bottle away from direct sunlight or heat and in a cool, dry space. Unlike wine, spirits do not ‘age’ or alter as time passes.

Today’s manufacturers recommend drinking a bottle of rum within six months of opening. However, the manufacturers surely want you to purchase more rum. So, take that as a target, rather than a hard and fast deadline.

Is there a difference between dark, gold, or light rum? In terms of storage, no. The differences lie in the initial aging process but treat all rum the same once it’s in your home.

Related Do Liquors or Liqueurs Need to Be Refrigerated?

How Long Does Rum Last in a Decanter or Flask?

Liquor decanters are that little luxury that gives your bar a sophisticated appearance. A crystal-clear decanter also shows off dark rum to the best advantage. With an air-tight seal, the decanter is an excellent container for rum. However, most decanters have a looser seal for the glass stopper, which will lead to oxidation. The thing to look for is to get a geometric stopper, this seems to be the key to keeping the decanter airtight. Here is a really good decanter found on Amazon.

Rum in a flask is great, but it has the same dangers as rum in a glass bottle. You still need to keep the flask in a cool, dark space. Whether that’s inside your coat pocket or on your back hip, a tight seal is essential. Ideally, any rum you put in a flask is expected to be gone within a day. So drink up!

Does Rum Go Bad in a Plastic Bottle?

In general, spirits should not be kept in plastic bottles. The chemistry of alcohol reacts negatively with the plastic compounds. Think of alcohol as a solvent, and you get the point. If you plan to put your rum in a plastic decanter, make sure the plastic is rated for alcohol storage. This is an occasion where it doesn’t pay to go cheap. Even then, only keep it in the container for a few days to a week, at most.

How Long Does Rum Last at Room Temperature?

If you’re in cooler climes and can store rum at 60-65, then room temperature is fine. However, it’s best to be on the safe side and keep your bottle on the bar shelf or even in the cellar.

How Long Will Rum Last in the Refrigerator?

Storing your opened bottle of rum in the refrigerator doesn’t seem to help one way or another. If you prefer your rum served cold over ice, then refrigerate. The point about air still comes into play-make sure the bottle is tightly closed. Don’t refrigerate with a pourer instead of a proper cap.

Does Rum Go Bad?

Liquors are not like wine. They do their aging in the barrel. After they are bottled, they don’t get any better.

While hard liquor is more durable, some rum can go bad. Test your stored rum using three factors: exposure to air, light, and temperature.

  • Air leads to oxidation and a reduction of a spirit’s taste. The more air is in the bottle, the more oxidation. Oxidation changes the taste and adds a slight ‘vanilla’ note. Keep your bottle tightly closed when not in use.
  • Studies show direct daylight reduces the color of a dark rum by 10 to 40 percent. That beautiful caramel color of a dark or gold rum can be muddied after prolonged exposure. A bottle left in direct light will turn color.
  • A concern for temperature led to continuing research by manufacturers to serve a quality product best. That’s why you have seen changes in the containers from clear glass to darker glass and opaque sleeves. The aim is to keep the product at an optimum temperature.

How to Tell If Rum Has Gone Bad

The best way to tell if your rum is bad is to look, smell, or taste. If the rum looks off-color, smells weird, or tastes bad, it’s time to consign it to Davy Jones’ Locker.

  1. Sight- Impurities are noticeable in the bottle. Dark and gold rums get murky.
  2. Smell- Unless you’re a rum connoisseur, this sense test is a little harder than the other two. A true rum aficionado will tell if the rum smells less than desirable compared to a high-quality spirit.
  3. Taste- As a process of oxidation, the rum will taste a little more acidic or tart.

How to Properly Store Rum


Store rum in a cool place, away from direct light, and consume within 2-3 years. Store opened rum in a darker glass container than the original bottle, if needed, which will assist the resistance to light. Once your bottle is reduced to half, consider transferring to a smaller bottle to lessen the amount of air.

A tightly sealed cap is better than a cork. A traditional cork will allow for some air movement and could lead to cork taint. Unlike wine, this air movement is not ideal. Some manufacturers add a protective wax seal to their corks or use synthetic corks. I recommend just using a dedicated decanter, like the one I mentioned earlier.

Just don’t store your rum with a pourer still attached. Remember that air is your enemy, and the pourer will lead to quicker evaporation and a milder rum taste.

Does Rum Evaporate?

Alcohol evaporates faster than water. So, like all pure alcohol, rum will eventually evaporate once you open the bottle. Even unopened, the bottle will lose a bit of volume.

Final Thoughts

I found out anecdotally that some rum connoisseurs believe that it’s best to leave an unopened bottle sitting for years on purpose so that this minuscule evaporation, known as the ‘angel’s share,’ will deepen the taste. I am not sure if this is actually true or not, but it would be a fun experiment to do if you have the patience. However, if you can’t stand to see the bottle sitting that long…drink up, me hearties! Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Thanks for stopping in.