Does Moonshine Go Bad? What You Need to Know

by Dane Wilson | Last Updated: December 22, 2022

Hey there! This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.

Did you finally pull that gifted homemade moonshine from last year out from the back of the refrigerator? You may be wondering, “Does moonshine go bad? Is this fit to drink?” Plain spirits, like whiskey, cannot go bad, but there are some things to consider. Today, you are going to learn about the shelf life of moonshine and whether or not you should drink that moonshine from several years ago.

Table of Contents

does moonshine go bad

Does Moonshine Go Bad?

Most of the time, you should not worry about moonshine going bad, because most moonshine recipes have a long shelf life. Due to the high amount of alcohol in moonshine, it will not go bad if it remains unopened. After all, alcohol is a preservative. Furthermore, moonshine is generally heavily distilled. After the distillation process, moonshine contains zero sugar, which is usually the culprit when things go bad.

However, you must remember that not all moonshine is made the right way or with the best ingredients. A commercially crafted moonshine with added flavors will have sugars that shorten the shelf life. While this moonshine can last several years when unopened, it is not an indefinite amount of time.

How Do You Know if Moonshine is Bad?

The quickest way to tell if your moonshine has gone bad is if the container is opened or if there is a foul taste or both.

Opened Container

Alcohol of any kind will age when it has time to oxidize. Any can of moonshine that is opened should be poured down the drain without any reservations. Moonshine may not oxidize like beer, but contact with air will ruin the flavors.

It is not harmful to drink, though.

Foul Taste

Worried that your moonshine has spoiled? If the container is unopened, then you should take a taste test. A disgusting flavor means that the moonshine has spoiled. That said, you could still consume the alcohol—it just won’t be a fun experience.

Is There Such a Thing as Bad Moonshine?

Yes, there is such a thing as bad moonshine. This is not referring to moonshine that has “gone bad” but rather a poorly made batch. Improperly distilled moonshine is dangerous. You may have heard of moonshiners going blind over time. That condition is caused by the consumption of methanol, not ethanol.

Methanol is dangerous. It contains a single atom of carbon and may be fatal, even with the smallest of doses. Methanol may cause damage to the optic nerve, resulting in permanent blindness. This can even happen by merely being exposed to methanol.

Make sure you are getting your moonshine from a respectable distiller—someone with experience and their eyesight! You do not want to consume bad drink.

How to Conduct a Spoon Test

Worried that your bottle of moonshine may be bad? Then you should conduct a spoon test. This method has been around for a long time. All you need to do is pour a little moonshine onto a spoon then light the alcohol on fire.

If the flame is blue, then your moonshine contains ethanol. Any hint of red or yellow means that your moonshine is contaminated and should not be consumed.

You can also use the methods suggested in the video below:

Does Fruity Moonshine Go Bad?

Don’t you love a good apple pie moonshine? Unfortunately, that apple pie is not going to last forever. Pure moonshines will not go bad when properly stored, but those with even a small concentration of fruit flavors will start to degrade. As mentioned earlier, the issue is the sugar from the fruit accelerating spoilage.  

Does Moonshine Go Bad When Not Refrigerated?

No, moonshine does not go bad if it remains at room temperature or even in heat. There are certainly benefits to placing a batch of it in the refrigerator. For one, you can keep the moonshine away from sunlight exposure and heat. Of course, this is only applicable to pure moonshine, not ones with flavorings and sugar.

Putting your flavored moonshine in the refrigerator is a great practice, because it protects your alcohol from oxidation. The sugars in the alcohol will not spoil as quickly. Also, any opened moonshine should go into the refrigerator to stay fresh. Doing so will extend the shelf life for years, even if the can or bottle has been unsealed.

Should you opt to keep your moonshine at room temperature, you do not have to worry much about pure alcohol going bad. There is nothing in the mixture to promote bacterial growth. Again, the intense distillation process rids the moonshine of that. It does not get ruined at room temperature or even in the heat, but heat and sunlight may alter the flavors.

The only issue here is that heat loosens the molecules in the spirit, causing it to undergo changes that may dilute or cause the flavor to taste different. If you want a specific flavor, keep your moonshine in a cool, dark location.

Does Moonshine Go Bad in the Freezer?

It is one thing to worry that your moonshine will spoil if it gets too warm, but what about leaving it in the freezer?

Well, the good news is that you never have to worry about ice forming in your moonshine, because it does not freeze easily. Moonshine averages around 40% ABV (80 proof), meaning that your freezer would have to reach temperatures of -235 degrees F (-113 degrees C) for your moonshine to get frosty.

Any water in the moonshine may freeze, but that would only make the remaining alcohol even stronger.

How to Properly Store Moonshine

Learning how to properly store moonshine is essential in keeping it flavorful for many years. If you plan on making your own moonshine, then it is recommended that it goes in a glass jars. Plastic bottles are not ideal, because flavor changes occur from leeching. Heat-resistant glass is ideal. It’s safer and even protects the alcohol from evaporation and oxidation.

Have leftover moonshine from a celebration? Do not keep it in the large bottle that it came in. Keep your leftover moonshine fresher by decreasing the air to liquid ratio. In other words, put it in a smaller container. Decanters are not recommended.

Next, keep your moonshine in the dark. Moonshine and sunshine do not mix. A cool, dark, and dry place, like a wine cellar, is perfect. Refrigeration is preferred for moonshines made with fruits and flavorings. Wherever you decide to put it, make sure the moonshine is stored upright. Like beer, you want to keep any oxygen in the bottle away from the liquid. By storing the bottle upright, you limit how much liquid touches the air inside or the cork.

Speaking of corks, if you are using one to seal the moonshine bottle, make sure it doesn’t dry out. A cracked cork will crumble into your moonshine the very moment you go to open the bottle. Once in a while, flip the bottle of ‘shine upside down, letting the cork briefly touch the liquid.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly Side of Moonshine

Does moonshine go bad? It does, but not in the same way food or milk goes bad. The amount of alcohol in moonshine gives it a lengthy shelf life, much like whiskey. However, moonshine flavors may go flat or off, especially if the moonshine contains sugars. Furthermore, proper distillation and storage is required if you want to keep your moonshine around for longer and enjoy a long drink in the future.


How long can moonshine last?

Moonshine, when unopened and stored correctly, will last several years. The shelf life is indefinite. Unflavored moonshine will last much longer than those with sugars, but even those can last many years even when opened.

How do you know when moonshine goes bad?

Moonshine does not technically go bad. You can still drink it. However, the flavor of spoiled moonshine will be off-putting.

Can I drink 2 year old moonshine?

When moonshine is distilled without any sugar, it will never go bad. Therefore, you can drink 2 year old moonshine that does not contain any sugar. Flavored moonshine with sugars will have a shorter shelf life, though even that is several years long.

What happens if you drink bad moonshine?

Moonshine does not spoil, and so it is not harmful. However, if “bad moonshine” refers to improperly distilled moonshine, then you should not drink it at all. Poorly distilled moonshine is bad because it contains methanol, a substance that causes sickness or death when consumed.