Will It Drink?

Evan asks: I just found a bottle of Southern Comfort that looks like it’s about as old as I am. Is it safe to drink?

Here are some general rules for the drinking of long-forgotten besotters:

-If the bottle is unopened, and the proof is 40 or more, it is
perfectly safe to drink. This regardless of its age. It will not
improve with the passage of years, but should not disimprove. (Color
fading is probably the only noticeable change).

-If the bottle is unopened, but is not labeled as to its proof, then
it is so old that it probably predates the burning of the Reichstag.
Back In The Day, standards as to distillation were markedly inferior
to the current. This particularly with cheap spirits, such as
absinthe. Old-style absinthe is no less safe to drink *now* than
*then* – but due to its tendency to contain marked quantities of heavy
metals (antimony being a favorite, followed by mercury and death), it
was not terribly safe to drink *then*. Therefore, if you find an
unopened bottle which you suspect to be older than your parents,
drinking it is very much a risk.

-If the bottle has been opened but not resealed, then the bottle will
lose approximately 1% of its ABV every 24 hours (this is of course an
approximation based upon a fantastic number of variables – but it’s a
good rule of thumb). After 50 days, the booze in question will not
have enough alcohol left within it to guarantee its abiltiy

-If the bottle contains any organic additives – milk, particularly,
such as Irish Cream – then in general I don’t recommend drinking it
under the best of circumstances. I strongly recommend not
drinking it after it has been opened, and unrefrigerated, more than a
month. If it has been left uncapped, then the threshold falls to a
week. Yes, Baily’s is basically just curdled cream. But I promise you,
it can curdle *more*.

-If the bottle has been opened but properly resealed – and it was
distilled spirits to begin with, 80 proof or more – there should be no
difficulty. The only trouble is evaporation. If, say, ten years have
passed, then the evaporation seepage around the cork or cap might be
significant enough to reduce the ABV. If the ABV goes down enough, it
may not be enough to inhibit bacterial or fungal growth. However,
there is an excellent scientific assay which one can perform to
determine whether or not the danger level has passed: take a shot. If
it tastes like booze, drink it. If it doesn’t, spit it out, rinse your
mouth, and go find some real booze to drink.

Thus we are left with what I shall heretofore refer to as Daxel’s Law:
IF IT TASTES GOOD, DRINK IT.

You know. For science.

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~ by davekov on 15 April 2013.

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