Does Crown Royal Go Bad? Yes. But Here’s How to Stop It

If you like Crown Royal, you’ll probably have several of their whiskies in your home bar (or as in my case – the bookshelf I call my bar), and even more unopened ones stored away ready to replace them as soon as they’re finished. That’s why it’s important to know how long Crown Royal Whiskies last before going bad.

Crown Royal whisky does not go bad if stored properly. However, it will go bad if it’s exposed to direct light or direct sunlight for a month or two, it will evaporate if left for a long time in the heat, and its flavors will change between six months to two years after opening.

In the rest of this article, I’ll explain why Crown Royal whisky doesn’t go bad under normal circumstances and go into more detail about those things that can make Crown Royal whisky go bad and what you can do to stop it.

Man unsure about the bottle of Crown Royal whiskey he's holding

Why Crown Royal Whisky Shouldn’t Go Bad

There are two reasons why, under normal circumstances, Crown Royal whisky doesn’t go bad. The first is because it only ages in casks and the second is because it contains a high level of alcohol.

Because It Only Ages in Casks

Since Crown Royal whisky only ages in casks, it won’t continue to age in the bottle until it deteriorates and goes bad. Crown Royal is placed into casks to mature where it picks up flavors from the wood of the barrel it’s being aged in, and the longer it’s aged the more flavors it picks up.

However, once it’s no longer in the barrel it can’t continue to pick up flavors and age. Since it doesn’t have access to its source of flavors it can’t change, and if it can’t change, it can’t deteriorate and go bad.

Because It Contains a High Level of Alcohol

The second reason Crown Royal whisky doesn’t go bad is because of its high level of alcohol – 40%ABV, which helps to preserve it. The high level of alcohol freezes (not literally obviously) the whisky’s esters, congeners and volatile alcohols that are responsible for much of its taste, putting them in a type of suspended animation, so they can’t go bad.

Crown Royal’s high alcohol content level also makes it an inhospitable environment for the bacteria responsible for food deteriorating, so it’s no wonder then that it’s nearly impossible for it to go bad.

3 Things That Do Make Crown Royal Whisky Go Bad

Man pouring out a bottle of Crown Royal whiskey

Even though as explained, Crown Royal is pretty difficult to damage, it is possible for it to go bad under the following three circumstances. Exposure to direct light or sunlight, evaporation, and exposure to oxygen.

1. Exposure To Direct Light or Sunlight

Crown Royal placed in direct light or worse, direct sunlight will go bad within one or two months.

That’s because the direct light or sunlight creates a chemical reaction in the volatile compounds of the whisky which causes them to break down, and the flavor to degrade. Your Crown Royal will taste much harsher, possibly even of rubber, paint thinner or rotten fruit.

2. Evaporation

Crown Royal stored for a very long time in a bottle without an airtight seal will not last indefinitely because some of it will evaporate. How much will evaporate will depend on how airtight the seal of the bottle is, how hot the environment in which you’re storing your bottle is and how long your bottle of Crown Royal is stored under those conditions.

The good news is that evaporation is usually quite slow, so this will only be an issue for those storing their Crown Royal long term. It takes about a decade for evaporation to become noticeable, and 30 – 40 years for it to be significant.

3. Exposure to Oxygen

Crown Royal that’s exposed to oxygen will sooner or later oxidize. That’s when oxygen binds to one chemical compound and turns it into another, and in our case that means binding to one flavor compound and turning it into another. Crown Royal that’s gone bad in this way is not dangerous to drink – it’s still drinkable, but it does mean that it won’t taste the way it’s supposed to.

Oxidation starts as soon as your Crown Royal becomes exposed to air – which is usually when you first open the bottle, but it doesn’t change the flavors of your drink immediately. That takes anywhere from six months to two years depending on the following:

  • Headspace – the empty space in your bottle between the cork or lid and the whisky that’s actually air.
  • Seal of the bottle – whether the seal of your bottle is tight, loose or damaged.
  • Storage environment – whether your bottle is stored in a stable environment or one with fluctuating temperatures.

The common denominator of all three is how much air can get into the bottle. More headspace, a loose or damaged seal and being stored in an environment with fluctuating temperatures all mean more air will get into the bottle and the flavors changing sooner. Less headspace, a tightly sealed lid and being stored in a stable environment all mean less air will get into the bottle and it will take longer for the flavors to change.

So, for example, if there’s an inch or two of headspace in your bottle of Crown Royal, there won’t be much effect on its flavors for at least a year, but if three quarters of the bottle is air, the flavors will change in about a month.

How To Ensure Your Crown Royal Whisky Doesn’t Go Bad

A bottle of Crown Royal whiskey stored in a safe place

To ensure your Crown Royal whisky doesn’t go bad, you need to store it in a way that prevents the above things from damaging it. That means:

  • Away from direct light and direct sunlight
  • In a cool temperature – 15°-20°C or 59°-68°F
  • In a stable environment
  • In a bottle with an airtight seal

I have written a more detailed article about how to store Crown Royal whisky properly, which you can find here.

It’s pretty easy to store your Crown Royal whisky away from direct light and in a cool, stable environment, however, it’s not so easy to store it in a bottle with an airtight seal to prevent oxidation and evaporation. That’s because the seal of unsealed bottles may not be 100% airtight, and opened bottles are not airtight at all and often have plenty of headspace. Fortunately, there is something you can do about this.

For opened bottles of Crown Royal simply keeping the lid on tightly will slow the process of oxidation. Of course, that won’t help once there’s a lot of headspace and you’ll need to transfer your whisky into a smaller bottle to reduce it. You can do this repeatedly each time the headspace becomes too much, but there will come a time when you won’t have a small enough bottle and you’re only solution will be to finish your whisky as soon as possible.

To ensure that no air gets into unsealed bottles of Crown Royal whose seals might not be 100% airtight, you can add an additional seal. This can be an additional cap on top of the lid or cork or by dipping your bottle in wax. However, these methods can damage the bottle and the underlying seal, and so are not the best solutions, especially if the whisky is valuable.

A better solution is to use parafilm. This is a film made from a blend of waxes and polyolefins that’s semi-transparent and flexible. It’s malleable, non-toxic, tasteless, odorless, and self-sealing. You can wrap it around the lid making it airtight and it won’t harm the underlying seal. The only downside is that after some time it becomes brittle and less effective, so it needs replacing every five to seven years.

You can buy All Purpose Laboratory Parafilm on Amazon hereOpens in a new tab. (affiliate link).

Josh Mitchell

I'm Josh Mitchell. I love whiskey and am working on increasing my whiskey tasting abilities and my collection.

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