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How long do you keep an unfinished bottle of rum?


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Earl Elliott

Posted 25 Mar '21 from Canada with 202 ratings

Doing some spring cleaning and came across a couple of unfinished bottles of rum.  I recall reading a Rum Rater saying that the sugared rums tend to go off taste if left for a while.  I sampled 4 opened rums that have sat in my bar for 6 years. The Appleton 21 seemed to be a bit more woody and sharp on the pallet but still drinkable and I plan on finishing that bottle sooner than later.   The Pussers 15 year old seemed to be okay from what I could remember it being.  The Goslings Family Reserve was definitely off, I might give it a try another day but for now it's gone from a sipping rum to a mixing rum or maybe down the drain.  It's sweetness seems to have compounded over time in a partial bottle.  The St Lucia 1931 (81st Anniversary) also seemed a bit sharp but that could have been from tasting the Pussers prior to that.  I was using some wine preservative spray to keep the rums from oxidizing, but I don't think that did much for the rum.   
In conclusion I am of the opinion that if you open a bottle, then drink it within 3 or 4 years.  If it's really good that gives you time to find a second bottle, although that can be a challenge.     
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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 400 ratings Replied 26 Mar '21

Earl:

When I first started this rum journey more than 3 years ago, I started out like most other newbies to premium rums and stocked up on the sugar bombs and sweet rums. I was so proud of my collection and expected it to last more than six months. The longest that I ever had any spirit last was six months for a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Bourbon (back when it was only $70 instead of thousands).

Well, to my utter horror, any heavily sugared rum with 20 gpl or more of added sugars will cause the flavors to deteriorate once the bottle becomes half full. I then recommended 4 months maximum shelf life for these sweetened rums, but any within less than 2 months of being opened should be fine. I also live in a sub-tropical climate and make sure to keep them out of any sunlight. Well, there went my notion of collecting rums! And with added sugars causing me to be married to the royal porcelain throne the next day, this was my second reason for staying away from rums with 20 gpl or more of added sugars.

These two reasons caused me to slowly appreciate dry rums and rhum agricoles, and those are all that I buy now. There is an occasional foray into new coconut or spiced rums, but that is about it. I like them, but they don't like me. After my awakening on how rums can deteriorate in the bottle, I now have a column in my spreadsheet for Date Opened. Most are in heavy rotation and only last one month. That will now slow down even more. In lieu of a spreadsheet, one can place a piece of freezer tape on the bottom of the bottle to mark the Date Opened.

So my simple answer is that I have never had a bottle of rum last more than six months, let alone like the ones that you found stashed away. Now if they were never opened, they should still be good.
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Earl Elliott

From Canada with 202 ratings Replied 26 Mar '21

Paul. Great response and lots of good points again. Thanks for your input. I like sweet rums which is why I don't have many unfinished bottles in the 20+ GPL range, but I am working my way towards finishing a rum within 3 months of opening it. Definitely going to do some spring Drinking...er Cleaning to clear up these unfinished bottles. Some may be disposed of and the others might make it into a blend for immediate consumption. Cheers.
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Pirate

From Greece with 30 ratings Replied 26 Mar '21

I had a Captain Morgan Original Spiced, from 2011. It had one last gulp, inside. Finished it up, last year (2020). I now have my first Chairman's Reserve 1931, almost empty; it has only one last serving, inside! I plan to drink it up when my life is about to end or something. All others are gone; Why is the rum always gone?
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Harrie

From Netherlands with 76 ratings Replied 26 Mar '21

In all honesty I never had a bottle of rum opened for longer than a couple of months with 7 or 8 months as a max. In reality most bottles are empty within weeks, not months. I don't think (dry) rums will really go bad but will loose a lot of flavour whether through oxidation or by loosing the more volatile ingredients.

@Pirate: I would not wait too long with that 1931 when the bottle has just one serving left; give yourself a nice excuse to finish it soon, find yourself the next best thing, buy at least 2 bottles and keep one unopened till your final days! :-)
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Stefan Persson (TASTING CLUB)

From Sweden with 217 ratings Replied 26 Mar '21

I participated in a Cognac course some years ago led by the Master Blender of Grönstedt’s Cognac. 

At that course I learned that a bottle represents 1 year when first opened. The time the content still tastes as it should depends thereafter on how much you drink that first opening. 

2 examples:
1) If you drink 1/3 you should finish the rest in 8 months. 
2) If you drink 2/3 you should finish the rest in 4 months.
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Pirate

From Greece with 30 ratings Replied 26 Mar '21

@Harrie

That actually is really tempting, since the final serving of this rum, contains edible solids (resting at the bottle's bottom), that bring an explosive taste with a mind-numbing, wild sensation (No81 had solids, the Chairman's Reserve has powdered remnants)... But i really need to reserve it! When i fully succeed in restocking, then i will still keep it intact, since the last serving is always the best serving (refer to my review of No81)!

@Stefan Persson

Thanks for sharing the professional information with us and presenting it to everyone! This community is both friendly and helping; trully exemplary! Makes somebody really glad to hang around!
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Harrie

From Netherlands with 76 ratings Replied 26 Mar '21

@Pirate:

My online vendor doesn't ship to Greece but I did found one in Belgium that does though the website doesn't state the costs of that. Unfortunately the webshop is only in dutch but I think you could send them an e-mail in english (most dutch-speakers do have a basic knowledge of english) for an inquiry. This is the 'map' with the treasure; https://den-hoorn.be/product/chairmans-reserve-1931/
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Earl Elliott

From Canada with 202 ratings Replied 26 Mar '21

Update on what to do with unfinished rums. I put a couple of drops of distilled water into my Appleton 21 and it changed the taste to where it was enjoyable again. Like they suggest with Scotch, adding some distilled water will open the taste profile and it's true.  I am still going to finish this within the next  month but for now I would say it's been salvaged from the drain or relegated to the mixer category. 
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kudzey (TASTING CLUB)

From Poland with 18 ratings Replied 27 Mar '21

I have an opened bottle of Zacapa 23 from last year's September and another full bottle I got for Christmas (my family and friends still believe that Zacapa 23 is a perfect rum gift for me...). Your discussion inspired me to do a back-to-back tasting of these two. As the rum is highly sugared I should be able to feel the difference.
I also have two samples of the basic Hampden so I will try to see if there is be any difference for an unsugared rum. 

Can you also do similar tests? I mean not based on memories (I don't feel I can store precise information about taste and smell in my mind for too long) but on a direct comparison. 




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Kamamura

From Czech Republic with 31 ratings Replied 30 Mar '21

Any booze will go down in proof as time goes by. That's why I like overproof bottlings!
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