The Best Way To Store Rum And How Long It Lasts After Opening

A staple of cocktails and a delight to sip on its own, rum is a delicious part of any home bar collection — but it only stays delicious if stored properly. Considering all the different types of rum, from complex, warming spiced rum to sweet, fruity gold rum, these flavors only stay bold and at their best if certain factors aren't getting in the way. Oxidation, too much light, and moisture in the air can all trigger chemical reactions transforming pleasant flavor compounds into undesirable ones. Heat can cause evaporation, softening flavors, and premature aging of the rum.

Unopened, a bottle of rum can last years; opened, it can last about six to eight months. This is only if the bottle is stored with care, though. You want to keep rum, either opened or unopened, in a cool, dark, dry place. This could be your pantry, or your basement if you have one. Serious rum connoisseurs might invest in a humidor to exercise complete control over the amount of moisture the bottle is exposed to, but well-placed storage can do the trick. If you've opened the bottle, make sure you reseal it as tightly as possible to limit air getting in — another tool some people use is a vacuum sealer. Especially if the bottle has a cork, store it upright, as the cork can break down if the rum keeps touching it, and a disintegrating cork means air exposure.

What happens when rum is past its prime

Thinking about how you can ensure limited contact with heat and light, you might wonder if the best rum storage option is your freezer. Technically, you can keep rum in your refrigerator or freezer, as the spirit shouldn't freeze. Rum ranges from about 40% to 46% in alcohol, so it's strong enough to withstand temperatures until they get down to about negative 17 degrees Fahrenheit — the ideal temperature for a home freezer is zero degrees. However, temperatures this extremely cold will begin to dull the vibrant flavors and complexity of your rum. Whether you're mixing up rum-based cocktails or intentionally picking a rum good for sipping neat, you don't want those flavors muted. If you do freeze your rum, let it sit out for about an hour before drinking to let some of those aromas warm back up.

Rum is unlikely to go bad in the sense that it will actually taste spoiled — if you do pick up on that, it may have been exposed to bacteria in the air and should be tossed. More commonly, the spirit will just see its flavor decline. If you're storing your rum well, you can go by the sell-by date on the bottle, plus that six-to-eight-month guideline if the bottle has been opened, to know when the liquor is at its best. If you're not getting strong flavors anymore, the rum is likely past its prime.