Moonshine — like other standard spirits — does not expire. That is, unless it’s flavored moonshine; the added sugars can make it less shelf-stable. Moonshine — once slang for any illegal, homemade spirit — became legal in the United States in 2010. Today, it describes clear, unaged whiskey.
Does Moonshine Expire?
There are two general types of moonshine, standard and flavored. How long your moonshine will last depends on what kind of moonshine you have.
Like most other plain spirits — such as rum, whiskey, brandy, gin, and vodka — standard moonshine is distilled until there’s no remaining sugar, which means it is shelf-stable and can last indefinitely if unopened. Once a bottle of moonshine is opened, oxygen can begin to change the characteristics of the liquor and may even cause evaporation — but moonshine won’t go bad or expire like fresh food and even wine.
Flavored moonshine, such as the popular apple pie moonshine, have added sugars that make them less shelf-stable once opened and more vulnerable to expiration — but it will still take a long time to expire (i.e., several years). The brand Midnight Moon says the fruit in its products are preserved by the alcohol; but it advises against eating the fruit, as it may have a higher alcohol content than expected.
Does Moonshine Get Better with Age?
Since moonshine is, by definition, unaged white whiskey, it doesn’t spend any time aging in oak barrels before it’s released. The flavor characteristics provided by oak are usually what cause liquors to change over time, so it’s unlikely that moonshine will get better with age — though oxidization may degrade the flavors. This goes for flavored moonshine too.
In short, your moonshine is as good as it’s going to get when you buy it — so drink up!
How to Store Moonshine
Moonshine — regular or flavored — does not require refrigeration, but its longevity can be increased by refrigeration. Refrigerating moonshine certainly won’t damage it.
In addition, light and heat can impart subtle changes to the flavor of the liquor, which is why it’s a good idea to keep it in a cool, dark place out of direct sunlight. You can also help preserve the flavor of moonshine by keeping it in the smallest bottle possible, which limits the liquor’s contact with air.
Historically, moonshine was stored in glass jars, which meant bootleggers’ vehicles were often outfitted with shocks and springs to protect the bottles. Some commercial moonshines are maintaining that tradition by selling moonshine in canning jars today.
As one of the strongest alcoholic beverages, moonshine does not expire, though light, heat, and air can change the characteristics of an opened bottle over time. Flavored moonshine, which contains sugar, is less shelf-stable but can last several years after opening. Moonshine does not get better with age, and, instead, is at its peak when you first purchase it (or make it). To learn more about the price of moonshine, see our article, How Much Is a Gallon of Moonshine?