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How Long Does Sake Last?

One day you open your liquor cabinet and you see a bottle of sake sitting there. At this time, you may wonder “How long does sake last?” and whether you can still use that bottle of sake or not. If you’re not familiar with sake, it’s really hard to know how long it lasts. If you want to find the answer, you should definitely read this blog.

How Long Does Sake Last?

Normally, you will not find an expiry date printed on most bottles of sake as this is not mandatory. However, you will see the date of manufacture on the label. That is the date when sake was bottled, but not brewed.

how long does sake last

Normally, you will not find an expiry date printed on most bottles of sake as this is not mandatory

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Sake will never deteriorate to the extent that it will become harmful to consume, but it will degrade with time. This means the flavour may start to change after a period of time and sake is no longer at its best quality. For example, if you store an unopened bottle of sake in the pantry or cabinet for 6 years, it can be safe to use, but the quality may not be great any more.

When you open the bottle, you should consume it within a day to get the best possible quality. If you cannot consume the whole bottle in one day, put it into the fridge so that it can be safe to consume for a few weeks.

When you open the bottle, you should consume it within a day to get the best possible quality

Below is a table showing “How long does sake last?” or the estimated shelf life for unopened, opened, pasteurized and unpasteurized sake. Note that all dates are after the manufacturing date and are for the best quality.

Pantry/Cabinet Fridge
Sake (Unopened)

2 years

Sake (Opened) 2 – 4 weeks
Unpasteurized Sake (Unopened) 6 months
Pasteurized Sake (Opened) 1 – 2 weeks

How To Store Sake?

There are three basic rules of storing sake that you should bear in mind.

1. Keep It Away From Sunlight

You know, UV radiation of the sunlight causes the components and color of sake to change quickly. It may even make sake have a burnt aroma like singed hair. Therefore, you should make sure to keep sake in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight as well as other sources of heat.

2. Store Sake With The Right Temperature

The temperature also affects the quality of sake. It is recommended that you store sake in a place that has the temperature of around 20℃ because this temperature is the best for almost all types of sake. However, unpasteurized sake or namazake is an exception here as you ought to keep this kind of sake refrigerated with the ideal temperature from 5 to 6℃.

3. Always Seal The Bottle Tightly After Using

The biggest enemy of sake is oxygen. When it is exposed to oxygen, it oxidizes and thus, it will lose its fresh aroma. Therefore, once you open the bottle of sake, you should never leave the bottle open without a cap. Remember to get the bottle tightly sealed and store it in the fridge.

Watch this video to know how to store sake!

How To Tell If Sake Is Spoiled?

The chance that an unopened bottle of sake gets spoiled is very slim. However, if you store it for a long time, its taste may not be best when you open it. It’s still safe to drink, though.

Regarding an opened bottle, it will not go bad too fast if you store it in the fridge. You are more likely to discard it because of quality purposes.

There are signs that sake is spoiled. Now, let’s go through them!

  • Pungent smell: If sake smells bad, you should throw it away.
  • Off taste: To check the flavour, you drink a small amount of sake. If there’s something wrong with it, you should also remove it.
  • Yellow tint: Sake is normally clear, so the yellow tint indicates that the oxidation process occurred and damaged the alcohol.
  • Particles, either floating or on the bottom of the bottle: If there are particles appearing inside the bottle of sake, this means that sake has fallen apart.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does Sake Go Bad?

As you have known, sake does not have an expiry date printed on the label and you cannot tell exactly “how long does sake last?”. Nevertheless, if you store it properly, sake will not go bad easily and you can still keep its flavour for quite a long time. On the other hand, if improperly stored, the taste of sake can change within just a few hours.

Direct sunlight and high temperature can make sake go bad quickly, so make sure to keep it in a cool and dark place. Once you open the bottle, remember to put it in the refrigerator if you don’t consume the whole bottle in a day.

So, does sake need to be refrigerated after opening? The answer is yes. If you don’t store it in the refrigerator, it will definitely get spoiled.

2. How Long Can You Keep An Unopened Bottle Of Sake?

An unopened ordinary bottle of sake can be kept for about 1 – 2 years and the sake still keeps its best flavour. For unopened unpasteurized sake (namazake), the period of time for storage is shorter (about 6 months).

3. Should Sake Be Kept In The Fridge?

Prior to opening, most kinds of sake can be kept at room temperature in a dark place. However, after opening, sake should be stored in the fridege in order to keep its original taste.

4. Is Sake Good After Opening?

Once you open a bottle of sake, it comes in contact with air and oxidation begins. This process may change the flavour of sake. Thus, it is advisable that you consume the opened sake as soon as possible to enjoy its best taste.

If that is not an option, you can keep it in the fridge. But, how long does sake last after opening? Well, opened sake can still be good up to a month if refrigerated.

Conclusion

Hopefully, after reading this food and drinks blog you have found the answer to the question “how long does sake last?”. Now if you cannot consume a bottle of sake within one day, you know how to store properly right? If you have had any experience with sake or you would like to recommend other ways to store this wonderful beverage, please feel free to share!

About Haruto Suzuki

Haruto Suzuki is a senior food and drinks blogger at Question Japan. He has a background in F&B industry and also experience of running his own Japanese restaurant in Tokyo for over 10 years. Therefore, he has a great knowledge of Japanese cuisine. So if you want to discover Japan through its unique traditional cuisine, Haruto Suzuki’s blog will be a great source of information for you.