Wines and whiskey are known to get better as they age. But is this also the case with gin? Does gin get better with age?
No, gin won’t get better with age. However, it also won’t go bad or taste dull for a good few years. Gin is commonly bottled in glass bottles, and liquids in glass bottles usually don’t age anyways. Since gin does not get better with age, there’s no point in letting it sit.
But why does aging have no effect on the taste of gin? In this article, we’ll dive deeper into why gin doesn’t get better with age.
Aging Gin; The Effects On Taste
Gin is a distilled spirit that, unlike most other spirits, is infused with botanicals. These botanicals can range from cinnamon to coriander, to anise. Of course, the gin also has to include juniper berries, otherwise, it won’t officially be gin.
Once the gin is infused with the botanicals, it’s bottled in a glass bottle, and liquids in glass bottles don’t really develop over time. You can imagine that a drink stored in an oak casket will take on the rich flavors of the oak casket.
However, glass doesn’t really have a ‘flavor’, so there’s nothing to age in. The distillation process also ensures that only the spirit is left, and not the botanicals themselves. The botanicals could develop over time, but because its distilled, this possibility is taken away.
In fact, leaving a bottle of gin to age can actually have a negative effect on the taste. It is often recommended that you drink your bottle of gin within one year. The shelf life is a lot longer as most spirits don’t really go bad over time, but within a year or so is preferred.
The sole reason for this is as follows: Gin is almost like perfume. Botanicals consist of top notes, middle notes, and base notes. The top notes are the most volatile. They are the weakest and over a long period of time, they’ll become weaker in taste as well.
The top notes will also be the first to evaporate and the first to break down when you give gin a vigorous shake. It is recommended to never shake your gin. Read more in our guide about shaking versus stirring your gin.
Back to why gin doesn’t get better with age; The top notes will start to weaken over time, especially if your bottle has already been opened.
When exposed to air, the top notes will be the first to evaporate, taking away some key characteristics of your gin. This will also cause the gin to lose some of its scents as well.
This, of course, is a slow process, which is why you can easily store your gin for a few years. However, to keep the fullest potential of flavor, consuming your gin in a timely manner is the best way to go!
How To Best Store Your Gin
In order to best preserve the taste of your gin, you’ll need to store it properly. Storing your gin is rather easy, luckily, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
The first and most important thing to keep in mind is to not store your gin in direct sunlight. The heat, energy, and light of the sun will quicken the evaporation process, even if your bottle hasn’t been opened before.
Of course, you can store your gin on a nice display if you’d like, just make sure it isn’t in direct contact with the sun’s rays. Storing gin at room temperature is fine.
Alcohol is one of the best preservatives in the world, so a spirit simply won’t go bad that easily. Room temperature is, as we said, fine, but there is a better alternative.
The best way to store your gin is to store it in a freezer or fridge. This will keep your gin cold, but also away from any heat and light.
Cooling down your gin will also slow down the evaporation process to simply null. Gin is also best served cold, so it’s a win-win.
Another added benefit of storing your gin in the freezer is that the drink will be cold. When you’ll eventually serve it, either as a cocktail or straight (yes, you can drink gin straight! It’s actually really good.)
The gin is cooled down to a temperature that will pretty much match the temperature of your ice. This slows down the melting of the ice, making for a less diluted drink.
Will Gin Go Bad Over Time
As we mentioned before, spirits will rarely go bad. In fact, most spirits actually get better over time. This isn’t the case with gin, but it is safe to say that gin doesn’t go bad over time.
This is first made clear by the fact that the bottle has no expiration date. This in and of itself should tell you enough!
But it’s also good to know that alcohol is a fantastic preservative, and, seeing as gin should have at least 37,5% ABV (Alcohol By Volume), it’s safe to assume it won’t go bad any time soon.
Even though gin won’t go bad over time, there are a few negatives to keeping your gin for a long time. As we discussed before, storing your gin for a long time, even when properly stored, will result in a duller taste.
The build-up of gin, consisting of the top, middle, and base notes will become weaker over time, resulting in a weaker, less crisp taste.
Leaving your gin to sit for a long time also gives the evaporation process more time to slowly destroy your beautiful spirit. The alcohol is usually the first liquid to evaporate, which makes for a weaker drink. Afterward, the water used in the gin will evaporate as well.
All in all, these negatives are pretty much negligible, as they’ll take a very long time before they’ll start to make a noticeable difference, but it’s better to avoid them than to regret them later on. After all, these are some very simple precautions anyone can take.
Many spirits will benefit significantly if you age them for a long time. This, however, isn’t the case with gin. In fact, aging gin can actually become its downfall.
This will take a long time, so there’s no hurry in finishing your bottle, but after a year (or two), your gin will slowly start to break down. The botanicals responsible for that crisp gin flavor will become dull and weak, making for a lesser taste.
After a good while, an opened bottle, as well as an unopened bottle will evaporate slowly. This, once again, makes for a duller drink, which is not desirable.
No need to worry, though. The time for these negative effects to take place and make a noticeable difference is much longer than most people need for finishing a bottle of gin!