If you are curious about moonshine and how to make it, you might be wondering if moonshine can go bad over time. The true answer to that question really depends on the type of moonshine you have, your distilling setup, your ability to safely store your batch, and how the distilling industry defines “bad moonshine.”
Standard, Straight Moonshine
If you make moonshine the right way and don’t add flavor, it will simply never go bad.
You can store moonshine for years and not risk health problems by drinking it. Many distillers will treat their runs of moonshine the way a vineyard might treat a specific vintage.
If you’re running a batch of unflavored, straight shine, the key to ensure that it will keep is to store it properly. That means airtight containers in a dark, temperature controlled environment.
Although standard moonshine will never spoil no matter the amount of time you store it, flavored moonshine is a different story and has the potential go bad over time. The sugars in many of the common flavors will add additional factors and components that don’t hold up as well as straight moonshine. Additives like sugars and other flavorings have the potential to grow mold after long periods of storage.
The good news for new distillers though is that moonshine is a natural disinfectant, so it will kill most bacteria and preserve the flavor for much longer. Even once you open a jar of flavored moonshine, it will last for several years before becoming unsafe to drink or losing its taste.
Aging and Flavor
When the topic of moonshine and shelf life comes up, many people ask if moonshine gains flavor as the years pass. This theory makes sense on the surface because whiskey distillers age whiskey to enhance its flavor, but there’s a key difference between how whiskey and moonshine age.
When distillers age whiskey, they’re doing it in oak barrels and it’s the wood in the barrel and any of the other additives that give the whiskey it’s flavor. When you store in a container like a glass jar, you’re not going to develop any flavor, so don’t expect your moonshine to magically mature by sitting on the shelf in a jar.
We mentioned the term “bad moonshine” earlier because there are things that can happen during the distilling process that can cause a batch of moonshine to go bad. For instance, if your still isn’t completely sanitized before your brew, there’s a chance that contaminants can get in the cause issues with your shine. Even if you have a clean still setup, if you don’t carefully run your batch, you can also end up with “bad” moonshine from the get go, so it won’t matter how long you store it, it’ll always be bad.
The best rule of thumb is to make sure you have a great still setup and apply proper storage to your batch after it’s done. That way, you can always prevent your moonshine from ever going bad.