Does Sake Go Bad?

If you have been consuming and experimenting with sake for a while then you have on more than one occasion asked yourself whether or not a bottle of sake has gone bad. Here we will show you how to tell and more importantly, how to maximize shelf life by storing it correctly.

How to store sake

Image is owned and taken by TokyoFoodCast.


How to tell if sake has gone bad?

This is a tricky question because there is no real way to tell. Sake brewers, unlike their Western counterparts, do not put expiry dates on their products.

There is, however, a little trick to it. Every bottle has a date of manufacture on the label and most bottles when stored correctly, will be perfectly fine within 2 years from this date.

It’s also worth noting that sake tastes its best when it’s aged so try to consume the bottle within 12 to 18 months from the date of production.

Another easy way to tell is by simply tasting it. This method only works if you are fairly familiar with the taste of the specific brand. If it tastes different then chances are good that it’s off from being stored incorrectly or it has exceeded the expiration date.


What if my bottle of sake has gone bad?

A natural reaction most people will have is to throw it out. Do not do this because there are no harmful effects from drinking it. Instead, try heating it a bit and see if the taste improves – even if it is a cold premium bottle.

If you still do not enjoy the taste after heating then why not use it for cooking purposes instead?

Does sake go bad?

Image owned and taken by Brostad.


How to store sake

Correctly storing sake can significantly increase its shelf life. Doing so is especially important when dealing with the more expensive premium brands. Also, keep in mind that an unopened bottle will stay fresh for at least twice as long than an already opened bottle.

Keep away from light:

Exposing your bottle to light, especially ultra-violet light, is probably the single worst thing you can do. Light causes an undesirable chemical reaction with the protein contained in sake, which leads to it going bad long before its due date.

Fortunately, an ever increasing number of brewers are adding a green or brown tint to their bottles to help minimize the damaging effect direct light can have on their product. Still, great care should be taken, and the best way to do this is to store your sake in a cool, dry, and more importantly, dark place.

Keep away from heat:

Any heat has a negative effect on perishable items, and this holds especially true when it comes to sake. Keeping your bottle at room temperature is ideal.

Keep the bottle in its box:

In many instances, when you buy a bottle it will come in a box. Most people upon purchasing will discard the box because in most cases the actual bottle looks far prettier than the packaging.

Try not to do this unless you are planning on drinking the whole bottle soon because the actual box provides an additional layer of protection from the damaging effects of light.


Can I store sake in the fridge?

Most types can be stored in the fridge for short periods of time. For longer term storage, it would be better to keep it in a cool and dry place. The only type of sake you absolutely have to store in the fridge, whether long or short term, is namazake (unpasteurized sake).


Conclusion:

Sake can and does go bad, very easily in fact. Minimize this by storing it correctly and by consuming it within 1 to 2 years from its manufacturing date. If your bottle has indeed gone bad, try heating it and see if that makes a difference to the taste. If still not pleasurable, then rather use it for cooking instead of throwing it out.


Related content

Best sake sets from Japan Best sake sets

Drink sake as you were intended to with these beautiful sets.

What is sake made of? How is sake made

Learn all about how this ancient Japanese drink is made.

How to heat sake How to heat sake

Heating sake need not be rocket science. Learn how to do it here.