Does Sake Go Bad? Shelf Life & Expiration Dates

Some of the most interesting foods and drinks in the world hail from the massive continent of Asia. Japan’s alcoholic beverage offering is a sweet drink known as sake. While it does have a slightly nutty taste with hints of fruit, the drink is actually made from fermented rice.

Sake is not something that one would find in the pantries of many westerners but those with a taste for something a little more exotic and unique will always keep a bottle to hand for special occasions. But should those special occasions not come round all that often, people wonder how long their drink will last; does sake go bad?

How Long Can You Keep A Bottle Of Sake?

Alcohol is one of the ebay preservers out there. You know the old saying ‘wine and women get better with age,’ well that almost applies to sake. You see, the drink won’t necessarily go bad to the point where it may cause illness if it is consumed but it might take on a new taste, that could be too much for some people.

However, when you purchase a bottle of sake, it will typically come with an expiration date and this date is given according to whether the drink has been pasteurized. If it has, then you can expect it to remain at its best for up to 12 months. But as we have mentioned, after this, it won’t be dangerous, just a little different where taste is concerned.

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Unpasteurized sake, which is known as namazake, will remain good in the fridge for up to seven months. But this is not a drink that is designed to be kept at room temperature and may begin to deteriorate within hours of being left out.

Does Opened Sake Go Bad?

While the manufacturer of any given bottle of sake will print a ‘best before’ date on the bottle, the sake can be safely consumed long after this. Bottles that have not been opened may still be just as good when they are left for ten years. That said, once you open the sake, you will need to keep it in the fridge where it may remain good for between a year and two.

Again, we have to point out that sake will taste best if it is consumed within the first year after it is purchased. Moreover, once the seal has been broken on the bottle, you must never store it without its cap; seal this as tightly as you can to retain the best taste.

Can You Drink 20 Year Old Sake?

If you were to drink sake that has been bottled for 20 years or more, you may notice that the flavor is not quite what you expected. But again, it probably wouldn’t do you much harm in terms of making you sick, as long as the bottle had not been left open for 20 years; that would be another case entirely.

Does Sake Taste Better With Age?

There is a particular type of sake that is popular in Japanese culture which is designed to be aged for much longer. Choki jukusei is a specific kind of sake that is left for at least three years before it is consumed; in the case of this sake, the older, the better.

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Once choki jukusei has been left for this longer time period, the flavor and color of the liquid becomes much more intense, hence its popularity.

Can Old Sake Make You Sick?

According to the Japan Times, sake, regardless of its age cannot make you sick. But the taste will drastically change and this may make you not want to drink it. Generally, when sake goes past its best, it will begin to taste off and the only way to know this is to check the taste. If it isn’t appealing, you can discard the sake and try another bottle.

Do You Drink Sake Warm Or Cold?

Since not everyone may be familiar with how the Japanese would drink sake, there are a lot of questions surrounding how the drink should be taken. Above all, your personal preference is what should dictate how you have your sake, however, for the most part tradition would suggest that the drink is best served chilled.

Hiya is the name for chilled sake and it is widely believed to be the best way of drinking this unique and delicious beverage. That said, there is a very fine line between sake that is chilled to perfection and sake that is too chilled.

According to tradition, the optimal temperature for sake is around 15ºc as this allows the delicate flavors of the drink to be released. However, some drinkers prefer to lower the temperature to what is known as ‘flower temperature’ making for a slightly cooler drink. It is important to keep in mind, however, that much of the flavor begins to dull when the drink is chilled to excess.

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Can Sake Get You Drunk?

Sake is an alcoholic drink and so, if you drink enough of it, you will become intoxicated. How much you can drink before feeling the effects will vary from person to person as we all have different tolerance levels.

With that in mind, we must advise that sake should always be drank responsibility. While this is not a beverage that will go bad and make you ill, consuming too much alcohol can certainly cause some ill effects.


Sake is an alcoholic drink that originated in Japan. A nation known for its ingenuity and innovation, it is no surprise that this beverage is unique and much loved around the world. The great thing about sake is that it won’t go off and can be kept in a sealed bottle for up to ten years.

However, while certain types of sake are known to taste better with age, there are others that will only retain their full and best flavor for around a year. Unpasteurized sake should always be kept in the fridge and consumed within seven months.