Baileys Irish Cream liqueur is a popular addition to any liquor cabinet, but the presence of cream causes some concern, especially for newcomers to the drink.
Baileys is commonly sold in a 750mL bottle or larger, which will account for many enjoyable beverages. You may not use your entire bottle in one night, or even over the course of a few months.
The tequila and vodka in your cabinet will last forever but does Baileys go bad? Yes, even though Baileys is an alcoholic beverage, it contains real dairy milk and cream that will spoil eventually. The alcohol helps to keep it fresh, however. A bottle will last for approximately 2 years after it’s manufactured if stored properly, whether it’s been opened or not.
In this article, you’ll learn what the expiry date on Baileys really means, how to tell if your Baileys is still fresh, and how to best store it to keep it safe and delicious for as long as possible.
Does Baileys Expire?
There are many different kinds of Irish Cream liqueur and the Baileys brand is the only company that guarantees their product will taste delicious for a minimum of 2 years.
Every bottle is stamped with a best-before date that is exactly 2 years after the batch was made.
This is not quite the same as an expiry date, but beyond the 2-year point the quality, texture, and flavor will start to degrade over time.
In most cases, this will lead to a slow loss of flavor and a gradual separation between the cream and the alcohol, which can negatively affect the texture.
In some cases, a good shake of the bottle will bring the consistency back to normal, but eventually, your Baileys will start to thicken and curdle.
Is It Safe To Drink Expired Baileys?
It is probably safe to drink expired Baileys but it would be advisable to check the quality before doing so.
You should be able to tell if your liqueur has gone bad, but it could remain perfectly enjoyable and safe a few weeks or even a few months beyond the best-before date.
If your Baileys has not only expired but has also definitely gone bad, it is not a good idea to drink it. Curdled cream can make you sick, though it’s not likely to do any lasting damage. It will probably taste sour and unappealing though.
Does Baileys Almande Expire?
All of Baileys Irish Cream varieties are covered by the same 2-year guarantee. There will be a best before date stamped on your bottle, though if you store it properly it can last safely for longer.
Baileys Almande has a slightly lower alcohol content than the original flavor, which may suggest it can go bad more quickly. However, on the other hand, almond milk will stay fresh considerably longer than dairy milk.
Whenever you notice any bottle of Baileys, or any other Irish Cream liqueur for that matter, has gone beyond its recommended use-by date, double-check the liquid to make sure it hasn’t gone bad before start serving drinks.
How Can You Tell If Baileys Has Gone Bad?
There are three ways you can check the quality of your Baileys before you even start to drink it.
First, pour a small amount into a glass and check for the following signs of spoilage. Then check for the:
- Smell: If the liqueur smells musty or has an aroma similar to custard, it has probably gone off.
- Texture: If the consistency of the liquid has gone from thick and creamy to congealed or lumpy, your Irish Cream may be curdled.
- Color: If you notice any separation between the milk and the Whiskey so that your drink looks dark and cloudy rather than creamy and opaque, your Baileys has gone bad.
If the smell, texture, and color all look like a healthy, delicious glass of Baileys to you but you’re still worried, take a small sip of the poured drink.
You’ll notice right away if it tastes sour, with a flavor similar to sour cream or yogurt. If it’s soured, it is no longer any good. If it is still sweet and creamy, you’re safe to enjoy your drink of choice.
What Happens If You Drink Curdled Baileys?
This is a tricky question. Curdled Baileys, surprisingly enough, does not always mean it is bad or unsafe to drink. You just may not enjoy the taste.
If your Baileys is beyond the expiration date, has been stored poorly, or if there’s any chance an outside contaminant could have gotten inside the bottle and the liqueur is curdled when you pour it into a glass, it has probably gone bad.
This can make you sick, though not in a life-threatening way.
If you’re making a mixed drink that includes Baileys that should be perfectly fine and fresh, the mix might be the problem.
Any dairy product will curdle if acid is introduced to the drink. Citrus juice or soda are common examples of mixers that can cause your Baileys to curdle.
An experienced drink mixer will know the proper technique for making an Irish Soda, for example, without causing the Baileys to curdle, but a novice might serve up a lumpy drink.
If you’re experimenting for yourself and are willing to endure the odd texture of a curdled drink, this is safe and won’t make you sick.
Because Baileys can curdle with many popular mixers, it’s most commonly served along with coffee or hot chocolate, which aren’t acidic enough to curdle the cream alcohol.
How Long Does Baileys Last?
As previously mentioned, Baileys guarantees their products for 2 years from the manufacture date. But it’s highly unlikely that the day after the best before date passes, the product will suddenly spoil.
When stored as suggested, in temperatures no higher than 25C or 77F and far away from direct sunlight, some people have been able to drink their Baileys years after the date stamped on their bottle.
Other people are not so lucky or, perhaps, not so careful with their storage, and their Irish Cream is not fit to drink only a few weeks after the bottle is opened.
How Long Does Baileys Last, Unopened?
An unopened bottle of Baileys, stored correctly, should last months if not years beyond the best before date. The alcohol is an effective enough preservative to keep the cream fresh in a completely sealed environment.
Exposure to heat can and will likely influence these results, so make sure your bottles are kept in a cellar, cool, dark room, or in your fridge, especially if you’re planning on saving the bottle for a date in the far future.
How Long Does Baileys Last Once Opened?
Once opened, many more factors can influence the freshness of your Baileys. The company still guarantees the product for 2 years, but you do have to be more careful about storage and how you use your liqueur.
Once the seal has been broken, the beverage inside will be even more sensitive to temperature fluctuations, so try to keep it cooled at all times. As soon as you’ve poured your drink, re-seal the bottle and return it to its cool, dark location.
Another major factor in keeping your Baileys fresh is protecting it from outside contamination.
Never drink straight from the bottle. It’s usually considered polite to pour a glass regardless, but drinking from the bottle can allow bacteria inside where they can colonize and curdle your Irish Cream.
You also want to be careful about leaving the bottle sitting uncapped or unsealed for any significant period of time.
Alcohol does a good job at killing anything that may invade your bottle, but the cream is still a rich and tempting attraction for a variety of pathogens.
The longer your bottle is left open to the air the higher risk it will be at for developing mold or otherwise going bad.
How Long Does Off-Brand Irish Cream Last?
Off-brand simply means any generic or less popular brand of Irish Whiskey.
Baileys is by far the most popular, but there are many other options out there that may be less expensive or have unique flavorings that you’re interested in trying.
Baileys is the only Irish Whiskey to offer any kind of quality guarantee on their product.
Other brands will have a “best before” date stamped on their bottles. Most will suggest that the liqueur will stay fresh for anywhere from 6 months to 2 years if the bottle is unopened and stored appropriately in a cool, dark location.
Once opened, most off-brand Irish Creams recommend storing the bottle in the fridge for no more than 6 months. After this point, the cream may not curdle, but the flavor and consistency may start to degrade more quickly.
How Long Does Homemade Irish Cream Last?
Making your own version of Baileys or an Irish Cream liqueur is easier than you might think but it certainly won’t come with a 2-year guarantee.
There are a few recipes available with slight variations on the ingredients used and each will probably offer a specific recommendation on how long the drink can be safely stored.
Most recipes use some combination of heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate syrup or cocoa, vanilla extract, and, of course, Irish Whiskey. Some will also call for a small amount of instant coffee.
The higher the alcohol content on the Whiskey, the longer your Irish Cream is likely to last.
Also, if you decide to use a dairy milk alternative, such as almond or soy milk, the result won’t be nearly as creamy, but it might last longer. Nut or soy milks have naturally longer shelf lives than dairy milk.
Depending on your ingredients, you can expect homemade Irish Cream to stay fresh in your fridge, if well covered and sealed, for up to 2 months, maximum.
How to Store Baileys
Every bottle of Baileys will have storage instructions printed on the bottle and it’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
In big, bold print at the top of their back label, there is the recommendation “refrigerate for best taste.” However, just below that they also suggest that the bottle should be stored between 0-25C or 32-77F.
For many people, storing their Baileys in the liquor cabinet should be just fine, as long as your home doesn’t get overly hot in summer months.
Does Baileys Need to Be Refrigerated After Opening?
No, according to the label it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, even after its open. However, it is recommended to “refrigerate for best taste.”
Since most beverages that use Irish Cream are enjoyed cold, keeping your Baileys in the fridge would help with serving temperature.
Most other brands of Irish Cream or any other cream-based alcohols will recommend refrigeration once opened. As the title implies, there is dairy in the mix which can go bad if not properly stored.
If you’re concerned about the safety or quality of your bottle, storing it in the fridge will never hurt and very likely be a good idea, though for Baileys brand exclusively, it isn’t required.
What Alcohol/How Much Alcohol is in Baileys?
The alcohol in Baileys is Irish Whiskey, which is made from triple-distilled, unmalted barley mixed with grain whiskey.
It’s known for being an extremely smooth alcohol. It’s flavored with cream, cocoa, and other added flavorings and sweeteners. The listed Alcohol by Volume (ABV) of the original Baileys is 17%.
Does Baileys Have Caffeine?
There may be trace amounts of caffeine in original Baileys because of the cocoa flavorings, but it wouldn’t be enough to affect even a small child.
Baileys does have an Espresso flavored Irish Cream which has slightly more caffeine in it, registering at about 37 mg/8 ounces. In comparison, an 8-ounce cup of true coffee will have upwards of 180 mg of caffeine.
Baileys Irish Cream is often used as an ingredient in alcoholic coffees which, of course, would increase the caffeine content to that of the coffee itself.
Other brands of Irish Cream liqueur may have varying amounts of caffeine in them as well. But unless they’re coffee-flavored or premixed with coffee, they’re not likely to have much more than trace amounts of caffeine.
What’s Good to Mix With Baileys?
If you’re new to mixing drinks with Baileys the last thing you want to do is experiment. You don’t want to guess it can be treated the same way as other spirits like rum or brandy, and then have your cocktail curdle in front of you.
Baileys is most commonly mixed with coffee or hot chocolate, or with other alcohols as well. But there are many other options for you to consider.
If you’re feeling creative, try one of these:
- A pint of Guinness
- Black tea
- Kahlua and cold milk or cold coffee
- Ice cream
- Rum, Kahlua, cocoa powder, and banana extract
Does Baileys Have Milk?
Yes, classic Baileys Irish Cream does contain milk, both in the form of cream and modified milk proteins.
The brand launched a vegan version of their classic alcohol in 2016 which is made with almond milk instead called Baileys Almande. It’s now available in most areas of the world through major liquor store providers.
While Baileys Almande is made with Irish Whiskey, it focuses more on the nutty flavor of the almond milk and brings out more of the vanilla flavoring and less chocolate than the original brand.
The Almande version is also much thinner and milder than the original. It’s a great vegan alternative, but is in no way an exact duplication of the original liqueur.
Is Baileys Gluten-Free?
All of the additional ingredients listed in Baileys are gluten-free, however, it does contain Irish Whiskey. Irish Whiskey is made from grains that contain gluten, though the distillation process should remove that gluten.
If you are very sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease, you may want to avoid Baileys and other Irish Cream products or, at the very least, consume a small amount as a trial run to see if you have a reaction.