Ultimate Guide to Baileys: Does It Go Bad?

Does Baileys Go Bad The Ultimate Guide

All about Baileys

The alcohol content in Bailey’s Irish Cream is about 17% while the cream alongside the Irish whiskey is homogenized.

Homogenization is a process that takes two liquids; in this case Irish whiskey and cream, and mixes them so that they are the same thickness throughout, merging them together.

Basically combining two liquids into one. After this, it is emulsified with the help of refined vegetable oil and the emulsion of the two liquids is completed. This is done to top the liquids from separating, keeping the mixture tight.

Baileys is commonly sold in a 750ml bottle or more, which is fantastic if you want to have a heavy night or have people over. But, chances are you won’t be drinking it all in one day, maybe not even one week or month.

Baileys is a liqueur, and unlike liquors, liqueur doesn’t last forever. It’s not like that ancient bottle of vodka, or gin in your cupboard, because there is dairy in it, it will spoil with age.

Bailey’s goes bad, unlike some other drinks you may have in your cupboard, because of the cream in it, despite its mixing with alcohol it can still go bad, just slower than your normal, cream or dairy products. 

Because it contains real dairy, it is a risk, despite it tasting so good! The alcohol will keep it fresh for a little bit longer, lengthening the life of Baileys to about 2 years, on average. 

So, does Baileys go bad?...

Baileys is not the only Irish Cream Liqueur out there, but it is the only one that promises freshness for a minimum of two years. They stamp the best before date as EXACTLY 2 years after the batch was made.

Remember this is a best-before date and not an expiry, it’s more like guidelines, so once it has passed the best-before date, be cautious and check the liquid before you drink. 

Note that this does not mean it will go off, the best before date is an indication of freshness and after the best before date, it may start to lose flavor. It may also mean a gradual separation between the cream and alcohol, which will affect the smoothness of the texture and delightfulness of the taste.

Can you drink expired Baileys?

Once Baileys has gone past its best-before date, you can still drink it as it should remain good for a few weeks or maybe even months. Though it may not taste quite as good as before. 

On the other hand, if your Bailey’s has not only expired but also curdled, we do not recommend drinking it, similar to as you wouldn’t indulge if gone off milk.

The taste and texture would be off and it would very likely be sour. So we do not recommend that at all. It wouldn’t be very pleasant to drink.

Not only that but it is also likely to make you sick or give you a stomach upset. It won’t do any long-term damage but it will make you feel unwell for a while, so it’s not worth it.

But, how can you tell if Baileys has gone bad?

Most of the time, when you throw away your Baileys is it not because it has gone off, but because the taste and texture have depleted and it just doesn’t have the flavor you love anymore. So it gets thrown away.

There is nothing wrong with throwing it away at this point, as you are avoiding unsatisfying Baileys and also eliminating the risk of accidentally drinking the mixture when it’s gone bad.

So, how can you tell if it has actually gone bad and curdled?

Well, you will want to do three checks: 

1. Smell

First of all we check the smell, much as we would with milk.

If it has gone bad, it might smell a bit like custard, or it may smell sour much like milk would. 

Note, that the odor will simply have changed from before

2. Texture

When Baileys is good, it will be creamy and smooth, half the reason we all love it so much right? Well, if it has expired, it will be the total opposite, it will be thick, lumpy, or congealed.

Its consistency will be totally off. Check it as you would with milk or dessert cream, nothing worse than lumps in something that is not supposed to have lumps.

3. Color

Of course, don’t forget color, if your Baileys passed the smell and texture test, then go for the color test.

If it has gone bad or is starting to, then there will start to be a separation between the cream and the whisky, this will make the drink start to look dark.

If it is dark then you are only a little while away from coagulation, so it is best to throw it out now. 

Of course, if your Baileys passes all these tests, then put it to taste. Your taste buds will be able to tell you a lot about your food and drink. You know what it is supposed to taste like and if it doesn’t then it’s probably on its way out.

But if the taste is starting to go and you do not mind, then there is no reason to necessarily throw it out, it isn’t gone off yet and if you are not bothered by any slight changes in taste then you can still keep it.

What will happen if I drink curdled Baileys?

The short answer? It depends.

If Baileys is curdled, it weirdly does not always mean it has become bad or unsafe to drink. In some cases, the taste and texture will just be unappealing.

Though, if your baileys is past expiration, has been stored inadequately, or has been contaminated by outside factors, as well as the liqueur being curdled, then it is probably time to get rid of it and buy a fresh bottle, as it has probably gone bad. 

If you drink it while it is in this state then you will probably get sick, get a stomach ache, or other digestive problems. Though, it will only be short term and will not be life-threatening, much like if you drink gone of milk or have curled cream. 

That being said, if your Baileys is gone off, it will have lost its flavor and the texture due to its curdling won’t be pleasant so it is not worth getting sick over. 

There are a few other things to consider about drinking expired Baileys.

One point to note is that, if you’re putting Baileys into a mixer, with other drinks, it should be fine and fresh. Although mixing may be difficult or a problem, especially with Baileys mix and consistency, as the cream is a heavy component. 

Another thing to note, especially if you are mixing flavors, drinks, and so on, is that acid will curdle Baileys, things such as citrus or sodas are high in acid and will curdle baileys, so it is unwise to mix baileys with sprite and a slice of lemon, it will likely curdle it.

But, that being said, an expert bartender or drinks mixer, may know how to mix Baileys with a soda, to create an Irish soda, without curdling the cream content of Baileys.

If you are a novice or are not an experienced drink mixer, it would be advised to avoid it as you will likely serve up a lumpy drink. That being said, it is not frowned upon to experiment for yourself, so long as you’re willing to endure a lumpy drink.

Due to how easily Baileys can curdle with many popular mixers, it is most often combined with coffee or hot chocolate in mixers. These are not acidic enough to curdle it and also taste delicious. 

How long does Baileys last?

Manufacturers report that Baileys has a shelf life of two years, though, personally, we recommend drinking it within 6 months, for the best taste and flavor. This is regardless of opening time and where it is stored.

But it is also best for your Baileys to be kept away from sunlight. You don’t want it being cooked and hot- this is also not good for Baileys.

As the whiskey in the Baileys acts as a natural preservative in the drink, it adds an impressive lifespan to the cream, meaning that it can be kept for a longer time than you might expect.

Within the first 6 months, Baileys is considered to be at its youngest, with the most health in its quality, delicate flavor, and smooth texture.

After the first 6 months, it may start to slowly deteriorate. But the key indicators of life for your Baileys is the date manufacturers note on it as well as your own; smell, texture, color, and taste test.

It is highly unlikely that your Baileys will spoil the day after it had passed expiry, but it is still good to take stock in its best-before-date.

It is suggested not to store it anywhere with a temperature higher than 25C or 77F, Keep it out of direct sunlight, to avoid your Baileys warming. 

Some people may still be able to drink their Baileys years after the best-by date, whereas others have not been so lucky and it has gone off faster, and they’ve only had a few weeks after opening to drink it.

How long will Baileys last unopened?

An unopened bottle of Baileys should last months if not years beyond its two-year best-by date.

As it has had no effect from oxygen, the alcohol will help to preserve the cream for even longer, keeping it fresh in a completely sealed environment. 

The only thing that could affect this would be heat. So be sure to store your Baileys in a safe, cool place, such as a dark cellar, refrigerator, or other dark and cool places, away from the sun or excessive heat.

This will keep it at its freshest, it is best to put it somewhere dark to avoid any surprises from a hot and sunny day, that could affect your Bailey’s lifespan. 

How long does Baileys last when opened?

Once you have opened your Baileys, there are plenty of potential factors that could have an influence on the lifespan of your Baileys. Nonetheless, manufacturers still note that it has an average shelf life of two years. 

Yet, there are some considerations once you have cracked it open, and some need to knows about safely storing your liqueur for ultimate freshness and longevity.

You will need to keep it cool, so remember to store it somewhere cool and dark, away from any possible heat sources. 

Once your bottle has been opened, it will be even more sensitive to temperature, so always re-seal and return it to its cool, dark home after you’ve opened and poured.

Not only is it more sensitive to temperature, but is also more attractive and vulnerable to bacteria and invasive outside contamination. Protecting it from the outside world, will keep it freshest and prevent premature curdling. 

There are a few hard do not’s and one of these is to never drink from the bottle, especially if you intend to keep it. Not only is drinking from the bottle wildly unhygienic but it also creates a breeding ground for bacteria inside your bottle.

If bacteria get into your bottle from drinking directly from it, the bacteria could very easily curdle your Baileys. Resulting in a faster than expected death of your drink. 

For the same reason, you should not leave your bottle unsealed or uncapped for any amount of time longer than absolutely necessary. This, much like drinking from the bottle, will also allow foreign bodies into your drink and it will likely curdle.

Though alcohol may be a lethal weapon when it comes to killing bacteria, the cream in Baileys is too much of a temptation for bacteria and pathogens, and they will breed and curdle your drink.

The longer your bottle is open, the more attractive it is to these nasty foreign bodies, the more likely it is to develop mold, and the sooner it will curdle.

Should Baileys be refrigerated after opening, how do I store it?

Every Baileys has manufacturer instructions on it that will tell you the best way to keep your Baileys safe and highly consumable. The manufacturer recommends refrigeration after opening for the best taste but recommends keeping the bottle at 0-25C/32-77F for adequate storage. 

Keeping it in a liqueur cabinet or home bar, is also okay, so long as the temperature is cool enough and you do not get overly hot summers if you are planning on keeping your bottle that long.

There is no necessary need to keep your Baileys refrigerated, it does not necessarily require to be refrigerated for freshness, simply kept cool.

Though Baileys, like many other Irish Cream beverages, is best enjoyed cold, so should you wish to refrigerate your Baileys for temperature safety, it would also save you the trouble of getting it out to put it in the fridge every time you intend to serve. 

Due to the cream content, it is recommended to be refrigerated once opened, like with any dairy products it can go bad if inadequately stored. Though, again, Baileys simply is best stored below 25C/77F. But refrigeration is promoted for this kind of beverage, it won’t hurt it to do so. 

Some interesting facts about Baileys

  • When made, the whisky and cream mixture alone was far from satisfactory, so they added in hot chocolate powder mix. This ended up becoming a key ingredient. The mixture was tweaked slightly before it went public, but nevertheless, it is delicious.
  • During the testing process of Baileys, they used focus groups, they gave it to men, who although emptied their glasses called it ‘a girls drink’. When given to women they found the appearance of the drink unsatisfactory, claiming it looked like a medicine. After it was unsuccessful for a while, a test bottle was drunk by two police officers who finished off the whole bottle, and 
  • shortly after, Baileys was released to the public.
  • Although upon its public release, drink tycoons said that it would never sell in America, it quickly became the best selling liqueur in the world.
  • It is part of a famous ‘ prank shot’, in which you take two shots, the first is a shot of Bailey’s, and the second is a shot of lime. Holding the Baileys in your mouth when you take the lime shot, you will feel the Bailey’s curdle in your mouth. Ew! How Gross!
  • Baileys cream is real Irish cream. Every year 220 million liters of fresh milk are used to create the cream in Baileys, the cream that makes it so smooth and tasty. This milk comes from 38,000 dairy cows from 1,500 family-owned farms located mainly on the eastern coast of Ireland. Those cows deserve a thank you! 

A few things you can mix with Baileys Irish Cream, that won’t curdle!


Coffee and Baileys are like long lost lovers. If you’re a coffee lover, you probably already know that cream in your coffee is a delight.

Well, Baileys is no different, it has that creamy goodness you love and whisky too, to give you that extra kick you know you want.

2. Hot Chocolate.

Baileys and hot drinks are a dream team, it seems like you cannot go wrong with Baileys and a hot drink mixed together.

Baileys pairs especially well with darker hot chocolates something rich, so that the Baileys will balance it out, avoiding overpowering sweetness.

Although if you do have a sweet tooth, there’s no saying that you can’t mix sweet with sweet, it’s like drinking the world’s yummiest dessert! 

3. Ice Cream.

Would you believe that it pairs well with ice cream? Well, it does. Think of it as a slightly alcoholic ice cream sundae. If you have one of those Ice cream sundae glasses that look like they’re from the ’50s, even better!

The best way to serve Baileys with ice cream is to scoop out the ice cream ad then drizzle the Baileys over it, like a gorgeous creamy sauce.

It will just make the whole dish even creamier and it works well with most ice creams. Although we definitely recommend it with; chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and sherbert. (Give the last one a try, you’ll thank us.)

4. English or Early Grey Tea.

Just like with your coffee, you could put cream in it, but why put cream in it when you can push Baileys Irish Cream in it?

It tastes delicious and gives your tea that extra smoothness we are all looking for.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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