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Old and bitter
January 1, 2014 4:49 PM   Subscribe

My parents have found an unopened bottle of Fernet that belonged to my grandfather. This makes it at least 25 years old. Do herb liquors like this get any better or worse with such age? Is it still safe to drink?

Ok, let's get this out of the way first: Yes, I happen to like Fernet Branca.

I think the bottle has been stored in various closets and later in a dining room cabinet. So it's been in relative darkness but probably at room temperature. So we are not looking at "wine cellar conditions" for storage or anything like that.
posted by delicious-luncheon to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's perfectly safe. Enjoy it.
posted by Tanizaki at 4:55 PM on January 1

Safe? Yes. Exceptionally good? Maybe not.

Drink it in good health.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:59 PM on January 1

This article is relevant to your interests.

It's going to be like most distilled spirits in that it's pretty robust in bottle and won't improve or degrade significantly when unopened. Some stuff may change, but it's usually marginal.

If it were old old, it'd likely be of interest to cocktail mavens who seek out older bottles of spirits whose recipes change over time. If there's a bar in your area with that reputation, then you might ask if they're interested. At very least, it'll be worth a taste alongside new Fernet.
posted by holgate at 5:19 PM on January 1

No fernet will behave more like vermouth. The aromatics aren't stable.
posted by JPD at 5:22 PM on January 1

So, I guess it's pretty likely to be bland or, at best, just kind of meh?

I like the idea of trying it with a newer bottle for comparison, though!
posted by delicious-luncheon at 5:44 PM on January 1

As you know Fernet is pretty strong so I doubt it'll be bland but its hard to say which notes will have receded vs those that have moved to the fore.

It could end up being good if different from what it tasted like originally.
posted by JPD at 5:50 PM on January 1

You know, everyone says that bottled spirits don't change in the bottle, but I drank a bottle of Benedictine that had been sitting around for years unopened and it was ASTOUNDING. Syrupy, evanescent, intensely magical.
posted by Kaleidoscope at 8:15 PM on January 1

I have a Prohibition-era unopened bottle of Fernet Branca and the only reason I haven't opened it and tried it yet is because I haven't gotten around to picking up a new bottle for comparison yet. It should be safe and hopefully good. I'd try it!
posted by bedhead at 9:12 AM on January 2

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