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I realize it can go bad after a long time, but why does it take so much longer than other dairy products? Does it have to do with the alcohol content? If so, what is the process that is happening?

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I don't remember specifically about Bailey's, but I've seen "refrigerate after opening" instructions on other cream liqueurs. – Marti Nov 24 '10 at 19:48
I've often wondered this. Great question! – Michael at Herbivoracious Nov 25 '10 at 4:20
up vote 21 down vote accepted

Here is a quote from the company that makes the registered trademark Baileys Irish Cream:

Baileys® is the only cream liqueur that guarantees its taste for 2 years from the day it was made, opened or unopened, stored in the in the fridge or not when stored away from direct sunlight at a temperature range of 0-25 degrees centigrade.

One of the keys to achieving this 2 year shelf-life is in our patented process of blending of fresh Irish cream with the spirits and the whiskey without the use of preservatives. The alcohol acts as a natural preservative for the product.

Under normal conditions of storage Baileys has a shelf-life of 30 months.

If you are concerned about a bottle of Baileys® please check the best consumed before date on the bottle - all bottles now carry a best before date. This number is located on the bottom left hand side of the back label. Example : Code 11 20XY would mean that we guarantee the product would taste perfect until that date (XY is the year 2 years from the date of manufacture)


The alcohol content is the sole preservative listed.

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Alcohol may be the only preservative, but it's hard to think of a better one. Practically nothing will grow in it, if the concentration is high enough. – Satanicpuppy Nov 24 '10 at 22:34
Well, there's still something working better at Baileys than at "the off-brand cream liqueurs" plants, IMPE. Don't consume all that rapidly; re-opened a bottle of off-brand one day and found it solidified in the bottle. Has never happened to me with Baileys, and it often sits around, opened, for considerably more than 30 months before it's gone, here. – Ecnerwal Apr 14 '15 at 13:33

Ingredients: liqueur, acidity regulator (E331), emulsifier (E471), flavours (caffeine), colouring (caramel (E150b).

Source: a food product inventory database

The alcohol keeps the product from microbiological spoilage, the E331 (sodium Citrate) buffers the product form getting damaged by acids produced by any spoilage, and E471 (mono and diglycerides of fatty acids) keeps the fat from the cream stable in Emulsion.

Source: my opinion as a food scientist


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