I drank two-year-old eggnog and lived to tell the tale | Bleader

I drank two-year-old eggnog and lived to tell the tale

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This is two-year-old eggnog. It won't kill you. Or at least it didn't kill me. - JULIA THIEL
  • Julia Thiel
  • This is two-year-old eggnog. It won't kill you. Or at least it didn't kill me.

You're not supposed to eat old eggs. Or drink milk that's been sitting around for—oh, say, a year or two. So two-year-old eggnog sounds like a pretty bad idea. But there's a loophole, it turns out. Alcohol is the key (as is so often the case): it kills any bacteria that may be lurking in the perishables, making the eggnog safer to consume than it would have been when fresh.

This isn't the first time I've tried aged eggnog. The first time I made it, I tasted it immediately and then again after four weeks, when the flavors had melded and eliminated a lot of the eggnog's alcoholic burn. The next year I tried the eggnog I'd made the previous year, comparing it to a batch I'd mixed up a few weeks prior. I expected the extra aging to mellow the eggnog's flavor even more, but found the opposite: the older nog had more complexity, but also a sharper alcoholic bite that I didn't find particularly pleasant.

JULIA THIEL
  • Julia Thiel

That first batch of eggnog is now two years old. I didn't get around to mixing up this year's batch until just recently, so I couldn't compare it to lightly aged eggnog, but I did still have some of last year's eggnog left. Before I get to how they currently taste, though, I should mention that in the post I wrote last year about drinking year-old eggnog, I explained a little of the science behind why aging nog makes it safer to drink; if you want to know more about that (or how long George Washington aged his eggnog) you can find it here.

To summarize: alcohol kills any salmonella that may be present in raw eggs, but it takes up to three weeks to eliminate the bacteria completely, and you have to make sure the ratio of alcohol to other ingredients is high enough—at minimum, about 14 percent ABV. (Bear in mind that the odds a given egg is infected with salmonella in the first place is extremely low, so unaged eggnog isn't particularly unsafe. The recipe I used is from Michael Ruhlman.)

Eggnog from 2013 (left) and 2014 - JULIA THIEL
  • Julia Thiel
  • Eggnog from 2013 (left) and 2014

The one-year-old and two-year-old eggnogs didn't taste radically different from one another—but both lacked the alcoholic bite I remembered from the year-old stuff I'd tasted last year. Instead, the 2013 vintage had acquired a subtle but slightly metallic flavor I disliked (I'd say that was the power of suggestion from a post I read last year about a metallic flavor in five-week-old eggnog, but I'd completely forgotten about the article until I came across it again yesterday). A friend who was tasting with me didn't notice a metallic flavor in the older eggnog, but did think that the 2014 version tasted unpleasantly eggy—something I didn't detect. She preferred the 2013 eggnog; I liked the 2014 better.

Freshly mixed eggnog - JULIA THIEL
  • Julia Thiel
  • Freshly mixed eggnog

While the aging mellowed the alcoholic burn of the freshly mixed eggnog, I was starting to wonder whether it was worth it. Then I made a fresh batch to age and tasted it side by side with the older eggnogs. The new one was creamy, sweet, and pleasant—but a little boring next to the older versions. So into the fridge it goes until it has a chance to develop the complexity of its older siblings.

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