Kahlua is a cream-based coffee flavored liqueur. Chances are that if you’ve been both a fan of coffee and above legal drinking age for a while, you’ve either heard of it or tried it for yourself.
I always like to have at least one unopened bottle in my kitchen at all times. It’s just so versatile! It can be used in a bunch of my favorite cocktails – Espresso martini, White Russian, Black Russian and, of course, the Kahlua Mudslide.
Long story short – like me, you should always have a Kahlua bottle to hand in your kitchen!
All of that said then, how long can you keep it for? Does Kahlua go bad? Unfortunately, the answer is yes – it will keep for about four years though!
Read on to learn everything you need to know about the shelf life of this coffee liqueur.
Does Kahlua Go Bad?
Kahlua, like any other commercial food product, does indeed go bad.
However, it doesn’t go bad in the traditional sense. It won’t go moldy or smell rancid, but it will decline in quality as time goes on.
This, for an alcoholic drink, is really what “going bad” means.
How Long Does Kahlua Last?
So, exactly how long does Kahlua last?
The manufacturer recommends that you use it within four years of being bottled. Whether it’s unopened Kahlua or it’s been opened, this general recommendation is the same – it’s four years either way. Additionally, the way a bottle is stored doesn’t affect this, either.
That being said, if we’re being technical, we could say that it doesn’t “go bad” at all. What I mean is that because it doesn’t go rancid, it won’t cause the same kind of harm that other expired products do. Theoretically, your bottle of Kahlua could still be just fine after 6 years.
For maximum flavor and freshness, though, you should consume an opened bottle of Kahlua as soon as possible. A bottle that has been open for a week will taste better than one that’s been open for a year.
In addition, flavored Kahlua varieties often have shorter shelf lives. Instead of the standard four years for original Kahlua, flavors like French vanilla, hazelnut, and pumpkin have shelf lives around the 2-3 year mark.
Ready-to-drink Kahlua drinks like their bottled white Russian and mudslides are good for, on average, a year after production before they start to display signs of going bad. This is due to the fact that they contain other ingredients, many of which are more prone to spoilage.
How To Tell If Kahlua Has Gone Bad
Since the main flavor of Kahlua is coffee, and time causes the aromatic compounds of the brew to break down, one of the telltale signs that your Kahlua is past the recommended four years is when it becomes less fragrant.
So, the number one way to tell if your Kahlua has gone bad is by just smelling it. A weaker smell, or a lack of smell completely, indicates that the taste has diminished as well.
If your Kahlua smells like anything other than coffee or practically nothing, then it’s probably bad. For example, if you pop an unopened bottle that has been stored in the fridge to find that it smells sour, you’ll want to discard it because it’s likely been contaminated somehow, and what you’re smelling is bacteria growth from whatever got into your liquor and not actually the liquor itself.
Should your Kahua pass the sniff taste but you’re still unsure, go ahead and give it a try. If it tastes sour or “off” in the traditional sense, get rid of it. If the coffee flavor is less noticeable and it tastes more like nothing, you can still use it if you really want to. It won’t hurt you, it just won’t be a great addition to your cocktail.
If you notice that your Kahlua has started to separate, you can mix it back together by gently tipping the bottle end to end. Just make sure that the lid is on securely!
Another subtle sign that your Kahlua has reached the end of its regular lifespan, is if you notice sugar crystals forming on the edge of the bottle. This happens with age.
How To Store Kahlua
Kahlua storage is just about as versatile as the drink itself. It can be kept both in the fridge and on the counter or in the cupboard. There’s no rule as to where you have to store Kahlua, which makes harboring a collection of bottles for a rainy day incredibly easy.
As with any liquor, it’s best to store your Kahlua in a dark place that’s free of moisture. It’s also best practice to leave it in its original bottle and to reuse the same lid when resealing. It’s a good idea to note when deciding where to store your Kahlua, that it’s best when served chilled.
In addition, it can be stored both standing up or lying down.
When resealing your open bottle, whether you’re storing it in the cupboard or the fridge, ensuring that the lid is air-tight is crucial. The compounds within the liquor that gives it its flavor are sensitive to air exposure and will break down more quickly than normal when left exposed to oxygen.
One minor cheat for this is the general idea that the more liquor is in the bottle, the better when it comes to storing. Why? Well, this is because when there’s a lot of liquid, there’s less room for oxygen.
Can You Freeze Kahlua?
You may be under the impression that alcohol can’t freeze. While that’s not quite true – alcohol does have a very high freezing point that surpasses the level of what the average household freezer can do – most liquors can be stored in the freezer without issue.
Kahlua, however, is another story.
Unlike hard spirits such as vodka, Kahlua is a combination of sugar, alcohol, and coffee. This means that the alcohol content in the drink won’t freeze, but the sugar and coffee can.
Ultimately, this can lead to Kahlua that has been stored in the freezer becoming thick and hard to pour.
Is it Safe To Drink Old Kahlua?
Yep! It’s perfectly safe to drink old Kahlua of the original variety. The only thing you might notice is that it doesn’t taste as strong as it would have when it was first bottled.
One caveat here is in the case of contamination. So, again, if your Kahlua smells or tastes sour or has mold growth, it’s been contaminated and is no longer safe to consume.
Also, pre-made Kahlua cocktail drinks and flavored varieties are riskier when it comes to consumption after their marked expiry date.
In fact, it can be dangerous to consume them as they might contain dairy products, which we all know are terrible not only in taste when they go bad, but also for your health.