Neat, in cocktails, or in desserts, Kahlua is a delicious Mexican mix of rum, sugar, and Arabica coffee.
However, Kahlua’s probably not one of those things you’re reaching for on a daily basis. Instead, you’re probably here because you’ve found an old bottle and you’re wondering:
Has this gone bad? How do you even store Kahlua?
Here’s the answer: Kahlua definitely goes bad, unlike hard spirits, but it takes years. Instead, you’re likely to have Kahlua that may have degraded in quality. To avoid degradation, you should reseal your bottle tightly after use and store in a cool cupboard or refrigerator.
How To Tell If Your Kahlua Is Off
First thing’s first. The good news is that your Kahlua is unlikely to be off due to its high alcohol content, but it may have degraded in quality. You can use Kahlua that’s degraded a bit mixed in with other drinks, so you’re not able to tell.
As long as there’s no mold on the bottle, your Kahlua is probably either good or degraded but not actually unsafe to drink.
To check for degradation, look for a change in color, smell for weird odors, and check for a difference in taste. Any of these signs and your Kahlua won’t be particularly nice to drink. However, if these changes are only mild, you can use Kahlua as an ingredient in other drinks.
How To Store Kahlua
Whichever flavor of Kahlua you have, the storage remains the same.
Unopened or opened Kahlua should be kept in a cool, dark place, like a pantry or refrigerator. If your refrigerator is always full but you want your Kahlua chilled, put a portion’s worth in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.
Only refrigerate how much you need if your bottle is usually stored in the pantry or cupboard, as temperature fluctuations can affect the texture of your Kahlua.
One last thing: once you’ve opened your Kahlua, make sure you reseal it.
How Long You Can Expect Your Kahlua To Last
Here’s a handy way to tell when your bottle of Kahlua was manufactured. On the bottom of the label, you’ll find a lot number. Look at the first five digits:
- The first digit indicates the last year of the production year. That means 5 means 2015, 6 means 2016, and 9 means 0 means 2020.
- The last three numbers represent the day in the year. For example, 135 would mean the 135th day of the year, which would be May 15th on a non-leap year.
Now you know when your bottle of Kahlua was made, you need to know about the shelf life. Unopened regular Kahlua will remain at top quality for 4 years after it’s been made, flavored Kahlua will last for 2 years, and ready-to-drink Kahlua will last for 1 year. After these points, your Kahlua will start to degrade in quality, but it will still be safe to drink for an extra 50% of its designated shelf life.
For example, unopened ready-to-drink Kahlua should be okay for another 6 months.
Now: once your bottle of Kahlua is open, the degradation process accelerates, so you should regularly check for signs it’s going bad.
The 411 On Kahlua
Don’t expect your Kahlua to last forever, like your hard spirits. To stay on the safe side, you should use regular Kahlua within 4 years, flavored Kahlua within 2 years, and ready-to-drink Kahlua within 1 year.