Does Kahlua Go Bad? Does It Expire?

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Coffee and alcohol, two of the world’s most famous liquids, are combined in to one tantalizing drink called Kahlua. Whether mixed with vodka and cream to make a White Russian, or simply drank on its own, Kahlua is king.

However, as a sugar-based liqueur, how long is Kahlua good for? Generally it’s good for 4 years but may be drinkable for many more. Read on to find out why.

Does Kahlua Expire?

Liquor, when stored under optimal conditions, can last for many, many years. In fact, the oldest drinkable champagne in the world was bottled in 1825 – just ten years later after the battle in Waterloo.

Vintages that are twenty to thirty years old are not uncommon, and there are wines that are specifically made to be aged for a long time. If you’ve heard of the expression, “aging like fine wine,” this is what it refers to.

However, Kahlua is different from base spirits like gin, vodka or whiskey. The latter ones can be stored almost indefinitely. Their alcohol content isn’t a viable breeding ground for bacteria, so there is no danger of spoilage.

drinks with kahlua

But Kahlua is sugar-based. It might have an alcohol content of 20% (according to home liquor maker Gunther Anderson, any alcoholic beverage with an alcohol content of 15% and up is safe from any sort of biological contamination, but it has lots of sugar. And sugar CAN spoil.

From here we can safely assume that Kahlua will not last indefinitely. Sure, it might stay okay for a few years after first opening, but it won’t last as long as spirits such as champagne or vodka.

How Long Does Kahlua Last?

There are varying accounts on the internet about the shelf life of Kahlua. Some people reported opening a seven-year-old bottle of Kahlua, and finding everything’s still okay taste-wise.

But in the interest of safety, it’s best to take advice directly from the manufacturers themselves.

As it stands, Kahlua’s shelf life is a question that has been asked countless of times on the official Kahlua forum. Asa Edlind, an official Kahlua representative, has an answer: four years.

While she mentioned that the product is still drinkable for many more years, the coffee impact and flavor will be diminished as time goes by.

How to Tell if Kahlua Has Gone Bad?​

The four years mentioned above is just a mere suggestion. If you don’t care much about getting the full-blown coffee flavor of Kahlua, you can still use it even if it’s way older than four years.

Just keep in mind that it won’t have that rich and strong of an impact as Kahlua that is freshly poured from a newly-opened bottle.

To determine whether Kahlua that has gone past its recommended four-year shelf life is still fit to drink, you need to use your own senses.

If it doesn’t taste like the Kahlua you’re used to, or it has a weird, “off” taste to it, then promptly throw it away.

Pour it out in a clear glass and see if you can spot discoloration or weird residue floating around.

Smell it! If the liquid gives off a weird smell then it’s probably high time to throw that bottle of Kahlua away.

And remember, even if the Kahlua looks and smells okay, your taste buds will ultimately be the judge of it.

How to Store Kahlua?​

Does Kahlua need to be refrigerated? Store Kahlua like you would any other spirit. Even though it’s sugar-based, it does not require refrigeration, even after opening.

As long as you keep it in a cool, dark, and dry place like a cabinet or cupboard, it should stay fine. Just keep it away from direct sunlight or places with excessive heat (this might hasten the spoiling process).

A dedicated wine cellar or liquor cabinet like the one being built in this video will work well. It provides ample protection from the elements and has a door to keep the sunlight out.

Another precaution you can do to prolong the life of Kahlua is to thoroughly wipe the cap before closing the bottle. This is to remove bacteria which might induce spoilage.​

Final Thoughts

Kahlua, like any other liquor, can be enjoyed for many years. However, utmost care is needed to ensure that what you’re drinking is safe. Always practice proper liquor storage practices.

Kahlua’s unique flavor is always best appreciated at its peak and you can’t experience that with Kahlua that has been improperly stored and gone bad.​

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.