If you’re craving for a delicious adult beverage, there’s no better way to scratch that itch than with a nice bottle of Kahlua.
You reach into your cupboard to make your favorite White Russian and find the bottle of Kahlua from a party you had last Christmas. As you grab the bottle and look for an expiration date, you might be wondering, “does Kahlua go bad?”
Whether you buy Kahlua regularly for yourself or you only get it every now and then for entertainment, knowing the shelf life of Kahlua is important.
What is Kahlua?
Kahlua is a rum-based liqueur that is meant to taste just like coffee. It is commonly used in alcoholic cocktails and is a great way to add some flavor and excitement to your cocktail parties.
Kahlua contains ingredients such as rum, vanilla bean, arabica coffee, and sugar. It first came on the scene in 1936 and is named after the Veracruz Nahuatl word of the same name, which means “House of the Acolhua people.”
The alcohol content of Kahlua is about 20%, although there are some special versions of Kahlua that offer a lower viscosity and a higher alcohol content. Because of this, they are usually less sweet, too.
Kahlua can be consumed by itself, usually neat or on ice, or it can be used in cocktails. It is often used in desserts and as a topping for ice cream, cheesecakes, and cakes, too. Since it’s made out of coffee beans, it also contains caffeine. Kahlua is used in some of the following popular cocktails:
- Espresso Martini
- White and Black Russians
- Baby Guinness
- Colorado Bulldog
- Spanish coffee
Kahlua Shelf Life
Kahlua doesn’t have the same long shelf life as other spirits, like whiskey, vodka, Tequila or rum. However, its shelf life might surprise you – it’s longer than you think.
Does Kahlua Expire?
To determine the shelf life of your Kahlua, start by determining its production date. Usually, this will be indicated on the back of the bottle, toward the lower edge of the label. The lot number will include a lengthy list that is a combination of letters and numbers.
The first four digits of this combination are what you need to pay attention to. The first four digits represent the year in which the Kahlua was bottled and sent to the stores.
Usually, you’ll see the letter L as the first in the sequence, which simply standards for “the last digit of the production year,” while the number immediately following that will represent the year. If the number is a 6, it means it was produced in 2016.
How Long Does Kahlua Last?
Once you know the production date, you can determine the shelf life. Original Kahlua has an average shelf life of four years, while Flavored Kahlua usually lasts around two years. Ready to Mix Kahlua has the shortest shelf life – it typically only lasts about a year.
What’s important to note is that these dates are better indicators of freshness and quality than they are of safety. You can easily use the liquor after these dates, but it won’t have the best possible flavors. Six-year-old Kahlua, if unopened, is probably safe to use, but it won’t taste as good as a bottle that’s brand new.
Once you open a bottle of Kahlua, these dates become expedited. If you have a bottle of four-year-old Kahlua that’s been open for three weeks, it’s not going to taste good as a fresh bottle that you just barely opened.
How to Store Kahlua
There are several types of Kahlua on the market, including Original, Flavored, and Ready-to-Drink. Luckily, you don’t need to memorize different storage rules for all three – storing any type of Kahlua is usually the same.
When you have an unopened bottle of this liquor, you can store it in any dark, cool place – just as you would a bottle of rum. Usually, a pantry, basement, or cellar is a great option, but you could even stash it in the back of the liquor cabinet for the kitchen cupboard, too. Just keep it cool.
You are more than welcome to store Kahlua in the refrigerator, but if it has not been opened, this is not necessary.
Does Kahlua Need to Be Refrigerated After Opening?
While unopened Kahlua can easily be stored in any cool, dry location, Kahlua that has been opened needs to be stashed in a colder environment.
Once your bottle of Kahlua has been open for a few hours, it needs to be moved to the refrigerator. Not only will it taste best chilled, but this also preserves its shelf life, too.
Make sure you seal your bottle using the original cap. This will provide the best possible seal.
There are people out there who will tell you that Kahlua does not need to be refrigerated after opening. Technically, this is true, as you won’t see a difference in how safe it is to drink if it is not refrigerated. However, if you use Kahlua on a regular basis, you are going to want to keep it in the fridge. Not only will it improve its taste and quality, but you won’t have to chill it before each serving, either.
How to Tell if Kahlua Has Spoiled
Like other common types of alcohol-based liqueurs (such as amaretto), it’s pretty uncommon for Kahlua to truly go bad.
The exception to this is if you are storing Kahlua for a lengthy period of time. If that’s the case, you will want to keep an eye out for common signs of spoilage like a strange smell, discoloration, bad taste, or even mold. If you notice these, get rid of the liqueur immediately.
As long as the Kahlua seems normal, you’re probably fine to give it a state. If it still has all of its original flavors and aromas, it’s perfectly safe to drink.
Kahlua, like many types of alcohol, often does not have an expiration date. Therefore, it can be difficult to determine whether it has actually gone bad or not. Instead of an expiration date, it might have a production date, a processing date, a packing date, or a bottling date that will tell you when the product was created.
Otherwise, most manufacturers recommend that Kahlua be consumed within four years of the production date.
A Mudslide is simply a drink that is commonly made with Kahlua and other ingredients. There are also premade Mudslide blenders that include ingredients such as nondairy creamers. These mixers go bad a bit more quickly than regular Kahlua, so you will want to pay attention to the dates on the labels. In addition, watch out for signs of spoilage like chunks and odors, too.
It is rare for any kind of liqueur or cordial to go bad. The alcohol and the sugar will both serve as preservatives. The brown glass of the bottle can also help keep you safe, as it will prevent sunlight or heat from wreaking havoc with the contents. At the very worst, you might get an upset stomach by drinking old Kahlua.
*Photo by dcwcreations/depositphotos