Tequila Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

Do you happen to have a dusty bottle of tequila sitting in your kitchen cabinet since only God knows when? You might be tempted to have a shot of tequila with lime and salt to refresh your day.

Are you still doubting if the old tequila is still safe to drink? Does tequila go bad?

As a hard liquor, tequila has a very long and stable shelf life. Although the chance of getting bad is extremely low, it is still possible for tequila to go bad.

Tequila will be safe to consume for a long time, let’s say years. But, one thing to keep in mind, it is best to drink during its peak quality. The quality won’t be the same after years since you open the bottle for the first time.

Let’s go through this article to find important information and answers to the most common questions about tequila shelf life: how to store tequila properly, how long tequila lasts, and most importantly how to tell if tequila has gone bad.

How to Store Tequila

Tequila is a liquor (or hard liquor) made from distilling the fermented juice of blue agave plants (Agave tequilana). It is exclusively produced in the Jalisco region, Western Mexico. This Mexican liquor contains approximately 40% alcohol by volume.

It is worthy to note that different alcoholic drinks have different proper storage methods. The best way to store a bottle of tequila is similar to other liquors, such as vodka and rum.

The rule of thumb for liquor storage is storing it in a dry, dark, cool place, away from sources of direct sunlight and heat. Your kitchen pantry or cabinet will do the job.

When not in use, don’t ever leave the bottle without its cap to prevent oxidation, evaporation, and any contaminants from entering the bottle.

Keep the bottle standing upright. Vertical bottle position prevents the liquor from touching the cap which may cause corrosion and subsequently degrades the flavor and quality.

When you have a small amount of tequila left in the bottle, it is advisable to transfer it into a smaller bottle. More air will speed up the oxidation and evaporation process which slowly degrades the quality of tequila.

How Long Does Tequila Last?

Contrary to popular belief that alcoholic drinks have an indefinite shelf life, the truth is alcoholic drinks have different shelf life due to different ingredients and processes.

The good news is, liquors – including tequila – are considered to have the longest and most stable shelf life compared to undistilled drinks such as beer.

On the other hand, cream liqueurs – sweetened and flavored liquor – which are frequently mistaken as regular liquor, such as Baileys Irish Cream, have a shorter shelf-life of only two years after the manufacturing date.

A sealed bottle of tequila is likely to last for years, with optimum storage. If you happen to find an unopened bottle of tequila in the pantry from your birthday party two years ago, you can rest assured that it is still likely safe to drink and in good quality, as long as the bottle is still perfectly sealed.

An opened bottle of tequila will stay good up to 6 – 8 months after opening. It is best consumed within this period when it still has the peak quality. After a year since first opening the bottle you may expect to notice a change in the taste and flavor.

How to Tell if Tequila is Bad

So, does tequila go bad? As mentioned in the previous section, tequila has an indefinite and stable shelf life. If you have an old bottle tucked away in your cabinet, it is still likely safe to drink. Although it is extremely unlikely, it is still possible for tequila to go bad, particularly with improper storage.

When it comes to food spoilage, always use your senses and check for general signs of spoilage. Check the look, smell, and taste.

Take a close look into the bottle. See if you spot any contaminants or impurities, especially if you leave your bottle open for a while.

If the liquid still looks perfectly fine, try to smell. If there is no off smell, taste a tiny amount.

If the taste is acceptable, you can always drink it. But, if the taste is not very appealing, you may consider mixing it into a cocktail, classic margarita or any cocktails of your preferences. Other ingredients will help to cover the taste of tequila.

However, if the taste is completely unacceptable or you find other signs of spoilage, it may be best to throw it away.


Does Tequila Rose go bad?

Tequila Rose is a slightly different product to tequila. While tequila is a liquor, Tequila Rose is a cream liqueur, a mixture of tequila and strawberry dairy cream.

Referring to its official website, Tequila Rose has no specified shelf life. However, since it contains dairy cream, it is best to keep in the fridge to extend the shelf life.

Is tequila gluten-free?

While many other alcoholic drinks are made of wheat and grains, premium tequila is made of the blue agave plants. So yes, it is gluten-free.

A cheaper version of tequila known as “mixto” is not 100% made of agave nectar and may contain gluten from other ingredients. Check the label for more detailed information.

How many calories are in tequila?

According to the USDA Database, one jigger of tequila (equal to 1.5 fl oz or ± 44 mL) with 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof) contains 94 calories.


Just like any other hard liquor, tequila has the longest and stable shelf-life compared to other alcoholic beverages. In other words, tequila does not expire.

However, you may expect a change in flavor or taste after a year since opening the bottle. It is best to drink tequila when it is still in its prime quality.

Although extremely rare, it is still possible for tequila to go bad when not stored properly. If the quality has become unfavorable, tastes awful, or signs of spoilage are observed, tequila is better to discard.

See also: What are the differences between Reposado and Añejo

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