If you’ve ever had Kahlúa in your home bar, you know it’s one of those bottles you don’t use very often. Fortunately, liquor doesn’t (technically) expire.
But what about liquors? They are, after all, more than just alcohol. In the case of Kahlúa, it’s a coffee liqueur made with coffee and sugar. But does Kahlúa expire?
If your bottle of Kahlúa has been sitting in your cabinet for a while, will it go bad? Can you drink it if it has gone bad? And more importantly, how can you tell if it has gone bad?
What’s the difference between expiring and going bad?
We often use the terms going bad and expiration interchangeably but are they the same thing? Not exactly.
The expiration date states the last day a product is safe to consume. These products don’t go bad as soon as the date hits, but they have a very short time before mold or bacteria take over. Suffice to say that a product should not be consumed after its expiration date.
If you take a look at a Kahlúa bottle, you won’t find an expiration date. That’s because it, like most spirits, don’t go bad in a traditional sense, but rather lose quality, taste, and smell. In the case of Kahlúa, we are dealing with a product that “goes bad” over time.
When a product goes bad it means our standards of that product have diminished. A product could be said to have gone bad because of its diminished quality or characteristics, but still be safe to consume.
Can a Bottle of Kahlúa Expire?
Kahlúa is an alcoholic product so it has a long shelf life. The alcohol in Kahlúa gives the product a self-preserving property so it should be good for a long time. However, given enough time, Kahlúa will eventually go bad, because it will diminish in flavor and quality.
What is the shelf life of a Bottle of Kahlúa?
Kahlúa’s parent company recommends that it be consumed within four years of the production date. Not from when the bottle is opened, But from when the bottle was factory sealed. You can find this information on their official website.
Below is an excerpt of a forum in which an official Kahlúa team member explains how to find out if your bottle has gone bad.
“To find out when your bottle of Kahlúa was produced please read the Lot code which is printed on the bottom edge of the label on the backside of the bottle. You will find a code consisting of numbers and letter e.g. L3043FJ 12:01. The code in this example stands 12th of February 2013. The second character in the example “3” indicates the last digit of the year it was produced. The following 3 digits indicate the day in the year (Julian date) and the last 4 digits indicate the time of day.”
Kahlúa Is a coffee liqueur, so its main ingredient is coffee. After sitting on the shelf for who knows how long, the Kahlúa will begin to get stale and the aroma of the coffee will begin to degrade. And as the smell goes, so does the tase. Therefore, the easiest way to check if your bottle of Kahlúa has expired is by giving it a whiff. If it smells like Starbucks, you should be good to go. If it smells a little flat, then it’s likely time to buy a new bottle.
Given the alcoholic properties in Kahlúa, it’s unlikely that an old bottle will harbor harmful bacteria or other pathogens, but it’s still possible. This is why it’s important to pay attention to any foul smells. Is it a weak coffee smell, or a slightly sour scent? If it’s the latter, this may be an indicator that your bottle of Kahlúa has been contaminated and should not be consumed.
Don’t forget to check for any visual signs of contamination. Look all around the bottle, especially the lid for any funky mold or growths that could have found a home in your bottle.
How to Properly store a bottle of Kahlúa
Like most liquor bottles, Kahlúa should be stored in a cool, dark place far from heat or sunlight. You can store Kahlúa in a refrigerator, but if you’re doing so to extend its shelf life, you can forget about it. Storing Kahlúa in a refrigerator will not extend its shelf life; at least not to any notable degree.
And If you think keeping your bottle in the freezer to preserve it is a good idea, it’s not. Most home freezers do not have the capacity to fully freeze alcohol, rendering it a thick slushy mess that becomes difficult to pour. The main takeaway is that you should never store your Kahlúa bottles in a freezer. That’s not to say you aren’t allowed to chill a bottle. Just don’t set it and forget it. You might not want to come back to it.
The best thing you can do to preserve your bottle of Kahlúa, or indeed any bottle, is to ensure that the lid is tightly sealed. This will help prevent flavor degradation and preserve the coffee aroma. This will also prevent the alcohol from oxidizing.
If you need to use an older bottle of Kahlúa (less than four years old), remember that it, like most things, will eventually start to settle after a while. So before you serve that cocktail, remember to flip it upside down a few times to wake it up, sort of speak. But don’t shake it! Just let it gently wake itself up. And for god’s sake, make sure that the lid is tightly sealed!
I was once like you. Contemplating a Kahlúa purchase; concerned about how often I’d get to use it. But not that you know all about the shelf life of Kahlúa, you know that you can have a bottle around for years before it goes bad. After all, you’d rather have it and not need it, than need it, and not have it, right?
So how do you store your bottle of Kahlúa? let me know in the comments. If you liked this post, you can check out our other posts by clicking here. And as always stay home and get hammered.
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Sadly, I don’t know if the bottle was made in 2014 or 2004. Either way, it’s time to go by 2021.
I should probably also go through my bar and throw out all the liqueurs and vermouth bottles that have been sitting there for years 🙂
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I have an unopened bottle of Kahlua from the 90’s that looks like Buddha.
Hey Sue :). That sounds awesome. Send us a picture and we can put it up on our insta story!
If I used expired Kahula in a dessert will it be safe for kids to eat
Does the alcohol content decrease over time
Hey Carol, the Alcohol content won’t decrease over time. The safety of it, however, depends on how long it’s been expired and how old your kids are. If the bottle has been expired for over 3 months and your kids are fairly young (i.e not older teenagers) I wouldn’t recommend using it. It might get them sick if their stomachs can’t handle it.
I have a bottle of Kahlua that is at least 22 years old (I know when it was acquired). It still tastes delicious.
The lot # on my Kahlua is L9073FA1459, is it safe to drink? I dont know if the 9 represents 2009 or 2019? It is unopened, has been kept in fridge. Thank you
deciphering the code escapes me……..lol ; the code on my Kahlua Christmas flavors is L1237FA2224 . Can someone please tell me when these bottles were made and how long they are good for . Thank you,
what if your bottle doesn’t have a code? It’s 24 oz. code on glass bottom a forward and backward J. then 4c 15 then 19 then 04.I know it’s at least 20 years old
It is definitely August 25, at 10:24pm. The year could be ’01, ’11, or ’21. Don’t know if the L means 2000 or if that just happens to be where it was made. Got the date from the chart above.
Hope this helps a little. I’m trying to figure out when mine was made as the label has peeled off.
My comment above was supposed to be a reply to Cindy Jayne Merritt. (August 25 at 1024pm.)