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Can Kahlua Go Bad? (And How To Tell)

Quick Answer

Kahlua can go bad, due to it having a higher sugar content and a lower alcohol percentage than a lot of long lasting spirits.

However, this doesn’t mean that the Kahlua spoils, it’s just after a certain period normally – after 4 years – it starts to taste off and over time it continues to degrade, until it will finally spoil after many years.

When you have a home of your own, there is going to come a time when you get a little drinks cupboard or a small area that is just for your own drinks.

These areas are one of those things that make your home feel less like temporary accommodation and more like a home in general.

The drinks in these areas are these for a very long time normally, as alcohol can last for ages if it is stored right.

Can Kahlua Go Bad

However, while this is true for the standard spirits – even after they are opened – like whiskey and vodka, it can get a little more confusing when it comes to sweetened drinks.

For example, Kahlua. If you keep Kahlua for a long time, can Kahlua go bad? Or will it stay drinkable for a long time to come? In this article, we seek to find this out.

What Is Kahlua?

Kahlua is a type of alcohol called a liqueur, specifically a coffee liqueur that contains rum, sugar, and arabica coffee.

This makes a deliciously sweet and thick drink that can be put into various other drinks to change their texture and flavor.

For example, coffee liqueur with vodka and milk makes a white Russian, which is an incredibly creamy, smooth, and sweet cocktail that is beloved.

The drink is made and owned by the Pernod Ricard company, a French company, in Veracruz, Mexico, but was created before the company took control by a local family.

The name of the drink ‘Kahlua’ was from the Veracruz dialect of the Nahuatl language, which means ‘House of the Acolhua People’.

The drink has become increasingly popular over recent years, especially as its use in cocktails and other drinks has grown.

The easy import of the drink to the United States and the prominent drinking culture within America, means that it has continued to be steadily imported and grown in supply and monetary value.

This love of Kahlua has also spread throughout the world, from the United Kingdom to even incredibly faraway places like Australia.

It has even become a key ingredient in many cocktails, meaning that it now has to be imported to keep making those drinks.

Can Kahlua Go Bad?

Unfortunately, Kahlua can go bad like many different liqueurs.

When you store whiskey or vodka, the reason it keeps for many years is the insanely high alcohol content of the booze – being between 35% and 50% normally – and the fact that they don’t contain many sugars.

The hostile environment of the alcohol, which can kill bacteria easily, and the lack of available sugars to feed on means that these drinks have an insanely low chance of cultivating bacteria which can spoil the drink.

Kahlua Go Bad

However, Kahlua is a liqueur and liqueurs have a lower alcohol percentage and are often filled with sugars.

The alcohol percentage of Kahlua is around 16% to 20%, which is much lower than spirits and with all the sugars in it, it means that it has a higher chance of going off.

Now, that isn’t to say that Kahlua will spoil or develop mold as it still has a high alcohol percentage and will kill most bacteria, but over time the quality of the alcohol itself will begin to decrease, and you will notice this when you drink it.

The manufacturer’s instructions for drinking Kahlua are that it should be consumed within four years of its bottling and production date, regardless of whether the bottle has been opened or not.

This doesn’t mean that it will be bad, or that you can’t drink it after this period, but it definitely will not taste like it did before.

How To Tell If Kahlua Has Gone Bad?

The best way to check if Kahlua has gone bad is to smell it.

The main ingredient that gives Kahlua its distinctive flavor is that of coffee and when coffee starts to go bad, the aromatic properties of the coffee begin to break down, and it will begin to smell off.

These properties that break down will also directly affect taste as well.

Since taste and smell are so intimately linked, then the taste of the Kahlua will also probably not be right and will be a bit flat as a result.

It is highly unlikely – as we mentioned before – but should your Kahlua be old or should it not be prepared correctly, then a bacterial growth can happen.

If you begin to smell sour odors or very off odors from your Kahlua, bin it immediately. It means that a bacterial infection has taken hold and is not infecting the bottle.

This happens more often when the bottle is open, as over time alcohol can evaporate and the more alcohol that evaporates, the more the ratio of sugar to alcohol changes, and the more inviting and welcoming the environment is for bacteria.

However, this normally takes many, many years, and it only really happens to forgotten Kahlua bottles left in the back of a cupboard.

How To Store Kahlua?

Kahlua should be stored in a cool, dark place that is away from direct sunlight or direct heat.

It is best to store it in a cupboard that is away from strong-smelling food, but you can also store it on the shelf of a refrigerator – though storing in a fridge will not make it keep for longer, it will just make it easier to store, and it might taste better chilled.

If you want to use Kahlua to its maximum potential, then you should store it with the bottle completely sealed.

While you can drink Kahlua that is opened, the smell and taste of Kahlua will degrade over time, and so drinking it at its best is for the best.


Kahlua does go bad because it contains a fairly low alcohol content and lots of sugars, however it takes many years for the Kahlua to go bad and as long as you store the drink right, you should have very few problems in keeping your Kahlua tasting great for many years.

Jess Smith