How long does Kahlua last? I know that the shelf life of neat spirits like gin, vodka, and whisky is almost endless, but what about flavored liqueurs like Kahlúa? Actually, it’s not too bad – around four years after it’s bottled.
Okay, I admit it. I am a coffee freak. If I don't get my daily ration, I begin to suffer caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Not a pretty sight. Still, I can always reach for my bottle of Kahlúa for quick relief.
But it's not that often that I revert to Kahlúa for a quick fix, so although I've always got a bottle hanging around in my drinks cabinet, it doesn't get used that often, which made me ask the question - how long does it keep?
Decoding the lot code of Kahlúa
Bottles of spirit don't have best by dates plastered all over them. Instead, they usually have a lot code printed on the label.
If you take a peek at the label on the back of a bottle of Kahlúa, you should find a code along the bottom edge. It might look something like - L5173H11243.
The first four digits are the giveaway which is 5173. The first number - 5 - represents the last digit of the year the spirit was bottled. - in this case, 5 = 2015.
The next three numbers relate to the day of the year. In this example, the 173rd day of the year was the 22nd of June. You can learn more about their lot number here.
Facts about the shelf life of Kahlúa
According to the Kahlúa website, the original flavor Kahlúa has a shelf life of 4 years.
But what about the others? Kahlúa produces several varieties of their famous coffee liqueur, including:
- Blond Roast
- Chili Chocolate
- Mint Mocha
They even sell it canned - Esspreso Martini Can. The shelf life of the above various flavors is given as two years, while the ready-to-drink varieties are declared as one year.
You can drink it beyond these given shelf life durations. It doesn't suddenly turn bad. However, the flavor will begin to degrade.
As a rule of thumb, the shorter the shelf-life, the quicker you ought to drink it.
Many people report that Kahlúa (the original flavor) is still very palatable after 8 or 10 years, while the flavored ready-to-drink varieties are okay for up to three or four years.
Also worth keeping in mind is once a bottle has been opened, the degradation process will quicken a little.
The best way of storing Kahlúa
Regarding the best way to store Kahlúa, what I am about to tell you applies to all flavor varieties.
How to store Kahlua (Unopened)
- As with rum, an unopened bottle of Kahlúa is best stored in a cool dark place.
- If you have one, a pantry or cellar is ideal, but a kitchen cabinet away from any heat sources will suffice if you haven't.
Storing Opened Kahlua
- You can, of course, keep it in your fridge if you have room, but it's not necessary - that is unless you want to enjoy a frequent tipple.
- When you've finished pouring, it's best to reseal the bottle tightly with its original cap. Keeping it tightly sealed helps to retain that gorgeous taste of coffee.
It also helps prevent oxidizing as this will decrease the alcohol content and may cause it to discolor a little.
How to tell if Kahlúa has gone off?
As with other liqueurs like Ameretto, Frangelico, and Sambuca, Kahlúa is not likely to go off in any way that makes it unsafe to drink.
But of course, it won't keep forever.
Signs to look for:
1 Diluted smell and flavor
Kahlúa that is in good condition will have a strong aroma of rum and coffee beans.
If it's not immediately detectable when you open the bottle, it may be time to throw it away.
2 Look out for signs of mold
These signs only usually happen if you expose your bottle of Kahlúa to too much heat.
If you spot some sugar crystals around the opening of the bottle, it is an indicator that Kahlúa is beginning to deteriorate. However, it is still quite safe to drink.
When Kahlúa has been opened, resealed, and left to stand for a while, it can settle and separate. Don't worry. It doesn't mean it's gone off.
Just give it a quick shake, à la Tom Cruise, cocktail waiter-style, and pour.
How long is Kahlua good for once opened?
An opened bottle of Kahlúa still has the same shelf life as an unopened one. So don't throw an opened bottle away in haste.
However, please bear in mind that an opened bottle will deteriorate more quickly after its shelf life than one that hasn't been opened.
If the flavor of your Kahlúa is not quite as strong, it can still work reasonably well in cocktails like a white or black Russian.
What exactly is Kahlúa?
Let's start with the name. The word Kahlúa comes from the Nahuatl language, an indigenous tribe of the Veracruz region of Mexico.
It translates as "the house of the Acolhua people," a race that was related to the Aztecs.
Kahlúa is a distinct, coffee-flavored liqueur, first made by Pedro Domecq, in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1936.
Just four years later, in 1940, it was exported into the United States for the first time. The rest, as they say, is history. It is now one of the US's favorite liqueurs and the world's No 1 coffee liqueur.
Made with 100% Arabica coffee beans, Kahlúa also contains corn syrup, vanilla beans, rum (traditionally made from sugar cane), and vodka. It takes up to seven long years to make.
It is delicious on its own, or in one of many cocktails, including:
- Black Russian
- Kahlua Jump Up Julep
- White Russian
There are many other cocktails too, which you can check out on the classic drinks page of the Kahlúa website. It also mixes very agreeably with Amaretto, the sweet Italian liqueur.
Interestingly it was one of the Kahlúa cocktails, the B52 shot, which helped spread the fame of the coffee liqueur. This sweet, creamy cocktail consisted of Kahlúa, Irish cream liqueur, and orange liqueur.
It was created by a Canadian bartender at the Banff Springs Hotel in the late 1970s and soon became a favorite with guests who spread its appreciation with others when they moved on.
An interesting point for the ladies
Did you know that once upon a time, the Kahlúa company was led by women? It's true. It was during the 1960s, and it created a media sensation.
Back in those days, it was virtually unheard of for any large corporation to be completely led by women, particularly in the alcohol-producing arena. So there you are, guys - put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Interesting recipes using Kahlua
- Super Easy Tiramisu Recipe
- Super Smooth Instant Pot Flan
- Vietnamese Coffee Ca Phe Sua Da
- Classic Ihop Copycat French Toast
Frequently asked questions
Yes, Kahlúa is made with 100% fresh Arabica coffee beans and therefore contains caffeine, completely unaffected by the alcohol.
Content-wise, the original Kahlúa has 100 PPM of caffeine, which equates to approximately 5 mg for each 1.5-ounce shot. It’s not hugely significant but is nonetheless declared on the label.
In comparison, an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains 200 mg of caffeine instead of only 27 mg in an equivalent amount of Kahlúa.
At the beginning of this article, I made a little crack about turning to Kahlúa to make up for a shortage of caffeine. It was a joke.
I’d have to drink a bottle full of the stuff and probably wouldn’t be able to stand up afterward. Hmm – maybe that’s not a bad thing after all!!??
Original Kahlúa has a 20% alcohol content. However, Kahlúa Especial, which was launched in 2002, carries a higher alcohol kick at 34%.
No, they shouldn’t. The ready-to-drink variations of Kahlúa contain milk concentrates or proteins.
But the manufacturers also explicitly state that the original Kahlúa is not vegan friendly without going into any details as to why this should be so.
This is something of a controversial subject. Kahlua does contain what is described as a “neutral grain spirit,” which comes from wheat.
However, during the distillation process, the gluten protein is neutralized, so it should be safe for vegans to drink in theory.
All of the other ingredients in Kahlúa are gluten-free, but some people with gluten sensitivity are sick when they drink it, and some are not.
Therefore, if you do have a problem with gluten, you are recommended not to drink Kahlúa. If you suspect that you do have a problem with gluten, please click here to be taken through to a guide that you might find helpful.
Kamora is another coffee-flavored liqueur that can be used as an alternative to Kahlúa and is cheaper. Another alternative is Copa De Oro.
They are both a little sweeter than Kahlúa, but other than that, the taste is quite similar, and you would be hard-pressed to tell them apart when mixed in cocktails like a black or white Russian.
Just one thought. If you’re going down a Kahlúa cheap alternative route, I suggest you do the same with vodka if you’re mixing the two in a cocktail.
Rather than using something expensive like Absolut vodka with a cheap Kahlúa taste alike, you may as well go the whole hog and use a cheap vodka such as Popov.