Aged coffee syrup, anyone?
March 17, 2011 8:07 PM   Subscribe

Is our bottle of Kahlua still good? We opened it four years ago (on St. Patrick's Day, actually) and promptly forgot about it. It's sat on a high shelf at a fairly constant temperature. It's about 80 percent full. It still smells OK. Wasn't going to taste it without input from the hive.
posted by Happydaz to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you actually poured any of it out of the bottle? I've seen it curdle after so much time has passed even though it smelled okay.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:08 PM on March 17, 2011

There isn't any chance that bacteria have grown in it. There's too much alcohol for that (assuming the cap was tightly closed that whole time).
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:14 PM on March 17, 2011

Ugh, sorry for some reason I was thinking Baileys in my head, damn sleeping pills. I did a little googling and it seems like the shelf life is 2 - 4 years according to a few different sources. But it also said that it doesn't actually go bad, it's just the taste could be a little off after so much time. If it tastes okay to you and doesn't smell bad, I'd go for it.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:15 PM on March 17, 2011

Best answer: Since Kahlua doesn't have any cream in it, I would totally drink it if it were me.

Pour a little into a glass. If it still is syrupy (but not sludgy), and clear (but not cloudy), have a sip and see what you think. Should still be fine in mixed drinks like White Russians.

You're really not likely to poison yourself, although you might find in the worst case that it tastes a little off. Just wipe the sugar crusties off the lip of the bottle with a damp paper towel.

(why, yes, I do have very old liqueurs and cordials sitting around, why do you ask?)
posted by pineapple at 8:16 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

Also, if you don't want to drink it, Kahlua is good in baking.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:18 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

It'll be fine.

(presuming it hasn't crystallised)
posted by pompomtom at 8:40 PM on March 17, 2011

Best answer: Should be fine; might have a slightly lower alcohol percent, though.

If poured into a glass it looks like viscous but silky smooth coffee? It's most likely fine for consumption. The other ingredients aren't going to breakdown into anything dangerous. The alcohol will have prevented microbial growth. If it wasn't tightly closed, there might be some oxidation causing changes in taste; tightly closed and at 80% full (compared to, say, 20%) there isn't enough oxygen in there to do a lot of damage, so to say.

Scotch is kept in casks for up to 18+ years. Then bottled. Once bottled, occasionally consumed over hours to years. Kahlua is even kept in a dark glass bottle, so any chance of photonic oxidation is very much reduced. Being kept at a "not low" temperature will only speed up oxidation and perhaps molecular breakdown; in this situation, it shouldn't be a problem.

One question; when you first twisted the cap open, did you notice any pressure coming out (ie., the inside of the bottle had more pressure than ambient)? If you did... ditch it. If there wasn't, you're most likely good. If the inside of the bottle was pressurized then that suggests that there might be (enough) microbial activity going on (to cause gastrointestinal distress).
posted by porpoise at 9:25 PM on March 17, 2011

When in high school and looking for booze, I stumbled upon an unmarked homemade bottle of Kahlua, and had a few pulls. It was covered in dust in the back of the liquor cupboard. I found out that it was somewhere between 15 and 20 years old. It drank fine (and got me halfway to drunkass).
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:10 AM on March 18, 2011

This sounds like a job for!
Enjoy your kahlua indefinitely.
posted by mrsshotglass at 12:40 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

My parents never drink. As a result, there was a bottle of Kahlua in the kitchen pantry for, literally, 17 years. When I was 18 my girlfriend broke up with me and my Mom, trying to be sweet and bond with me, poured me the only drink in the house: The 17 year old Kahlua. I suffered no adverse effect.
posted by GilloD at 2:38 AM on March 18, 2011 [10 favorites]

Sounds like you've got a pretty conclusive answer - but yeah, I too grew up in a house where there were several years-old liqueurs in the cabinet (as opposed to whiskey bottles, which generally lasted about 2 days). Those crusty bastards were invaluable to me as an incipient boozer - but I'd challenge pineapple's advice about wiping the sugar crusties from the mouth of the bottle. That's like the best part, dude.
posted by Ted Maul at 3:04 AM on March 18, 2011

My friends and I always used to tell ourselves "No human pathogen can live in alcohol." but that was mainly to justify the disgusting conditions of the bars we drank in. Whether or not that is scientifically true is something I realize now I'm not entirely sure about.
posted by Bango Skank at 5:53 AM on March 18, 2011

posted by leapfrog at 9:33 AM on March 18, 2011

Funny, 30 minutes ago I was telling a coworker about the bottle of homemade Kahlua a my dad's secretary gave him in 1987 (back when people still had the job title of 'secretary'). We dug it out of a closet during Christmas because we needed some kahlua for a cheesecake recipe. We all tasted it first. It was totally fine, but a little too sweet. We don't know if it was too sweet because it got sweeter over time, or because it was overly sweet to begin with. (It was a gift from 23 years ago. Who can remember?)

It's fine. Don't worry about it.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:30 PM on March 18, 2011

This sounds like a job for!

You've just killed about half of AskMe.
posted by pompomtom at 6:01 AM on March 19, 2011

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