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Can Tequila Go Bad?

If you’ve found an old bottle of tequila stored for a couple of years already, you probably wonder “can tequila go bad?”.

As it is one of the distilled spirits, chances of it going bad are close to zero. Unless you’ll really want it to go bad (and help start the process), it will be safe to drink for years. The thing to remember here is that it doesn’t necessarily mean it will remain of best quality for many year.

If you would like to learn a little about storing tequila, its shelf life and other related issues, read along!

Woman drinking glass of tequila

Storing tequila

Like almost any other alcohol (besides some liqueurs), tequila should be stored in a cool and dry area. Therefore, the pantry seems to be the best possible choice, but if you don’t plan to open the bottle within the next few weeks or months, you can store it in the cellar (if there’s not enough space in the pantry).

After opening the bottle please remember that you should always keep the bottle tightly sealed when not in use. Don’t ever store it with a pourer on or without its cap.

Bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila
(credit: Fidel Fernando)

Tightly sealed bottle ensures two things. First – any impurities won’t be able to find their way into the bottle. Second – if the bottle stays opened without its cap, the liquid evaporates quicker than when it’s sealed. Because alcohol evaporates quicker than water, your tequila will slowly become milder with time (after opening the bottle for the first time).

One more trick when it comes to storing the spirit – when the bottle is less than half full and you won’t consume the rest of its contents within a couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to pour the liquid into a smaller bottle. More air in the bottle equals faster evaporation and oxidation, both of them causing the quality of tequila to slowly deteriorate.

Few  glasses of tequila
(credit: KittyKaht)

Shelf life of tequila

First thing that not everyone is familiar with is that spirits, unlike wines, don’t age after being bottled. That means that storing tequila for years won’t make its taste better.

When it comes to shelf life of tequila, it’s basically indefinite, as long as its seal isn’t compromised. If you store an unopened bottle in the pantry for quite a few years now, you can be almost sure that it’s fine now and it should be of great quality.

After the bottle is opened for the first time, it’s recommended to drink tequila within a couple of months, when its quality is still at its best.

As mentioned earlier, the quality of tequila slowly deteriorates over time after opening the bottle. Because of that, storing an opened bottle for a year or two might not be the best idea. You might simply dislike its taste after that period of time and be forced to discard the drink.

How to tell if tequila is bad

As mentioned earlier, tequila stays safe to drink for years. Unless you really want it to go bad and add some impurities into the bottle, so bacteria might slowly develop (tequila is a pretty difficult environment for microorganisms to develop in), it won’t technically go bad (spoil).

But just to be safe, before drinking tequila that was opened before and stored for a long time, take a closer look at the liquid (if there aren’t any impurities in the bottle), smell it and eventually taste a little.

If it doesn’t look like it supposed to, smells off or tastes awful, discard it. As mentioned before, that’s an extremely rare situation, so it’s much more likely it won’t just taste as good as you’d expect it to and you might decide to throw it away.

Bottle of Gran Orendain tequila and two shot glasses
(credit: Anya Smith)

As you should know by now, tequila technically can go bad, but if you’ll store it properly, it will last years.