Does Tequila Go Bad?

Does tequila go bad? Tequila is one of the distilled spirits, which basically means that it can go bad, but that’s very unlikely to happen. Unless, of course, you’ll personally decide to help it go bad. There are a few facts about storage and shelf life of tequila you might be interested in. Especially if you have a bottle or two of a very good tequila and you’re not quite sure whether it makes sense to store it for another couple of years or just drink it when you think the occasion is right.

How to store tequila

Storing tequila is quite simple – keep it in a cool, dry area. Probably the most important thing you need to do is to always keep it tightly closed when not in use. Tightly closed bottle protects the liquor from both evaporation and oxidation.

Evaporation is a problem because the substance that evaporates first is alcohol, so evaporation causes tequila to lose some of its alcohol content and, therefore, its strong flavor. Besides that, the lower the alcohol content in liquor, the bigger the possibility any kind of mold or bacteria will be able to infect it. Of course more than half of the alcohol content of tequila would need to be  evaporated to give even a slight chance to any kind of bacteria or mold to develop in that kind of environment. Oxidation is a more important problem. The air that reaches the liquid causes tequila to lose its unique flavor and aroma. So, that’s why it’s very important to always keep the bottle sealed tightly.

Label on the bottle of tequila
Image used under Creative Commons from fasteddy760

If you have an unopened bottle of tequila with a cork and notice evaporation (there is less tequila in the bottle than it used to be), probably the only thing you can do is to open the bottle and wrap the cork with a cling wrap to avoid further evaporation.

What is the shelf life of tequila?

This question might be a little tricky. Spirits, once they’re removed from casks and bottled, cease to mature and improve. They no longer age. That’s why storing tequila for a long time doesn’t make it more valuable. Once it’s bottled, it stays pretty much the same as in the moment it was bottled. So, if the quality of your tequila isn’t good enough and you’ve stored it properly, it was that way right from the beginning. In fact, quite a few seals will permit a minimal amount of air to pass into the bottle. That’s why some tequilas might very slowly lose their taste over the years.

So, let’s go back to the shelf life of tequila. Basically, it’s indefinite. Please note that once the seal is compromised (meaning the bottle has been opened at least once), it’s suggested to drink the tequila within several months. That’s the time when the liquor will be of its best quality. After opening the bottle, the flavor and aroma will slowly start to deteriorate. One more thing you should know – the less tequila in the bottle, the faster it deteriorates. So, if you plan to store a small amount of it for some time, I suggest you should at least pour it into a smaller bottle. This way you’ll slow down the deterioration (due to oxidation) process.

How to tell if tequila is bad

So, as I’ve mentioned earlier, tequila has basically an indefinite shelf life – it doesn’t go bad. However, if you will notice it has developed an off odor or any visual signs of spoilage (it’s almost impossible), discard it. You should also remember that if you’ve stored an opened bottle fo tequila for a long time, it might not taste as good as it used to. It won’t be bad, but you probably won’t want to drink it either.

So, as you probably know, tequila might go bad, but it’s very unlikely to happen. What’s more likely to happen is that once you’ll open the bottle, you’ll store it for too long and the liquor will lose some of its unique taste. So, you just should remember to store tequila in a cool area and drink it within a couple of months after opening the bottle.