Does bottled tequila go bad?

Answered by Rodney Landry

As an expert sommelier and brewer, I can confidently say that bottled does not technically go bad in the same way that perishable foods do. However, its quality and taste can deteriorate over time, especially once the bottle has been opened.

When tequila is unopened, it has an indefinite shelf life. This means that if stored properly, it will not spoil or become unsafe to consume. The high content in tequila acts as a natural preservative, preventing the growth of bacteria or other microorganisms. So, if you happen to stumble upon a decades-old, unopened bottle of tequila in your grandfather's liquor cabinet, it should still be safe to drink.

However, once a bottle of tequila is opened, it is exposed to oxygen and begins to interact with its environment. This can lead to changes in smell, flavor, and appearance over time. It is generally recommended to consume the tequila within one year after opening for the best experience.

The most noticeable change in opened tequila is in its aroma. Initially, you may enjoy the vibrant and complex scents that are characteristic of tequila, such as citrus, agave, and spice. However, as time goes on, the aroma can become dull and less pronounced. This is due to the evaporation of volatile compounds that contribute to the tequila's distinctive scent.

In terms of flavor, opened tequila may also experience a decline. The interaction with oxygen can cause certain compounds to break down, resulting in a less vibrant taste. The once smooth and balanced flavors may become muted or even develop off-notes. This can be particularly evident in aged tequilas, which rely on the interaction between the spirit and the oak for flavor development.

Appearance-wise, tequila may also change over time. It is not uncommon for tequila to develop sediment or cloudiness, especially if it has been stored in fluctuating temperatures or exposed to sunlight. While this may not necessarily impact the taste, it can affect the overall visual appeal of the tequila.

To ensure that you enjoy the best quality tequila, it is important to store it properly. Keep the bottle tightly sealed and store it in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations. This will help slow down the oxidation and preserve the tequila's flavor and aroma for as long as possible.

While bottled tequila does not technically go bad, it can experience a decline in quality, smell, flavor, and appearance once opened. To fully enjoy the vibrant and complex characteristics of tequila, it is best to consume it within a year after opening. Proper storage can help prolong the peak quality of an opened bottle of tequila, ensuring a delightful drinking experience.