Just add salt and lime! Tequila is a popular liquor that is a core ingredient in many alcoholic beverages, most notably the margarita. So you found a bottle of tequila at the back of your liquor cabinet leftover from your last get-together and just haven’t had a chance to drink it yet. The summer months are near and you’re planning your next backyard fiesta (and what drinks you’ll serve, of course) and you’re wondering – does tequila go bad?
Table Of Contents
- Does Tequila Go Bad?
- What is Tequila?
- How is It Made?
- What Are the Different Kinds?
- How to Store It for Maximum Freshness
- How Long Does It Last?
- Recipes That Pair Well
Does Tequila Go Bad?
The simple answer is no, tequila doesn’t go bad. Tequila is liquor and is considered shelf-stable. This means you won’t get sick from drinking spoiled tequila because it doesn’t spoil. Although drinking too much of it, or any alcohol, will make you sick. So avoid doing that and drink responsibly and in moderation.
Even though it doesn’t spoil, there’s much more you need to know about it to enhance your drinking experience. So continue on, dear reader!
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What is Tequila?
Tequila is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugars in the blue agave plant, called the Weber azul agave. This succulent plant grows in dry soils of Mexico in one of these five locations: Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, Tamaulipas, and the most famous, Jalisco, where most tequila is produced. The blue agave plant looks like an aloe vera plant with tall spiky leaves. If you love succulent plants, you can even get your own agave to add to your plant family.
Just like any alcoholic beverage, there are varying grades. Premium types are made from 100 percent Weber azul agave. Other kinds with lower percentages of agave contain other ingredients like corn syrup, molasses, or other sugars in place of agave nectar.
How is It Made
Once the blue agave plant reaches maturity, its leaves are removed to get to the center, called the pina, where the delicious agave nectar lies. Then, it’s extracted and transported to a processing facility to begin the transformation into tequila.
I know what you’re thinking…if you can grow your own agave plant, does that mean you can make your own? Maybe. But it’s best to leave it to the professionals. There’s a science and art to making good tequila and it takes time and patience. So just enjoy your beautiful succulent for its looks, and delight your taste buds with high-grade tequila from Mexico.
Ok, back to how to make tequila. The yeast eats the sugar in the blue agave during the fermentation process and transforms it into alcohol. Then, the alcohol is either bottled immediately or aged in wooden barrels – a process that gives the tequila a smoother taste and richer flavor!
The aging process results in different varieties of tequila. You’ve probably noticed that some bottles contain a light liquid while others are darker. This is the result of the aging process and it affects the color of the tequila, as well as the aroma, flavor, and ultimately the price per bottle. So it’s something you’ll want to consider depending on how you plan to drink it.
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What Are the Different Kinds of Tequila?
Tequila comes in three varieties, and each one has unique characteristics and flavor. While they’re all made from the same blue agave plant, the fermentation process varies, creating differences in the color and flavor of each type. This makes certain types better for mixed drinks, while others may be better suited for sipping. Here’s your guide to the different kinds of tequila and how to drink them.
Also called silver, plata or white because of its light color. This is the purest form of tequila, as it’s never aged in an oak barrel. Blanco tequila is an excellent choice for mixed cocktails since its boldness balances well with any type of mixer.
This type is aged in the barrel between two months and one year, so it’s also called rested or aged tequila. While resting in the barrel, the tequila develops a subtle gold hue as it absorbs tannins from the oak. The aging process gives it enough time to create a unique flavor profile without losing notes from the original agave juice. This is a popular choice for sipping neat over ice.
This type of tequila is aged between one and three years, which gives it an even richer flavor and darker caramel color. It makes for an excellent sipping experience and also pairs well with drinks that have a sweet, rich flavor and include notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, or nuts.
Well, if this name is any indication, this type of tequila is similar to Añejo, but just a little, well, extra. It brings an even darker color and richer flavor after aging for more than three years. This makes it quite strong, so it’s often mixed with purified water before bottling. Extra Añejo is the darkest variety that is pure agave (except for a bit of water) and not mixed with anything else, like the following type.
Often called gold tequila, this type is mixed with added sugar, colorings, flavorings, oak extracts, or glycerin, giving it a darker color. Some brands use a mix of different types, similar to blended scotches.
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How to Store Tequila for Maximum Freshness
So does tequila go bad? No, but there’s definitely a way to store it for prime quality!
Tequila is a distilled spirit with an indefinite shelf life and should be stored the same way you store vodka, rum, or any other hard liquor – keep upright and away from sunlight and heat in a dry, cool (or room temperature) area of the house such as a pantry. If you store your liquor in a cabinet, make sure it’s not above your stove because the heat from cooking may harm the quality.
Once you open your bottle, the oxidation process begins. This is when air meets the liquid and changes the compounds of the alcohol, which may result in an altered flavor with improper storage. Be sure to seal your bottle tightly when you’re done pouring. If you don’t plan to finish the bottle within a month or two, this becomes even more important. If not sealed properly, more oxygen gets into the bottle, and the more oxygen in the bottle, the faster the oxidation process. The oxidation process happens slowly, so if you have a tequila bottle sitting around for many months and it’s not sealed correctly, you may notice a difference in taste.
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How Long Does Tequila Last?
Unlike wine, which continues to age once bottled, the shelf life of tequila is indefinite and maintains the same properties as bottled until it’s opened. Once you open the bottle, the liquor remains at peak quality for about a year – as long as you store it properly.
If you’re not pleased with the quality, try a higher shelf brand for an enhanced flavor experience. Top shelf brands have likely been barrel-aged, making it smoother and more flavorful. Better tasting tequila also means a higher caliber of agave plant was used to make the alcohol.
Recipes That Pair Well With Tequila
The warmer months are upon us! Time to refresh your backyard deck and find great local patios. Enjoy hosting, going out, or enjoying your outdoor space with the family. These recipes will surely be a hit for your gathering.
These recipes are warm-weather friendly and pair nicely with your favorite tequila – in whatever form you decide to drink it. Though a classic margarita is always a winner!