12 of the World's Strongest Liquors
192 (96% alcohol). Made in: PolandApproved a few years ago to be sold in New York State, the Polish-made Spirytus vodka is the strongest liquor for sale in the U.S. “It’s like getting punched in the solar plexus,” one sampler told the New York Post. Or as one liquor retailer recited in a frightening endorsement, “Pilots in Siberia used to drink it.”
190 (95% alcohol). Made in: United StatesThe first 190-proof alcohol ever to be bottled for consumers, Everclear spawned a ‘90s rock band and many a bad idea—it’s a favorite among young drinkers because it’s nearly tasteless. For context, drugstore-brand rubbing alcohol averages 91 percent alcohol.
190 (95% alcohol). Made in: United StatesFrom the same makers as Everclear, and nearly identical in constitution, Golden Grain is the key ingredient in drinks with names like The Screaming Purple Jesus and Instant Death. Here’s a shocker: it’s illegal in many states.
Bruichladdich X4 Quadrupled Whiskey
184 (92% alcohol). Made in: ScotlandBased on the 17th-century method of quadruple distilling, Bruichladdich’s X4 is billed as the most alcoholic single malt ever made. Aged in new oak casks to enhance flavor, the X4 can also, as proven by a pair of BBC journalists, power a sports car at speeds over 100 mph.
River Antoine Royale Grenadian Rum
180 (90% alcohol). Made in: GrenadaDrawing from the centuries-old tradition of “pot stilling”—a method of slow-distilling used for maximum flavor—this strong, clear rum is distilled from fermented sugarcane juice using a waterwheel. Drink it neat (with a water chaser) if you want to blend in and/or get drunk with the locals.
Hapsburg Gold Label Premium Reserve Absinthe
179 (89.9% alcohol). Made in: Czech RepublicMarketed with the slogan “There are no rules,” Hapsburg’s absinthe blend might not be the same version drunk by Van Gogh, the most famous of absinthe drinkers, but rest assured it’s inspired some “artistic” behavior. “We always beg people not to drink it straight,” says U.K.-based distributor Dale Sklar. “But then, who are we to tell people what to drink?”
Pincer Shanghai Strength
177 (88.8% alcohol). Made in: ScotlandThe Glasgow-based, eco-minded makers of the botanical (that’s right—it’s healthy) vodka say their 177-proof formula is intended to be used as a concentrate: a single bottle supplies 65 shots as compared to the usual 26. What’s more, it’s got wild elderflower and milk thistle, which is used in Chinese medicine as a liver support. You’ll need it.
Balkan 176 Vodka
176 (88% alcohol). Made in: BulgariaImported from Bulgaria, Balkan 176 is sold in more than 20 countries and, according to importer Sklar, is especially popular in South America (though not yet available in the U.S.). “By nature, vodka is a colorless, flavorless alcohol,” says Noah Rothbaum, former editor in chief of liquor.com. “Higher proof won’t add anything, taste-wise. But this certainly gets your attention, doesn’t it?”
John Crow Batty Rum
160 (80% alcohol). Made in: JamaicaJamaican white rum is the country’s version of moonshine. The legendarily potent John Crow Batty was so named, the story goes, because it’s stronger than the stomach acids of the wild “John Crow” vultures, which snack on decaying meat. If you’ll drink to that, you’ll drink to anything.
151 (75.5% alcohol). Made in: Puerto RicoListed as a must-have in subarctic survival, the light brown 151 is used often in more moderate climes as a piña colada floater or on fiery drinks like the Tucker Max–endorsed Flaming Dr. Pepper (tastes just like regular Dr. Pepper, only made entirely of alcohol).
King of Spirits Absinthe
140 (70% alcohol) Made in: Czech RepublicKing of Spirits is powered by thujone—a chemical produced by the grand wormwood plant that’s banned in the U.S. Thujone is also the primary culprit of the “absinthism,” a 19th-century affliction; symptoms could include sleeplessness, hallucinations, and convulsions. Yet this absinthe draws in fans with claims that drinking it will make “colors seem brighter, your breath better, and your mind particularly receptive.”
Clarke’s Court Spicy Rum
138 (69% alcohol). Made in: GrenadaFrom one of Grenada’s largest rum producers, the honey-colored rum is celebrated for its nuances more than its high alcohol content: clove, nutmeg, white pepper, and cinnamon combine for a spirit that’s as complex as it is potent. Quite civilized, actually.