Bacardi 151, the iconic high-proof rum that probably shows up in some of your worst-hangover flashbacks, was discontinued in 2016. Although the company gave no explanation why, take one look at the label: 151-proof. That’s a 75.5 percent ABV. Standard rums and vodkas hang in the 40 percent ABV.
In fact, most high-proof liquor lists are a graveyard of discontinued labels; River Antoine Royale Grenadian Rum (180 proof), Bruichladdich X4 Quadrupled Whiskey (184 proof), and Pincer Shanghai Strength (177 proof) have all joined the walking dead (but not this boozy iteration of The Walking Dead).
That being said, if you fancy the taste (and head butterflies) of a high-proof spirit, want to spit fire (we don’t actually recommend that), or simply don’t have any taste buds or a soul, here are the best high-proof spirits still on the market.
Devil’s Spring Vodka (160 Proof)
One reviewer of Devil’s Spring wrote in all capitals, “NOT FOR THE NOVICE.” That being said, a bottle of this super-potent vodka can be yours for only $15-$18 online and is perfect for making homemade infused vodkas. The high proof will break down whatever berries, herbs, etc., and extract more of the flavor. Shots? Not so much.
Sunset Very Strong Rum (169 Proof)
Indeed, it is very strong. Another five star-rated high-proof bad boy is Sunset Very Strong rum, coming in at 169 proof. Made on the island of St. Vincent, this clear rum is suggested for use in heavily-diluted cocktails (like any of these rum-based recipes). Yes, it’s like drinking firewater, so we suggest splashing a bit as a floater in your mojito since there’s still plenty of sweet flavor there to be enjoyed.
Balkan 176° Vodka (176 Proof)
While most high-proof spirits are so darn high nobody likes to drink them and therefore cost less than $20 a bottle, Balkan 176° sits on the high end at roughly $50. It’s strong as hell and comes with 13 separate health warnings. By no stretch should this be had neat. Produced in Serbia, the vodka is triple-distilled and could be the missing ingredient needed to punch up your White Russian.
Hapsburg Gold Label Premium Reserve Absinthe (179 Proof)
While absinthe was banned for many years across Europe (here’s the full, crazy story), it’s always been available in England. Hapsburg Gold Label Premium Reserve stands as the strongest absinthe in the UK market at 89.9 percent ABV. The company’s “original” absinthe is considered the weakest (a mere 72.5 percent ABV — weak sauce, basically). As with most absinthes, Hapsburg’s is best enjoyed the traditional way: with plenty of time, a sugar cube, and slow-dripping absinthe fountain. And no, you won’t see fairies … unless you regularly do when you’re drunk.
Everclear Grain Alcohol (190 Proof)
The only cocktail you should ever make with Everclear is Riot Punch, first concocted by the gang of the FX show, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. The ingredients: Gatorade and Everclear.
We’re kidding. Those last two sentences alone should let you know just how insane it is to consider drinking Everclear. However, it’s good to have a bottle in the event of an emergency survival situation, like when you need an antiseptic for wounds or a fire accelerant.
Spirytus (192 Proof)
The 96-percentABV Spirytus defines itself as having a “gentle smell and taste.” We’re going to call bullshit. The strongest booze you can find on the market, this Polish spirit is made of premium ethyl alcohol with an agricultural cereal origin. What? In other words, it’s extremely strong and commonly used for medical purposes or by home perfume makers. Spirytus is suggested for prepping homemade liqueurs, spicing up desserts, and can be quite good with plenty, plenty of dilution. If you cringe after taking a shot of tequila, just go home now.