Overproof alcohol has its advantages: It can be a valuable team player in a cocktail, providing a strong backbone for other flavors and reminding drinkers that the beverage in their hand is anything but weak. At the upper end of the high-proof spectrum, however, overproof liquor can get a little extreme. Subtle flavors start to die off as the ABV rises, giving way to serious burn. Some of these ultra boozy spirits are notorious for their ability to be set aflame and get drinkers blitzed—we’re looking at you, Everclear—but not all are so (in)famous. Here are the 11 highest proof alcohols in the world that will put a standard bottle of 80-proof liquor to shame.
Popular among tiki bars for its wide availability (until it was recently discontinued) and capacity to easily light on fire, this super strong bottle from Bacardi is a staple for fiery Scorpion Bowls and other incendiary cocktails. But be warned: This 151-proof bottling from Bacardi is the lowest proof spirit on this list—so you know it’s only going to get crazy from here.
Until we met Devil’s Springs, we didn’t think anything so diabolical could emerge from New Jersey. Created by Black Prince Distillery, Devil’s Springs does come in a 151-proof variation, but it’s the 160-proof version that has gained enough infamy to warrant an entry in Urban Dictionary.
John Crow Batty Rum, 160 Proof
This white hot Jamaican rum is named for the common belief that drinkers need a stomach as strong as a “John Crow” vulture (aka turkey vultures native to the Caribbean) just to slug it down. John Crow will certainly rot your insides if you drink too much straight, so we suggest mixing a dash into a rum cocktail to up the ante on less potent sugar cane spirits.
You don’t usually expect to see a flavorful spiced rum clock in at 160 proof, and you definitely don’t expect to see it in Austria. Half a world away from the Caribbean, however, spiced rum has taken hold of the European nation—chief among them is Stroh. Often splashed into baked goods or even a cup of tea, you could also swig it neat if you find other local liqueurs lacking in oomph.
It’s right there on the label: This rum from St. Vincent is, in fact, very strong. Too bad you might have trouble reading that label after a few sips of this biting booze. But despite its jet fuel potency, Sunset is popular among rum aficionados, who top rum cocktails with a float of the overproof spirit or mix it with tropical fruit flavors to give drinks some backbone.
Another bottle that wears its proof right in its name, Balkan 176 comes from Serbia—but people all over the world will know the vodka’s boozy punch thanks to warning labels in 13 different languages, including Braille. But even if you couldn’t read any of those, you’d still probably get the idea from just one whiff—it’ll singe your nose hairs before it ever gets near your lips.
Pincer Shanghai Strength Vodka, 178 Proof
The Scots know a thing or two about drinks that’ll set your tongue alight—namely scotch and peat. But after a couple hundred years of distilling their titular spirit, the distilling pros of Scotland have learned a new inflammatory trick: high-proof vodka. Though Princer Shanghai Strength Vodka is infused with milk thistle and wild elderflower, even to the most experienced palate the primary tasting note is “oh my god my tongue is on fire.”
We’ve debunked the hallucinatory green fairy myth many times over, but this 179 proof absinthe from Hapsburg Gold Label makes us reconsider. Despite its marketing slogan, “There are no rules,” Hapsburg’s UK distributor begs people not to drink it straight. Do yourself a favor and listen to him: Instead of throwing back a shot, drink your absinthe in a traditional Drip or Frappé, both of which require a hefty dose of sugar and water. You could also opt for mixing with Champagne if you feel like following in Ernest Hemingway’s footsteps.
Like the extra-strong Jungle Juice at a frat rager, it was only a matter of time until Everclear showed up to ruin everyone’s sense of decency. Less a beverage and more of a fiery rite of passage, Everclear is a test of gastrointestinal strength that should be handled with care. You just can’t reason with an ABV that high.
From the makers of Everclear, Golden Grain suffers from an inferiority complex in the shadow of its notorious sibling. But don’t trust this humble grain spirit—if anything, relative anonymity makes Golden Grain a feistier beverage beast because you won’t see it coming.
Spirytus literally means “alcohol” in Polish, and it is one of the purest distillations of commercially available booze that has ever flowed across the Earth. In its home country, the grain-based spirit is usually used for infusing Polish medicinal tinctures called Nalewka because drinking it straight is like getting punched in the throat. But in the U.S., some drinkers are daring enough to attempt drinking it straight. This is ill-advised—don’t mess around with this almost 96 percent ABV liquor, people.