The strength of an alcoholic drink is measured based on its percentage of alcohol content (alcohol by volume, or ABV). Because much of the alcohol mentioned on this list is much stronger than what a person would normally drink, it’s helpful to have something with which to compare it. The following are typical alcoholic beverages and the percentage of alcohol each contains:
- Beer, cider, and hard seltzer – 4-5% ABV
- Malt liquor – 5.6-12% ABV
- Wine – 12-14% ABV
- Fruit liquors – 28-32% ABV
- Gin – 35-40% ABV
- Vodka – 35-46% ABV
- Rum – 40-46% ABV
- Whiskey – 55-60% ABV
The proof count is double the amount of the ABV. For example, an 80 proof rum is 40% ABV. However, these numbers are just averages, and as we shall investigate below, some spirits can have much higher ABVs and are, therefore, more dangerous to consume.
#12 Bacardi 151 (75.5% ABV)
Bacardi 151 is considered one of the strongest rums ever produced, although it has been discontinued. The reason it’s no longer available is because people too often ignored the warnings of the drink being highly flammable. That said, some individuals still have bottles of this incredibly dangerous substance in their possession.
#11 Devil Springs Vodka (80% ABV)
Devil Springs Vodka is another highly flammable alcoholic drink. Coming in at 160 proof, it is no surprise that this beverage is commonly abused, especially among people and cultures who prefer to drink vodka compared to other types of alcohol.
#10 Sunset Rum (84% ABV)
One of the world’s most robust rums, Sunset is a clear, unaged drink distilled from fermented molasses—high-proof white rum right out of the still. This rum is extremely powerful (84.5% abv) and can be very dangerous to consume, even in small amounts. Even the label on the bottle advises it to be consumed with a mixer because otherwise, it causes a burning sensation in the throat.
#9 Good ol’ Sailor Vodka (85% ABV)
Primarily consumed in Sweden, this vodka is hardly known to the rest of the world. Bottled at 170 Proof or 85% ABV, it’s one of the first vodkas made of organically grown Swedish barley distilled four times.
#8 Balkan 176 Vodka (88% ABV)
Balka is an alcoholic drink so strong, it requires 13 health warnings on the bottle. The most potent liquor made in Scandinavia, Balkan 176, is distilled three times and is almost entirely tasteless. This fact makes this drink especially dangerous because, without the pungent taste associated with most alcohols, this can leave the consumer ingesting too much without fully realizing the potential dangers of doing so.
#7 Pincer Vodka (88.8% ABV)
Pincer Vodka is the most potent alcohol Scotland produces and has similar qualities to Balkan 176, only a slightly higher ABV. It’s based on a neutral grain spirit and flavored with extracts of milk thistle and wild elderflower. It is considered extremely strong, even by Scottish standards.
#6 Hapsburg Gold Label Premium Reserve Absinthe (89.9% ABV)
Hapsburg Gold is an absinthe that is even higher in alcohol (89.9% ABV) than more commonly consumed absinthe, which comes in at a mere 74% ABV, maximum. Absinthe has been touted as having psychoactive properties which could lead to seizures, thought to be caused by the grand wormwood plant and its production of thujone. This chemical can cause sleeplessness, convulsions, and hallucinations.
#5 River Antoine Royale Grenadian Rum (90% ABV)
River Antoine Royale Grenadian Rum is distilled over a long period through an old, traditional pot stilling method. This gives it a prominent flavor not usually found in alcohol with such a high ABV (90%). It is unquestionably the most potent rum in the world sold by a major manufacturer.
#4 Bruichladdich X4+1 Quadrupled Whiskey (92% ABV)
Bruichladdich X4 is distilled four times, which is what gives it its name and appeal. Furthermore, it has a distinct taste that doesn’t match most alcohols because it’s aged in new oak casks. Unfortunately, due to its incredibly high ABV, we’re beginning to venture into even more dangerous territory. This alcohol can do serious harm to a person who consumes even a moderate amount in a matter of minutes.
#3 Golden Grain (95% ABV)
Golden Grain is made by the same company that produces the next alcohol on this list (Everclear), and both drinks are very similar in appearance, taste, and effects on the user. Of note, Golden Grain is illegal in some parts of the U.S.
#2 Everclear (95% ABV)
Everclear was unique when it first came out, as no prior alcohol could be labeled 190 proof. Furthermore, just like Pincer Vodka, it’s almost entirely tasteless. As already mentioned, there are many risks in store for those who decide to consume alcoholic drinks that are as strong as Everclear.
#1 Spirytus Rektyfikowany (96% ABV)
Spirytus contains the highest ABV in the world. In fact, it’s not even legal for purchase in most U.S. states due to its potency. Though this alcohol is rare in the U.S., it can readily be found in Poland or Eastern Europe, where it’s manufactured. Spirytus is undoubtedly the most dangerous alcohol to intake, as it’s probably as close to pure ethanol as one can find.
Alcohol’s Risks to One’s Health
The short-term concerns primarily lie around over-drinking to the point of being incapable of inducing alcohol poisoning, which can be lethal. Other short-term health risks include the following:
- Bluish tint to the skin
- Loss of consciousness
- Low body temperature
- Slow breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
Over time, people who consume alcohol frequently develop a dependence. If this happens, they will encounter additional health risks, including the following:
- Brain damage
- Nerve damage
- Immune system dysfunction
- Liver disease
- Mental health disorders
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Stomach ulcers
- Vitamin deficiency
Getting Help for Alcoholism
Alcohol addiction is a very serious and potentially life-threatening condition that wreaks havoc on the lives of those who suffer and their loved ones. Although it is considered incurable, it is very treatable.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer residential and partial hospitalization treatment programs that include a wide variety of therapies, services, and activities beneficial for sustaining long-term sobriety. These include, but are not limited to, medical detox, psychotherapy, counseling, group support, art and music therapy, addiction education, mindfulness therapy, and aftercare planning.