There has always been a fascination with the strongest alcohols, with just how strong drinks can be. Of course, consuming these beverages should be done with care, but many do in fact consume them.
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Strongest by Proof and ABV
What constitutes “strongest”? Unsurprisingly, that is up for debate and is very much subject to opinion, but many would say that anything above 80 proof or 40% alcohol by volume should be described as a particularly strong alcohol. Meanwhile, there are some spirits that have proof and ABV numbers that far surpass those.
What is the difference between proof and alcohol by volume? It is a simple mathematical formula; take the ABV number and double it or take the proof figure and halve it to get the other number.
Impact of Distillation
Distillation plays a significant role in the ABV and proof numbers getting exceptionally high. This is a process that is utilized to create spirits, such as rum, while beer and wine are not distilled. What happens during the distillation process is that the alcohol and water are separated through evaporation and condensation. This results in the alcohol content of the spirit increasing.
Conversely, drinks that simply undergo fermentation cannot exceed around 20% ABV or 40 proof as anything noticeably higher would negatively impact the yeast that is being used in their creation. However, that maximum level is rarely achieved as most of these types of drinks are around 13% ABV or 26 proof or below.
Some of the World’s Strongest Alcohols
Here are a few of the strongest alcohols that have been produced and consumed.
Absinthe, which is naturally green and has a nickname of the “green fairy” but may also be produced without color, is a spirit with a particularly high ABV of around 68 or above. Meanwhile, Hapsburg has sold absinthe bottles that are 89.9% ABV or 179 proof. A couple of examples of the latter include Hapsburg Gold Label Premium Reserve Absinthe and Hapsburg Absinthe XC. Absinthe is a drink that is also known as having been regularly consumed by Vincent van Gogh.
Bacardi 151, as of 2016, is no longer produced. As a result, it is particularly difficult to find this rum, which has a 75.5% ABV and is 151 proof. Part of the reason for its discontinuation is because it started becoming more known for its flammability than for its drinkability. The company itself described Bacardi 151 as a “shadowy creature of legend” in its announcement that it would no longer be sold.
Everclear is one of the most known highly potent alcoholic drinks with an ABV of 95%, resulting in it being 190 proof. Unsurprisingly, most recommend that this not be consumed on its own but to instead use it as a base for other liqueurs or with fruit punch. Of course, some do still drink this essentially tasteless spirit on its own anyway. Although it is produced in the United States, it is illegal to purchase it in many states. It is legal to buy in Illinois, however.
Spirytus is a Polish spirit that has 96% ABV, making it 192 proof, so it is slightly stronger than Everclear. It is commonly used in the creation of homemade vodka and as a base for liqueurs. Thanks to how concentrated its alcohol content is, most also do not recommend drinking it on its own, and if that is done anyway, you should be especially careful as one shot would be like drinking multiple cans of beer at once as far as alcohol consumption is concerned. Spirytus is the strongest spirit that is available for sale in the U.S.
Consuming High Alcohol Content Spirits
Of course, there are inherent risks in consuming any of these high alcohol content spirits. This is especially true of those who do not regularly drink alcohol-infused drinks at all, but everyone is at risk. That is primarily because, with these, taking in a substantial amount of alcohol in a short time period can be so easily done.
Alcohol poisoning and respiratory depression are a couple of the more common immediate risks of doing so while related possible symptoms include difficulty breathing and a slowed heart rate. Meanwhile, some of the long-term side effects can include kidney and liver issues, diabetes and brain damage. There is also a higher risk for addiction since more alcohol is being consumed more easily.
That said, note that absinthe and the other drinks discussed here do not have any hallucinogenic properties.
Those who do consume these types of drinks should consider how much they are drinking and how that compares to more commonly known drinks like beer and wine. Also keep in mind that the alcohol being consumed is essentially not being tempered by anything else like would be the case with beer or wine while the effects will also be felt much more prominently if one of these spirits is being consumed on an empty stomach.
It is understandable why the strongest alcohols have been so fascinating to so many, including those who never have and never will actually consume them. That is because we are generally fascinated by the pushing of boundaries, and that is why running ultramarathons or climbing Mount Everest is so interesting to so many, whether that involves doing it themselves or learning about those who have.
However, it is also essential to do these types of activities safely, whether that involves gradually building up your training to running a 26-mile or longer race or prioritizing safety when consuming alcoholic beverages, particularly the strongest ones that are described above.
If you would like to learn more about the services that we at Illinois Treatment Center offer individuals who are looking to experience recovery, stability, and sobriety, reach out to us by phone or by filling out the contact form on our website.