We all know that a neutral spirit needs to be at least 40% by volume to be considered vodka, but what are the upper limits of that definition? As such a pure spirit that’s ultimate brought ‘down to proof’ by the addition of water, the extremes of alcohol content that vodka can achieve are pretty much up to the distiller’s imagination (and the potential drinker’s bravery). That being said, here are the Mule we don’t necessarily condone the consumption of liquors on this list neat, as spirits of this proof are difficult to gauge and the potential for damaging over-consumption is high. They are fantastic for creating concentrated vodka infusions though!
Devil’s Springs Vodka: At 151 proof (75.5% alcohol by volume), Devil’s Springs Vodka is somewhat notorious. While great for mixing really powerful cocktails, this also makes it uniquely suited for concocting your own flavored vodkas: though your average 80-proof spirit isn’t strong enough to extract much flavor and aroma, Devil’s Springs is an ideal base for macerating just about anything potable. Just leave the flavoring agent in the vodka long enough to suit your taste–it’s worth experimenting with timing to see what works best for you–and then dilute one to one with water. You can even try making your own gin or cocktail bitters.
Balkan Vodka: Crafted in Serbia and carrying no less than 13(!) health warnings on its label, this vodka is not to be trifled with. Triple-distilled to 88% ABV, you’re going to need a passport or some serious internet mail-order skills, since it’s not available in the U.S. In fact, we can’t even find a basic website for this mysterious elixir!
Pincer Vodka Shanghai Strength: At 177 proof (88.8% ABV) Glasgow-based, eco-minded makers of the botanical (that’s right—it’s healthy) vodka define it 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.
Spirytus Rektyfikowany: This hard to pronounce Polish Vodka is a murderous 96% ABV, which means that it’s just 0.5% shy of the theoretical limit for how pure a spirit can practically be distilled to (outside extreme lab conditions). Spirytus is actually more potent than the widely-known Everclear and sits atop as the world’s strongest alcoholic beverage.