To the eternal displeasure of sober souls everywhere, alcohol is one drug that is deeply ingrained in our collective culture. Not just here in the western world either; evidence of the consumption of alcoholic beverages can be found among neolithic hunter-gatherer remains, meaning their consumption and production may very well pre-date other inventions like writing and the wheel. It’s not just humans either; monkeys and other apes have been documented getting drunk by eating very ripe fruits whose sugars have naturally produced ethanol. Whether you choose to partake or not, chances are you have a genetic predisposition to enjoy alcohol consumption.
After thousands of years of getting nice and sloshed, our protohuman ancestors began to have more refined tastes and production techniques. We’ve learned how to distill alcohol in virtually every way possible; liquor, beer, wine, jello shots, we’ve done it all in the pursuit of that perfect drink. With an estimated $1 trillion ever year spent on alcohol globally, it’s safe to say that it’s become a subject that’s very dear to our hearts.
Naturally, the nature of our modern world has created a stratified alcohol industry. If you’re poor – but still want to get your drink on – there’s a cheap, watery beer waiting for you at the local corner store that you can pick up in packs of 6 to 24 on the cheap. If you’re a rich, “sophisticated” (I use the word loosely) socialite type, you’ll probably gravitate towards the bottles of Grey Goose and Dom Perignon that entice the palates of the wealthy and famous. There really is a drink for everyone!
In a lot of ways, the alcohol industry is like the auto industry. BMW and Mercedes-Benz make cars for the upper class; Bugatti and Maybach make cars for the wealthy. These drinks aren’t for the doctors and business professionals who drive BMWs, these drinks are for the moguls who turn up to events and spend thousands of dollars on drinks for their entourage. These are the 10 most expensive alcoholic drinks in the world.
#10 Vieille Bon Secours Ale – $1200
As we’ll soon see, the domain of ultra-expensive alcohol is dominated by liquor, but that doesn’t mean beer can’t hold a spot down. Vieille Bon Secours is an artisanal belgian beer produced by la Brasserie Caulier, a family brewery based in Péruwelz, Belgium. Don’t worry, for $1200 you get a lot more than a bottle. Each $1200 order of Vieille Bon Secours guarantees you 12 litres of the world’s greatest beer to your doorstep. Since opening in 1995 they’ve produced several yields of beer, but the most valuable is the one that’s been aged for 10 years. The beer has an 8% alcohol content and has a taste flavoured with toffee and anise.
#9 The Winston Cocktail – $14,000
For $14,000 you don’t get a casket of rare beer or a bottle of aged scotch; you get a single cocktail. That’s right, a single cocktail can set you back $14,000 if you have the abundance of means and lack of sense to actually order it. Master bartender Salvatore Calabrese can take the credit for crafting the expensive – but almost surely delicious – cocktail. To mix ‘The Winston’, take 60ml of Cognac Croizet 1858 Cuvee Leonie, part Grand Marnier Quintessence, part Chartreuse Viellissement Exceptionellement Prolongé, with just a hint of Angostura Bitters. Elegant, refined, overpriced; it has all the ingredients of a drink for executives.
#8 Legacy by Angostura – $25,000
Although the world is full of expensive drinks, it’s rare that they’re expensive for political reasons. Legacy by Angostura is one such drink. The rum mixture was crafted specifically to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago’s independence. Only 20 decanters of the rum – composed of a mixture of several rums all aged for at least 17 years – were ever put up for sale. Each rum comes in a case and crystal decanter that was designed specifically by Asprey’s of London, the company that designs jewelry for none other than Prince Charles. For $25,000 a pop, you might as well make sure you’re in Trinidad and Tobago before you’re going to crack it open.
#7 Château d’Yquem – $130,000
Château d’Yquem is a wine producer in the Bordeaux region of France that’s been crafting wine for 300 years. In 1711, a vineyard was established in the area that would survive several generations of owners and operators. They continue to produce a multitude of wines – including Château d’Yquem and Ygrec – but their most prestigious wine is a batch from 1811. The 1811 Château d’Yquem is one of very few wines to have been given a perfect 100 by wine critic Robert Parker, who sampled it in 1999 and described it as ‘drinking liquified crème brûlée’. High praise. Should you ever encounter a bottle of this increasingly rare white vintage, expect to shell out a hefty $130,000.
#6 Penfolds Ampoule – $170,000
If you aren’t interested in Château d’Yquem and prefer a fine red wine to a white wine, then look no further than Penfolds Ampoule, the most expensive red wine on the market. For only $170,000 you too can sample the best red wine money can buy! The glass blown ampoule holds enough of the Penfolds Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 vintage for one glass, proving once and for all that if you throw several keywords at people all at once you can override their common sense. Only 12 have ever been produced, and it comes with a wooden piece case designed by furniture craftsman Andrew Bartlett. The absolute best part is that when the owner decides to sample it, he or she can request for a member of the Penfolds winemaking team to be present. It’s like a genie in a bottle, only this time you’re summoning a winemaker who definitely hates your guts.
#5 Armand de Brignac Midas – $215,000
Some drinks are expensive for their rarity, and others for the size of the bottle. Armand de Brignac Midas captures the best of both worlds. The champagne comes in a 30 litre bottle that is brightly, and rather awkwardly, painted gold. The bottle looks like it was designed by a 14-year-old Flavor Flav, and is a sure fire way to make that table of tracksuit-wearing aspiring rappers thoroughly jealous. After all, nothing screams class like ordering a bottle of distilled sugar that costs a quarter of a million dollars and has to be carried to the table by several staff members like a funeral dirge to the last shred of respect your grandfather has for you. He fought in the war for this?
#4 Dalmore 62 – $215,000
Like Penfolds Ampoule, only 12 bottles of Dalmore 62 were ever produced. Unlike Penfolds Ampoule, it actually holds enough liquor for several drinks and not just one. The most recent transaction involving the vintage came from an anonymous man who purchased one of the bottles at Changai airport in Singapore, which brings us to the question of why such an exceedingly rare drink was being sold at an airport? Whatever the case, that transaction made the Dalmore 62 the world’s most expensive whiskey – not scotch, since it wasn’t produced in Scotland – a title that it will probably hold for the foreseeable future.
#3 Diva Vodka – $1,000,000
You may be mistaken in assuming that a brand of vodka named ‘Diva Vodka’ would cost $24 and taste like expired nail polish remover; I know I was. Surprisingly someone, somewhere, gave the green light to this gaudy experiment. The vodka is triple filtered, first through ice and then through Nordic birch charcoal, and finally through sand containing precious gems. Because if there’s one thing that makes alcohol better, it’s knowing that at some point it came into contact with a shiny stone. The real cost of the bottles comes from the packaging though; there are Swarovski crystals stacked up in the middle of the bottle that can be taken out and used as a garnishment for your drink. You couldn’t make this up if you tried.
#2 Henri IV Dudognon Heritage Cognac Grande Champagne – $2,000,000
The Henri IV Dudognon Heritage Cognac Grande Champagne doesn’t care what you think, maggot. The Henri IV Dudognon Heritage Cognac Grande Champagne has more elaborate words in its name than any other alcohol. It’s a cognac for a king, which we kind of alluded to by naming it after Henri IV. The Henri IV Dudognon Heritage Cognac Grande Champagne has been aged for 100 years – which is actually legitimately cool – and has a bottle dipped in 24-carat gold and sterling platinum that contains 6,500 diamonds, which is cool if you have no personality and try to fabricate one using your bank account. The Henri IV Dudognon Heritage Cognac Grande Champagne is best enjoyed over a leisurely flight above economically devastated South Sudan in a private jet.
#1 Tequila Ley .925 – $3,500,000
Crafted by the same minds behind the Henry IV Dudognon Heritage Cognac Grande Champagne, the Tequila Ley .925 is a tequila that has a unique production process, in the sense that it’s been distilled specifically for terrible people. Like the Henry IV (…), the Tequila Ley .925 is in a bottle that contains 6,400 diamonds, which add to the taste of the tequila through…some kind of process. Look, there’s diamonds all over the bottle. Just buy it, don’t be so cheap. The bottle was unveiled in Mexico City in front of a crowd who applauded when it was revealed. Remarkably no one is really sure just how it tastes, considering that no one – at least to the public’s knowledge – has purchased it. The company behind Tequila Ley .925 must really be banking on the old adage ‘build it, and they will come’. For humanity’s sake, we hope they’re wrong.