Liquors that contain the highest amount of alcohol

It's not often that we wonder whether there are spirits out there that are so strong they could probably kill us if we drank too much of it, but they exist. Food & Wine credits the popularity of potent liquors to the return of pre-Prohibition cocktails, which were originally created to make bad alcohol more palatable. (Fun Fact: The Conversation says the primary source of alcohol during Prohibition was industrial alcohol whose chemicals had been removed to make it suitable for drinking.)

Thrillist reminds us that overproof alcohol has a role in the world of mixology — a role that transcends the need to just get wasted. "For bartenders, bigger alcohol degrees offer a wider latitude for more inventive cocktails since alcohol is the backbone for any successful mixed drink," Paul Pacult, author of The Spirits Journal, says. "For consumers, loftier alcohol levels of 45 percent and up give the impression of greater character and more bang for their buck."

The world's top five strongest liquors

If your memories of strong alcohol involve Bacardi 151 (75.5 percent alcohol), have we got news for you. The Puerto Rican rum doesn't even make it to the top five of The Daily Meal's list of the highest-proof liquors.

Coming in at No. 5 is Balkan Vodka, which comes in at 88 percent ABV and is triple distilled. The Drinks Shop sells Balkan Vodka with a warning: that it should not be consumed neat but cut with a mixer. The old-school labeling comes with a whopping 13 health warnings. At No. 4 is Hapsburg Gold Label Premium Reserve Absinthe, made in the Czech Republic and is 179 proof — that's 89.9 percent ABV. 

The third-highest proof liquor in the world is Scotland's Bruichladdich X4 Quadrupled Whisky, which is produced using the 17th-century method of quadruple distilling. Also called the world's most alcoholic single malt, Bruichladdich contains 92 percent ABV.

With Everclear, the U.S. holds the distinction of being the first to bottle and sell a liquor that is 190 proof, or 95 percent ABV, but the record holder for the strongest liquor to date is Poland's Spirytus vodka, which is 96 percent ABV. We're not quite sure we know how it can be consumed, but it would probably come in handy as a cleaning agent.