The days of moonshine coming in an opaque jug marked only with three eerie-looking XXX’s (which, it turns out, denote how many times it’s been distilled) are pretty much behind us. Most liquor bottles have a bit more detail and character nowadays. And more than a few of them go above and beyond the basic function of a bottle (holding liquid) to boldly express—and sometimes literally embody—the brand of the liquor inside.
The results can be cheesy (as in swirling sparkly purple vodka), inappropriately anatomical (a bottle you’d probably never buy for your mother), or just straight up weird. But it also makes browsing the shelves a little more interesting…
Crazy Expensive Collector Bottles
When liquor bottles trade function for artistic expression, price can go up—way up, in some cases.
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Scotch is always a bit pricey, but how about a Macallan 64-Year in a Lalique Cire Perdue Crystal Decanter? Sold at auction for the low, low price of $460,000! (Actually, it’s the most expensive bottle of whiskey ever sold.)
If you’re looking to do some good and get some gin at the same time, maybe you can buy one of Bombay Sapphire’s five (as in five only) Revelation Collection bottles. Sure it’s $200,000 a pop, but you’ll be doing something good and you’ll get a bottle that looks like a clear blue diamond (or the futuristic spaceship room a 1970s Sci Fi movie).
Slightly more affordable, and slightly terrifying-looking, are the Louis XIII “Black Pearl” bottles of 40 to 100 year-old Cognac, at a reasonable $8000.
Bottles You Can Actually Buy!
Fear not, funky bottle collectors! Not all the interesting stuff is made of crystal or shaped like some kind of medieval torture device (check out that Black Pearl Cognac…). Plenty of bottles of accessibly priced liquor are shaped in bizarre ways. Here are just a few samples of the (insane) variety that’s out there…
The Terrifying: If you like your liquor to spook you out, why not try Crystal Head Vodka? Made by Dan Akroyd’s company (yep), it’s vodka sold in a bottle shaped like a crystal skull for around $50 a pop. Bonus, once you’re done drinking it, it can still stare at you with its empty eyes! Oh, and don’t forget to round out your collection with ultra-eerie Frozen Ghost Vodka, with the shape of a specter trapped in the bottle. Chilling. Which is appropriate for vodka.
The Arsenal: If you want to send a message with your liquor (and that message is “don’t mess with my liquor”), then consider going for broke with something like Hijos de Villa’s Handgun Pistol Reposado Tequila or Kalashnikov Vodka AK-47, shaped like light and heavy artillery respectively. If blades are more your weapon of choice, there’s Armenian 5 Star Brandy Sword, priced at only $40, and Khukri Nepali rum, which is shaped like a knife (not a butter knife, either!). Russian Samurai Vodka isn’t shaped like a sword, but it does cleverly look like a sword’s been run through it.
The Straight Up Funky: These bottles span the gamut from S&M to girls night out. Tequila Romance by Milagro has three spheres of anejo tequila suspended in glass, surrounded by reposado, with two spigots to pour. Absolut Rock edition goes kinky with leather and spikes, while Medea Vodka’s LED display actually lets you program whatever message you want onto the label; Viniq, on the other hand, sends its own message, not so much with the bottle but what’s inside: a combination of vodka, Moscato, and fruit flavors that looks like swirly, sparkly purple nail polish and is still somehow (theoretically) drinkable. And while it’s not quite a liquor (though its 55% ABV means you should treat it like one), BrewDog’s The End of History is actually packaged in squirrel carcasses (that have been cleaned).