Face it – most of us likely couldn’t tell the difference between a $20 bottle of vodka and a $200 bottle of vodka. Maybe that’s because most of us don’t drink our vodka straight; choosing instead to mix it with orange juice, tonic and lemon, or Kahlua and cream. Perhaps if we did drink it alone, we’d recognize the nuances that would make it worth paying a few hundred bucks for a bottle of the clear spirit.
However, not even a week’s pay would be enough to afford a bottle, and quite possibly even a shot, of some of the most expensive vodkas in the world. While you’ll likely take your tax refund and either bank it or use it toward the annual family trip to Disney World, let’s just for a moment live vicariously through those much richer than ourselves.
Beauty and the Bottle
A great many of the world’s most expensive vodkas have outrageous price tags because of the bottle, and not because of what’s inside. Well-known vodka brands such as Absolut and Grey Goose have upscale, limited-edition versions of their vodkas that are everything about the exterior and feature nothing new inside.
For instance, Absolut released the Absolut Crystal bottle, made of grinded crystal glass by Reijmyre Glassworks, and limited the number to just 800 pieces, available only in international Duty Free stores.
As you can imagine, since we’re all well versed to read “expensive” when we see “limited”, the Absolut Crystal carried a price tag of $1,000. For that cool grand, you’d get not just the bottle, but also two matching glasses, a cone, and leather case. Don’t worry: For that price they also threw in a plain ol’ one-liter bottle of Absolut Vodka.
Grey Goose has dabbled in the luxury market with two collaborations with Swiss jewelry maker Chopard. First, it was a fancier bottle featuring a glittering glass globe with a wing-flapping goose atop as the bottle top (retail $467), and then a ten-bottle release of the Magnum Grey Goose Vodka for $815 a bottle.
The Magnum featured the same design as the other bottle, but also came in a silver cage–obviously, to keep you from drinking your investment. It should come as no surprise that both limited releases were only sold in Paris.
Other brands have embellished their bottles with Svarovski crystals in assorted patterns and colors, and embellished their prices alongside. These include the French vodka Alize and the Russian vodka Iordanov.
Famed vodka-maker Belvedere even went so far as to house its vodka in a plexiglass bear bottle designed by Jean-Roch and distributed to VIPs at the Cannes Film Festival. The price tag of these upscale teddy bears? More than $7,000!
All that Glitters
If you’re going to have a luxury vodka, you might as well make it gold, right? That’s the thinking behind Vallure Vodka, a German brand that uses a triple-gold-filtering process after distillation. Holding their vodka up as the “gold standard” of the spirit, they decided a fitting bottle would be made of 24-karat gold plating. Interestingly, no price was ever announced, even after it was made available in the U.S. market. Obviously, like all things rich, if you have to ask you can’t afford it.
Gold is not the only thing that glitters; so too do diamonds. Blackwood Distillers’ Diva vodka is said to be filtered and refined through, among other things, crushed diamonds and rare gems. This Scottish distiller then bottles Diva with a glass core or “wand” that contains 48 handpicked crystals such as amethyst, peridot, and smoky topaz, so that each and every bottle is unique. Supposedly these gems determine the pricing, which is said to range from $70 to more than $1 million!
You Know Better
Famous Russian vodka maker Stolichnaya offers its elit brand as its über vodka, sheathed in a sleek, sophisticated bottle and marketed for people who “know better” than to accept anything but the best. The über, über label is its elit Himalayan Edition, which is the first in Stoli’s line of “pristine water” vodkas.
The elit Himalayan consists of just 300 bottles, and the vodka is made from water sourced from Langtang National park in the Himalayas. In keeping with the pristine water promise, the wheat used in the vodka is harvested in a region in Russia that features an all-natural water reservoir, keeping the wheat free from impurities. Furthermore, Stoli has partnered with Oceana on its water series of limited vodkas, a group that works to protect the world’s oceans.
At just $3,000 a bottle, all of this would be enough to earn the endorsement of any rich philanthropist, but they lose us at the expensive and needless extra that they throw into the package–a gold-plated ice pick that they warn is for display only. They should know better.