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Mark your detox with a retox

Congratulations to all those who have successfully completed a dry January. The question now is what will you drink to celebrate?

Here at db Towers we are all behind responsible drinking and we give a nod to all who have gone through January without an alcoholic drink. But as we move into February you can start to think about your first drink of 2013.

It would be easy to make a list of luxurious and expensive drinks such as Dom Pérignon, Armand de Brignac or Cristal, but we thought the “retox” should take on a slightly different feel.

So here’s a look at a range of strong drinks to give you more “bang for your buck”.

Overproof rum

Rum will generally have an abv of between 40 and 50%, but most rum manufacturers also produce an overproof expression. These will be around 75% – Bacardi 151, Cruzan 151 and El Dorado 151 all have a 75.5%. Jamaica’s most popular overproof rum is Wray & Nephew white overproof rum, which has a 63%.

But if you’re looking for something extra-special for your retox then the River Antoine Royal Grenadian Rum at 90% might be the way to go.

Cask Strength whisky

Most whisky available in shops will be between 40 and 46%, but the drink is usually a lot stronger when it first comes out of the cask.

Whisky can be at 60% or more in the cask and so needs to be diluted before being bottled. If a whisky is not diluted before bottling it can be called cask strength and most whisky producers will release a cask strength expression of their product.

The Bruichladdich’s X4 whisky is based on a 17th century tradition of quadruple distilling and at 92% abv it claims to be the world’s strongest whisky.

Super-strength beer

We’re not talking Carlsberg Special Brew or Tennent’s Super here, but proper super-strength beer. We recently revealed the top 10 strongest beers in the world, with Armageddon from Brewmeister coming out on top at an incredible 65% abv.

Over recent years fellow Scottish brewers BrewDog were involved in a tit-for-tat exchange with German brewers, Schorschbraü, in creating the strongest beers. BrewDog went as far as 55%, while Schorschbraü topped out at 57%. Using a special freeze fermentation Armageddon’s creator said the beer was designed for people to enjoy in small quantities “like a fine brandy”.


Chartreuse is a French liqueur, which has been made by monks since the 18th century and is created using 130 herbal extracts. As with many other drinks the most commonly available version of Chartreuse is usually around 40%.

But the monks also produce Elixir Végétal de la Grande-Chartreuse, which is 69%. This has the same base of about 130 medicinal and aromatic plants and flowers but is far stronger.

It is claimed that Chartreuse is a tonic, so it could be considered a slightly healthier way to retox, and it is one of a small number of liquors that continues to age and improve in the bottle.

George T Stagg

It can be difficult to find this rare Kentucky bourbon outside the US, but if you can then at around 70%, it is an ideal candidate for those looking at a bourbon retox.

The single-barrel, uncut and unfiltered bourbon is aged for approximately 15 years and Buffalo Trace release one expression each year.

Last year, db reader Max Stein said of George T Stagg: “Not only awe-inspiring in strength at 71.4% abv, this bourbon is also capable of standing over the titans of single malt Scotch and redefines what American whiskey can do.”


The Zinfandel grape has a high sugar content and in the hot climates of California, which is known for growing a lot of the grape, this can lead to particularly strong wines. While the majority of wine will sit around 11 to 14%, some Zinfandels can get up between 17 and 22%. This can put it into Port territory. So if you are a wine drinker looking for a bit of a kick for your retox, then Zinfandel is definitely one to consider.

Balkan 176 vodka

At 88% Balkan 176 is the strongest vodka currently available in the UK. The advice is that this should not be drunk neat, so some good mixers are a must here.

As with rum there are overproof vodkas available, although most of these tend to be in the 50 to 60%, rather than super-strength like this Balkan. Krepkaya Vodka and Stolichnaya Blue Label are just two examples of other overproof vodkas that are available in the UK.

These could be considered ideal for a retox cocktail, but be very careful if you’re pouring yourself a drink at home as these are a lot stronger than most of the vodka you are probably used to.


Historically absinthe has been a highly alcoholic drink, although it is normally diluted with water before drinking.

Absinthe was banned in many European countries and the US around the start of the 20th century, but was never banned in the UK. In the 1990s absinthe enjoyed something of a revival and recently the Spirits Business held the 2013 Absinthe Masters.

The aniseed and floral flavour of absinthe means that it does not appeal to everyone, and don’t forget the sugar cube if you are going to try this for your retox.

Corpse reviver cocktail

So you’ve had your first drink for a month and you’ve gone for a stronger version of your favoured drink than you normally would. Will it be time for a “hair of the dog” hangover cure? Although hair of the dog doesn’t feature too highly in our top 10 hangover cures, let’s not forget that this is retox, so there is no messing around here.

There are a series of Corpse Reviver cocktails, the original corpse reviver consists of two parts Cognac, one part apple Brandy and one part sweet vermouth; now there’s a challenge for the morning after the night before.

The Corpse Reviver II consists of an equal measure of gin, lemon juice, triple sec and Lillet Blanc, with a dash of absinthe to line the glass.

And finally there is the Savoy Corpse Reviver, invented by Joe Gilmore in 1954, which is one part Brandy, one part white Crème de menthe and one part Fernet Branca. Good luck to anyone trying any of those.

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