Tech. Science. Culture.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

The Vodka So Dangerous You Should Never Drink It Straight

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Earlier this year, English company Master of Malt scorched mouths and livers with the world's hottest vodka. Rated to 100,000 Scoville Heat Units, you'd want to chase it with an iceberg.

But why stop at 100,000? Master of Malt's latest creation comes in at a staggering 250,000 Scoville, served up with liability disclaimers and "use at your own risk" warnings. When Master of Malt sent over an exclusive sneak preview sample, we poured up a shot. Smells spicy! Sweet Jesus, what are we about to do?


It's Friday afternoon, you've made it through the long week, and it's time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo's weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Let's have a hell.

Master of Malt makes this paint-stripping style of vodka using the Naga Jolokia pepper, a.k.a. the infamous Ghost Pepper. Grown in Northern India and Bangladesh, the raw pepper can range between 330,000 and well over 1,000,000 on the Scoville scale. It was the world's hottest pepper, until recently, when it was surpassed by the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. Whatever. The Naga is still hot enough to make you vomit blood. Search "ghost pepper challenge" to find footage of some entertaining schadenfreude.


The distillers soak dried Naga Jolokias in 80-proof wheat spirit (vodka), then they filter and bottle it, very, very carefully. "The guys in production have gas masks," says creator Ben Ellefsen. "No exaggeration."

To up the Scoville rating on the newest demon vodka, the distillers used 2.5 times as many chiles. "To be honest, the difference between the two is kind of like the difference between being shot with a 12-bore or 8-bore shotgun," Ellefsen says. "The result is pretty much the same, just a slightly different way of getting there."


Sounds like a treat.

Test Notes

We devised three simple tests for this stuff. For relief, we had two pints of whole milk, several packets of raw sugar, and some crackers. I like hot food. I've traveled through Southeast Asia, and I've sampled some truly vicious chilies. I'm ready. Let's do this.


Test 1: The Bloodiest Mary

A diluted drink seemed the safest way to start the testing. So, to an otherwise normal Bloody Mary, I added half a teaspoon of the 250,000 Scoville sauce.


Five seconds after the first sip, there it is. A very strong tingle in the lips and tongue. After a swig, the heat spreads to my gums. But it's not unpleasant. Actually, it's a rather nice balance. So far so good.

Test 2: An Uncut Sip

The "Testing notes by the chaps at Master of Malt" describe the raw vodka well:

Nose: Good crivvens, this stuff smells like pure evil, like the very blood of Satan himself. Such a pungent nose of chile, it makes your eyes water just sniffing it.


I poured a little into a spoon, and down the hatch it went. After fifteen seconds, I thought someone was holding a lighter to my mouth. After thirty seconds, my eyes were watering, nose running, and breathing through my mouth was like a bellows fanning flames. That said, this is manageable. Not pleasant, but manageable.

Milk helps, but the burn returns. Same with sugar. Same with sugar poured straight in my mouth and milk swished around in it. Eventually, things settle down. But now I'm warmed up enough to drink it for real.


Test 3: One Hot Shot

After a considerable amount of psyching myself up, I toss back most of the bottle in one shot. (It's a small bottle.) I had five seconds to contemplate what I'd done and pray that I'd somehow become immune to capsaicin. And then it hit me in the face like a red-hot shovel.


The burn is exquisite. Vivid, precise, and deep. Very deep. I feel strange, woozy, and dizzy. There's a thrumming in my ears to match the throbbing in my mouth. It feels like a hallucinogen coming on. I try to tell this to Hesh, the guy shooting the video above, but apparently, the best line I could come up with is: "My stomach, is like, on fire right now." At the time, I wasn't even sure I was speaking English.

I chug more milk. I shoot more sugar. I chew more crackers. I try drinking from a garden hose. Then, the shot hits my stomach like a hot coal landed in my gut. It starts to move—it feels like angry scorpions running around inside of me. It's a gut full of misery. Hesh is waiting around for something to happen, but I tell him he can go back downstairs.


After two pints of whole milk, four packets of sugar, and a shot of thousand-degree vodka in 90-degree heat, it's only a matter of time. As soon as the coast is clear, alone on the Gawker rooftop, I do what so many summertime party guests have done in a discreet corner up there. And yes, it was spicy on its way back up, too.



This is an amazing science experiment gone wrong. It's brilliant in its brutality. I've had hotter peppers and hotter sauces, but this is the hottest booze by an enormous margin. Plus, making it a drink instead of a burrito garnish means you'll probably consume more of it—on a dare.

You and your idiot friends will buy this to test your mettle. Naga Jolokia peppers are insanely hot. Adding them to alcohol-which brings your capillaries to the surface of your skin-just amplifies the effects of ingestion. We (and Master of Malt) are here to tell you, in no uncertain terms, that drinking this stuff straight is a really, horribly stupid idea. Don't do it. But, if/when you do, for God's sake shoot a video and send it to us.


The 250,000 Scovilles Naga Chilli* Vodka will be released unto humanity on October 3rd**. It's the new best indicator that 2012 will indeed mark the end of mankind. [Master of Malt]

* Our English pals spell chili with two L's. We're pretty sure this is just to bolster their scores in Scrabble.
** You can pre-order it here.


Video by Michael Hession.
Flame Image credit: Shutterstock/EvenEzer