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Anty Gin

It must be difficult for connoisseurs of exclusive spirits to ask a bartender for “the vodka made with the essence of insects” or “the rum with a note of apricot.” And it’s no less complicated to ask for the tequila with the whiff of cocoa or the bourbon with a hint of spiced pear. Ordering a drink is a lot easier (and quicker to get) when it’s made from what’s in the well behind the bar or as a less well-known call drink. Still, for those with sophisticated or self-proclaimed enlightened palates, as well as collectors and status-conscious drinkers, buying expensive alcohol is the way to go.

“We sell the multi-hundreds, the multi-thousands bottles on a fairly consistent basis,” says Glen Reid, the spirits and wine manager at Total Wine & More in Naples. “It’s anywhere from someone’s own collection to gifts—and even some for general consumption.”

Like art, alcohol preferences are subjective. Here are four options with heady status and hefty per-bottle prices:

Anty Gin (pictured above)

$300 

Where’s Anthony Bourdain when he’s needed? Recently made commercially available for the first time to buy in the United Kingdom, this small-run spirit contains about 62 red wood ants per bottle.

The elixir is the combined effort of the bespoke gin distillery Cambridge Distillery and Nordic Food Lab. Only 99 bottles of the first commercial batch were made. It’s described as having the “essence of wood ants.”

The appeal must be an acquired taste. The gin’s makers explain that red wood ants defend their homes by producing formic acid in their abdomens, and the ants’ acid produces “aromatic esters” in alcohol. It’s combined with other springtime botanicals, wood avens, nettle and alexanders seed and Bulgarian juniper.

“The market is driven as much by allocation and hype as it is from someone’s enthusiasm,” says Reid. “A lot of people just have it because they can get it, or their friend has it. For the average person, I don’t think it’s driven by their palate, it’s more driven by the name.”

Don Q Reserva de la Familia Serralles 20 years

$1,900

How is it that aging in made-in-America charred white oak barrels is conducive to vanilla and molasses-hinted rum? This newbie, initiated in 1994, has a dark amber color, and it’s smooth. It’s marketed as “sweet bright honey notes with the elegance and complexity of an ancient cognac that gives way to warm tannins and a lingering mahogany and fig finish with notes of apricot.”

Who’s to argue? Don Q Rum is part of the Destilería Serrallés spirits company originally established in Puerto Rico in the latter part of the 19th century. The Don Q brand takes its name from the Spanish literary character Don Quixote, and was launched in 1934 following Prohibition.

King of Kentucky 2021 Edition

$2,000

Dating to the late 1800s, Brown-Forman acquired the Kentucky-based brand in 1936. The bourbon was sold as a blended whiskey for more than 25 years until it was discontinued. Its return was celebrated in 2018, and it’s now in its fourth release. King of Kentucky, 130 proof, is limited. The distillery states only 33 barrels were released from two production days, 12 days apart. Bourbon with a barbecue note? With vanilla and caramel also in the mix, the 14-year-aged bourbon is described as “big and bold.” Fig, spiced pear and cinnamon-honey notes are also part of the treat.

“There are a couple of products that are limited in production,” says Denton Matheis of ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Liquors in North Fort Myers. “They’re not particularly expensive, they’re just hard to find.”

Limited to Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio and secondary markets, King of Kentucky retails for $250—but good luck finding it for anything less than about 10 times its listed price.

Limited Edition: Código 1530 13-year-aged Añejo Tequila

$3,500

If only 350 bottles are being produced, something’s up. In this instance, it’s one of the rarest tequilas, aged for 13 years and crafted in a renowned small Mexican distillery where “Los Códigos” (codes and customs) have remained the same for several centuries.

Codigo 1530’s añejo tequila is sold in a crystal bottle, cradled in a sustainably sourced and locally fabricated wooden box with a clear front sliding door. The brand’s cross logo pattern is etched into the side panels.

The tequila is made from local ripe agave and volcanic rock-filtered water, and has no other sugars, colors, flavorings or additives.

Imbibers describe the tequila’s taste as “profiles of sweet vanilla from French Oak Cabernet wine barrels, followed by a whiff of cocoa powder and cinnamon. A lingering taste of earthy peat and exotic spices follows, finishing with a complex and balanced bouquet of rich scents and flavors.”

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