Blown Over

Bigger is better for these supercharged, high-proof spirits

When spirits top 80 proof (40 percent ABV), they're often throat burners about as tasty as paint thinner. But overproof liquor doesn't have to underwhelm.

From rye to tequila to vodka, many of today's high-proof and cask-strength (undiluted) spirits are as elegant and graceful as they are powerful–on their own or mixed into cocktails. Consider them weight lifters wearing ballet slippers.

Find these spirits at your local liquor shops or online at Vinquire.com. And remember: Although these liquors possess gentle flavors, they all pack a knockout punch.

Rittenhouse Bottled-in-Bond Rye Whisky ($18) Heaven Hill's value-driven 100-proof spirit possesses a spicy, peppery bite, making it ideal with an ice cube or mixed into a Manhattan (heaven-hill.com).

Laphroaig Cask-Strength Single-Malt Scotch ($70) This Scottish distiller's whiskey is aged 10 years and released at around 110 proof, resulting in a peaty treat with subtle sea-breeze notes (laphroaig.com).

Belvedere IX Vodka ($60) The Polish company blends rye vodka with nine botanicals (ginger, cinnamon, black cherry, etc.) to create a fragrant, 100-proof potion (belvedereix.com).

Junipero Gin ($30) San Francisco's Anchor Distilling crafts this copper-distilled, 98-proof expression, which gets its aromatic complexity from a dozen botanicals (anchorbrewing.com).

1800 Select Silver Tequila ($30) Though registering at 100 proof, this lightly aged agave elixir is earthy and smooth, with hints of sweet tropical fruits (1800tequila.com).