When it comes to enjoying the finer things in life, few indulgences rival the satisfaction of savoring top shelf liquors. The term "top shelf liquors" conjures images of sophistication and luxury, evoking the allure of bottles that grace the highest shelves behind prestigious bars. But what exactly qualifies as a top shelf liquor, and why do they hold such esteemed status in the world of spirits? Let's delve into the realm of premium libations and uncover the essence of top shelf quality.


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What are top shelf liquors

Top shelf liquors

Top shelf liquors are the epitome of opulence, occupying the uppermost shelves where they catch the eye of discerning patrons. While there's no strict monetary threshold, these bottles typically retail for £40 or more, embodying a level of craftsmanship and refinement that sets them apart from their counterparts.

Mid-shelf liquors

Mid shelf liquors, on the other hand, occupy the lower half of the bartender's arsenal, offering a balance between quality and affordability. Falling within the £15–£40 range, these spirits cater to those seeking premium taste without breaking the bank.

Bottom shelf liquors

And then there's the bottom shelf, a bit of a misnomer in the world of top shelf liquors. Spirits in this category aren't typically displayed on the shelves at all; instead, they're tucked away in the well or rail beneath the bar, easily accessible for quick pours. While they may lack the prestige of their top shelf counterparts, bottom shelf liquors serve their purpose, providing a more economical option for mixed drinks and cocktails.

Do top shelf liquors matter

In a word: absolutely. While it's true that personal preferences play a significant role in selecting spirits, top shelf liquors offer an unparalleled drinking experience that transcends mere taste. From the meticulously crafted blends to the exquisite packaging and branding, every aspect of a top shelf liquor exudes sophistication and class. Whether enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or as the foundation of a cocktail, the quality of a top shelf liquor elevates the entire drinking experience, leaving a lasting impression on connoisseurs and novices alike.

Best top shelf liquors


Cognac is a type of brandy that originates from the Cognac region of France. It is made from white wine grapes, primarily Ugni Blanc, which are double distilled in copper pot stills and aged in oak barrels. Cognac is known for its rich and complex flavor profile, which often includes notes of dried fruit, oak, caramel, and spice. It is typically enjoyed neat or as a key ingredient in classic cocktails such as the Sidecar or the French 75.

Our pick: Hennessy Paradis Imperial Cognac

As a symbol of luxury and prestige, Hennessy Paradis Imperial Cognac exudes elegance from the first pour to the last drop. Blending over 100 eaux-de-vie, this exquisite cognac reveals layers of complexity, with flavors of jasmine, orange blossom, and delicate spices tantalizing the senses.


Gin is a spirit that derives its predominant flavor from juniper berries and other botanicals. It is typically made by distilling neutral grain alcohol with juniper berries and a variety of other botanicals, such as coriander, citrus peel, and spices. The resulting spirit can vary widely in flavor, ranging from crisp and floral to bold and aromatic. Gin is a versatile spirit that is commonly used in cocktails such as the Gin and Tonic, Martini, and Negroni.

Our pick: Hendrick's Gin

Distilled in small batches in Scotland, Hendrick's Gin is renowned for its unique infusion of cucumber and rose petals, imparting a distinctive floral aroma and refreshing taste. Perfect for both classic cocktails and innovative creations, this top shelf gin adds a touch of sophistication to any libation.

Scotch whisky

Scotch whisky is a type of whisky that is made in Scotland. It is typically made from malted barley and aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years. Scotch whisky is known for its diverse range of styles, which can vary depending on factors such as the region of production, the type of grain used, and the aging process. Common flavor profiles include smoky, peaty, fruity, and floral. Scotch whisky can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or as a component in cocktails such as the Scotch Sour or Rob Roy.

Our pick: Glenfiddich 18-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Aged to perfection in oak barrels, Glenfiddich's 18-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky embodies the epitome of refinement. With notes of oak, honey, and dried fruit, this distinguished whisky offers a sensory journey that delights the palate with every sip.


Vodka is a neutral spirit that is typically made from grains such as wheat, rye, or barley, though it can also be made from potatoes, grapes, or other starch-rich plants. It is distilled multiple times to achieve a high level of purity and is often filtered through charcoal to remove impurities and impart a smooth texture. Vodka is characterized by its clean and neutral flavor profile, making it a versatile base for cocktails such as the Vodka Martini, Bloody Mary, and Moscow Mule.

Our pick: Belvedere Vodka

Belvedere Vodka stands as a shining example of top shelf excellence. Distilled from Polish rye and pristine water, this award-winning spirit boasts unparalleled smoothness and character, making it a staple in any discerning drinker's collection.


Tequila is a spirit that is made from the fermented juice of the blue agave plant, primarily in the Tequila region of Mexico. It is typically distilled twice in copper pot stills and aged in oak barrels for varying lengths of time, depending on the desired style. Tequila is known for its unique flavor profile, which can range from earthy and vegetal to sweet and fruity. It is commonly enjoyed neat or in cocktails such as the Margarita, Paloma, and Tequila Sunrise.

Our pick: Patrón Silver Tequila

Crafted using traditional methods in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, Patrón Silver Tequila is renowned for its smoothness and purity. With hints of citrus and a crisp, clean finish, this top shelf tequila elevates any cocktail to new heights of sophistication.

If you enjoyed this article, you'll definitely like our pick of the best top shelf whisky brands.