Top 10 Most Expensive Liquids in the World and Why


Top-10-Most-Expensive-Liquids

The world is full of liquids, from free-flowing freshwater rivers to alcohol-rich wines. But while the water flowing from your kitchen tap might cost mere pennies, some fluids cost millions (sometimes billions). But what are the most expensive liquids in the world, and why are they so costly?

The most expensive liquid in the world is Zolgensma, a gene therapy drug that costs $1.706 billion per gallon. A single dose costs $2.48 million, making it the costliest drug ever created. Yet, thus far, it’s the most effective drug for treating spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

This ranking will explore which fluids are priciest and discuss why they cost so much.

Here Are the Top 10 Most Expensive Liquids in the World:

  1. Zolgensma – $1.706 billion per gallon
  2. Scorpion Venom – $39 million per gallon
  3. The Macallan 1926 – $9.589 million per gallon
  4. Big Star’s Semen – $4.7 million per gallon
  5. Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) – $3.785 million per gallon
  6. 1945 Romanée-Conti Grand Cru – $2.79 million per gallon
  7. Hennessy Beaute du Siecle Cognac – $780,000 per gallon
  8. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Haute Couture – $188,288 per gallon
  9. King Cobra Venom – $153,000 per gallon
  10. Insulin – $113,562 per gallon

10. Insulin – $113,562 Per Gallon

Insulin

Insulin is a life-saving drug for those with diabetes, but it’s one of the most expensive fluids in the world, especially in the United States.

Though a single vial (approximately 10 milliliters or 1,000 insulin units) only costs an average of $4 to produce, the average price-per-unit hovers around $0.30. That’s $300 per vial or about $113,562 per gallon.

But if this medicine is so relatively inexpensive to produce, why is it one of the costliest liquids?

Why It’s Expensive

In the United States, insulin production is an oligopoly. Only a handful of companies are responsible for producing and selling insulin. Sadly, this means that producers can charge any price they’d like for this life-saving liquid, as there are virtually no competitors.

So, to sum it up, the greed of a select few pharmaceutical companies is the primary reason insulin is one of the most expensive liquids in the world (but mostly just in the United States).

9. King Cobra Venom – $153,000 Per Gallon

Cobra-Venom

It might seem strange that a deadly toxin is one of the most expensive liquids, but here we are. The king cobra’s venom (Ophiophagus hannah) is both potentially fatal and potentially life-saving, and acquiring it is a particularly hazardous task.

You see, the only way to create an antivenom (a solution used to treat venomous bites and stings) for a king cobra bite is to inject a non-lethal amount of venom into a healthy animal, then harvest the creature’s antibodies. In short, this snake’s venom is the primary component in creating a cure for its venom.

Still, the king cobra (the longest venomous snake) only releases up to 500 milligrams of venom per bite. So to generate a gallon of poison, you’d need to solicit about 7,570 bites. As you might imagine, this isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Why It’s Expensive

King cobra venom is used to create life-saving antivenom, but safely handling one of the massive snakes and getting it to bite down onto a venom-retrieving jar is challenging.

Because these snakes only release about half a gram of toxin per bite, acquiring a gallon is time-consuming and highly treacherous. Likely, this combination of scarcity and high-paid labor (hazard pay probably applies) makes king cobra venom one of the costliest liquids on the planet.

8. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Haute Couture – $188,288 Per Gallon

Viktor-&-Rolf-Flowerbomb-Haute-Couture
photo source: Viktor & Rolf

Chanel No.5 is often lauded as the most expensive perfume in the world, but this isn’t necessarily true. While Chanel No.5 is one of the priciest fragrances, costing $477 per ounce, it’s far more affordable than Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Haute Couture, which costs a whopping $1,472 per ounce.

When you convert this per-ounce price to gallons, you wind up with a staggering sum of $188,288. But what, exactly, makes this luxury-grade perfume so outrageously pricey?

Why It’s Expensive

There are two crucial reasons Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Haute Couture is the most expensive liquid perfume. Firstly, Viktor & Rolf only produced 15 bottles of this fragrance. So, supply is extremely limited.

Secondly, Viktor & Rolf is a prominent name within the fashion industry. As a result, perfumes that boast this brand name can sell at much higher prices than standard store-bought fragrances, as customers are more willing to spend more to enjoy a luxury-quality product.

7. Hennessy Beaute du Siecle Cognac – $780,000 Per Gallon

Hennessy-Beaute-du-Siecle-Cognac
photo source: Festivals of Speed

Though Hennessy Beaute du Siecle isn’t the most expensive cognac bottle in the world, the liquid inside might as well be made of gold. After all, it’s the costliest cognac money can buy.

A 1000 milliliter bottle of this stuff will cost you $206,000. So in terms of price-per-gallon, that works out to about $780,000.

While some of this tremendous cost is attributable to the bottle’s decadent trappings (it comes in a specially-made chest), there’s also something to be said for this liquor’s rarity. Only a hundred of these limited-edition versions were released in 2007, making them a scarce find nowadays.

Fortunately, unlike wine, hard liquors like cognac don’t tend to degrade over time when left unopened. So those lucky enough to find a sealed bottle of this decadent drink available for sale may be in for quite a treat.

Why It’s Expensive

This bottle of cognac looks like it was designed for royalty. It arrives in a shimmering aluminum chest and is flanked by four drinking glasses, each with gold leaf adornments trailing along their bases.

These features alone help make it one of the most expensive cognacs ever made. Still, the limited availability of this rich liquor also boosts its value.

6. 1945 Romanée-Conti Grand Cru – $2.79 Million Per Gallon

1945-Romanée-Conti-Grand-Cru
photo source: Decanter

Medicine, venom, and perfume aren’t the only costly liquids. In fact, many of the most expensive fluids are alcoholic beverages! But the honor of the most expensive wine goes to Domaine De La Romanée-Conti (DRC) and their Romanée-Conti Grand Cru.

DRC has produced exquisite wines since the late 1800s. But the Romanée-Conti Grand Cru tends to fetch the highest prices.

A 750 milliliter bottle of 2015 Romanée-Conti Grand Cru can cost $24,954 or more. But that’s still a good deal less than the 1945 vintage, one of which was auctioned off for $558,000 at a Sotheby’s auction in 2018.

It would take approximately five bottles of this vintage wine to generate one gallon. That equates to a stunning $2,790,000 per gallon.

Why It’s Expensive

It’s challenging to find an intact bottle of wine that dates back to the end of World War II. It’s even trickier to find a bottle belonging to one of the most beloved wine producers in Europe.

The 1945 vintage of DRC’s Romanée-Conti Grand Cru is the rare exception, and few bottles from this year remain. So, it’s no wonder interested wine lovers are willing to pay such a high price for this historically-significant bottle of wine.

5. Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) – $3.785 million Per Gallon

liquid-lysergic-acid-diethylamide
photo source: Pro Online Pharma

Lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD, is a Schedule I drug, making it more illegal than illicit substances like cocaine and methamphetamine. Surprisingly, it’s also the costliest recreational liquid drug in the world, with a price-per-gallon of $124,000.

But the high price of this hallucinogenic fluid is far less shocking when you consider how challenging (and felonious) it is to create. Only the most knowledgeable and talented chemists can create LSD, and in the United States, they’re forbidden to do so unless given express permission from the federal government.

Why It’s Expensive

One dose of LSD equates to an average of 100 micrograms. For reference, that’s 1/10,000 of a gram, and there are 3,785.41 grams in a gallon.

As such, one gallon of this substance would equal approximately 37,854,100 doses. Wholesale costs for this drug averaged $1,000 per gram in 2001, equalling $3.785 million per gallon.

In short, this liquid is expensive because it’s challenging to make, illegal, and doses are tiny. Creating a gallon isn’t only a dangerous thing to do. It’s also time-consuming, expensive, and a capital felony.

4. Big Star’s Semen – $4.7 Million Per Gallon

Big-Star-Horse
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The horse industry generates more than $100 billion each year. However, without horse breeders, this figure would likely be much smaller.

That’s because artificial insemination allows breeders to impregnate several female horses (mares) in a short amount of time. As a result, it’s a cost-effective way to produce the next generation of high-quality horses.

Additionally, horse owners can select sperm from prize-winning stallions, ensuring a healthy and potentially financially viable collection of offspring. But in the horse industry, one stallion sits at the top of the fertility charts—Big Star.

This champion horse’s genetic material is a precious resource, and it’s only available via Spy Coast Farm, a breeder in Lexington, Kentucky. A gallon of Big Star’s semen costs $4.7 million!

Still, passionate breeders may be willing to pony up and spend the dough to own some, especially after considering the stallion’s many accomplishments and accolades.

Why It’s Expensive

Lineage is a crucial aspect of breeding animals, and it’s particularly vital to horse breeders. Most breeders aim to ensure that future generations are always healthier and more capable than those who came before, and that often means paying for top-notch genetic material.

Big Star has competed in the Olympics and won multiple championships, making his genetic contributions a valuable commodity for breeders looking to produce strong, prize-winning stallions.

3. The Macallan 1926 – $9.589 Million Per Gallon

The-Macallan-1926
photo source: Sotheby’s

The most expensive beer costs about $1,400 per gallon. That’s almost cheap compared to the priciest bottle of scotch, The Macallan 1926.

This liquor is the stuff of legends. It’s more than half a century old and one of the rarest bottles of scotch on the planet. It might also be the most expensive single-malt scotch ever made.

A single bottle sold for $1.9 million at auction in 2019. Each bottle of this liquor contains 750 milliliters of golden-brown ambrosia. If you were to price The Macallan 1926 by the gallon, the final price would come to $9.589 million.

Why It’s Expensive

This scotch was aged for 60 years (starting in 1926) in an oak cask. But that cask only produced 40 bottles, making the supply of this high-end single-malt scotch fantastically limited.

Discerning scotch enthusiasts looking to experience one of the most sought-after options are likely to pay exorbitant prices for the opportunity to sip this beverage. Overall, the classic relationship between supply and demand is why this liquid is so costly.

2. Scorpion Venom – $39 Million Per Gallon

Venom-being-milked-from-a-scorpion
photo source: Newsweek

King cobra venom might garner more than $150,000 per gallon, but it’s comparatively cheap when you consider the cost of scorpion venom. This hazardous liquid is priced at $39 million per gallon, making it the most expensive naturally-derived substance on the planet!

But while you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of an angry scorpion’s barbed tail, this venom has some beneficial applications.

For example, scorpion venom may help lessen the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and some types of scorpions may produce toxins with antibacterial properties. Still, more research is required to confirm the beneficial uses of this all-natural poison.

That’s easier said than done, as scorpions only release a tiny drop of venom when provoked—as such, acquiring an entire gallon is a near-impossible feat.

Why It’s Expensive

A single scorpion only produces a few drops (approximately 0.002 grams) of venom each day. But scorpion venom is increasingly in demand due to its potential usage as a medicinal product. As such, supply is consistently low, but demand is rising.

This relationship between minimal supply and increasing demand means that prices are only likely to increase. The only way that scorpion venom might become more affordable in the future is if someone were to invent an automated scorpion-milking machine that could handle millions of scorpions per day.

1. Zolgensma – $1.706 Billion Per Gallon

Zolgensma
photo source: Pharmaceutical Technology

The most expensive liquid in the world is Zolgensma, a liquid medication that can alter a patient’s genes. It’s primarily used to help young children overcome spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). It’s the most expensive prescription medication ever created.

The recommended dosage is 5.5 milliliters. Because a single dose costs $2.48 million, that works out to more than a billion dollars per gallon.

Unfortunately, this high price makes the drug practically unaffordable for many parents of infants and children who could benefit from it. Still, Novartis (the company responsible for producing the drug) has provided some free doses via their Global Managed Access Program.

Still, why is this drug so incredibly expensive?

Why It’s Expensive

Producing this gene therapy drug is incredibly costly, and the cost of production is the primary reason Zolgensma is so expensive. Unlike common inherited conditions and diseases (like sickle cell anemia), spinal muscular atrophy is comparatively rare.

This relative rarity means that the demand for Zolgensma is well below the demand for other life-saving medications. As such, the cost of production outweighs the potential profit, resulting in record-breaking prices.

What Is the Most Expensive Liquid in the World?

The most expensive liquid is Zolgensma, a prescription drug approved by the FDA in 2019. It’s about 9,900 times more costly than insulin. This medication is one of less than two dozen FDA-approved gene therapy drugs.

The primary reason why Zolgensma is so costly is that it’s the only gene therapy drug of its kind. It’s also the most effective treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), particularly in children. Additionally, production isn’t cheap.

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Eric Lyons

Eric is a subject-matter expert on the world's most expensive luxuries and collectibles. He has explored thousands of luxuries and collectibles over the past few years and now brings them to readers around the world.

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