Caviar is one of the most exclusive delicacies in the world. Since its origin in culinary culture, caviar has been a dish fit for kings.
Caviar comes from the egg sacks of fish, namely wild sturgeon from the Caspian and Black seas. It’s a salty, fishy spread to be enjoyed by a tiny spoonful or over a crisp flatbread, washed down with a shot of fine vodka. The harvesting and vulnerability of fish roe of any kind account for its expensive nature. Still, there are some types of caviar so expensive that only royalty or millionaires can enjoy them. Read on to discover a list of the most expensive caviar in the world.
If you’re a Beluga lover, you already know that Beluga is illegal in the US. Beluga caviar is the gold standard of all caviar, coming from an endangered species that is the biggest in the world. True Beluga caviar can cost around $7000 to $22,000 per kilogram, which translates to up to $10,000 per pound. Unfortunately, they are also the oldest and take the longest to mature, which is why they aren’t a sustainable species for wild-caught caviar. Beluga sturgeon have been at risk of extinction. Beluga Hybrid Caviar is the closest caviar to the classic black beluga caviar you are going to get in the US. It is a crossbreed between Beluga and Siberian sturgeon. It thus has the flavor and texture profile of beluga, but it is smaller and more fast-growing like the Siberian sturgeon. Beluga Hybrid is a deep ebony hue with small beads and a buttery, nutty flavor profile that is less salty and fishy than Beluga.
Russian Volga Reserve Osetra Caviar
If it has “reserve” in the title, you know this is the height of rare and exclusive delicacies! Russian Volga Reserve Osetra Caviar comes from the coveted Osetra Sturgeon from the Caspian Sea. While Osetra roe comes from sturgeon aged between 10 and 20 years, the Volga Reserve comes from Osetra sturgeon aged for a minimum of 35 years. Older sturgeon are larger fish, and their roe is characterized by a softer, more delicate texture and a much stronger oceanic flavor. A mere 2 oz tin of Russian Volga Reserve Osetra Caviar costs 590 dollars!
Strottarga Bianco Caviar
Strottarga Bianco Caviar has the nickname “white gold” and comes from the roe of the ultra-rare albino sturgeon from Siberia. An Austrian fish farmer raises and breeds these Siberian sturgeon to harvest their roe, a process that takes a decade. Harvested roe gets dehydrated, reducing its yield to a fifth of its original weight. Along with dehydration, this roe gets dusted with gold flakes, living up to its nickname. One kilogram of Strottarga Bianco Caviar costs more than 110,000 dollars! Those lucky enough to have sampled a small spoonful of Strottarga Bianco Caviar rave about its rich, buttery flavor and smooth texture.
Another product of the rare Albino Sturgeon, Almas Caviar, is the rarest type of caviar roe as only one out of every 6000 sturgeons produce it. This species of albino sturgeon is from the endangered Iranian Beluga sturgeon. They have a lifespan between 60 and 100 years. The older the sturgeon, the more sought-after the caviar. At nearly a century old, this caviar is literally a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Almas Caviar has cream-colored, large beads that are nutty, creamy, and smooth without any hint of fish or ocean flavors. A kilogram of Almas Caviar costs around 35,000 dollars.
American Hackleback Caviar
Harvested from the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri rivers, American Hackleback are the smallest wild sturgeon species. When I think about what caviar looks like, American Hackleback fits the image. They are the small, hard black beaded caviar. Because these are freshwater sturgeon, you won’t get any fishiness or ocean flavor. Instead, American Hackleback Caviar delivers an utterly decadent buttery nuttiness. These are wild-caught sturgeon and cost up to $45 dollars per ounce. Since these are American-caught, they are less expensive than the older Osetra from the Caspian Sea but are just as tasty.
Iranian Osetra Caviar
From the Iranian coasts of the Caspian Sea, Iranian Osetra Caviar is an expensive delicacy encompassing various types. Osetra is a giant, prehistoric sturgeon that lives between 80 and 100 years and weighs up to 400 lbs. They are bottom-feeding fish, so the taste of each batch of caviar varies depending on the fish’s diet and weather conditions. The most expensive Iranian Osetra Caviar I found is the Prive Osetra, priced at around 1600 dollars for 500 grams. Osetra is famous for its large beads and creamy, nutty flavors. The Iranian Osetra has a slight saltiness, which I think adds complexity to the creamy nuttiness.
Kaluga Hybrid Caviar
Kaluga Hybrid Caviar is a cross between two different sturgeon species: Kaluga and Amur. Kaluga sturgeon is a cousin to Beluga, which is the most sought-after farmed sturgeon in the world. Kaluga and Amur are both freshwater sturgeon, with Kaluga being the largest freshwater species on earth, weighing up to 2000 lbs! Kaluga Hybrid Caviar has dark medium-sized beads with gold flecks. As a cousin of the Beluga, Kaluga Hybrid has a similar flavor profile with a slightly harder texture. This delicious roe can cost up to 135 dollars per ounce.
Despite caviar being the height of exclusivity and privilege, Organic Caviar reaches new heights with yet another label. Organic foods have to follow a strict set of practices pertaining to farming and harvesting. Most types of Caviar aren’t organic. However, the first Organic Caviar has recently debuted. It comes from Spain and passes the rigorous requirements demanded by the Spanish CAAE, which is the national regulatory authority on organic food. Organic Caviar encompasses two types of caviar: classical and Excellsius. The Excellsius is the higher-quality caviar harvested from the farm-grown Acipenser naccarii sturgeon. These sturgeon reach maturity around 18 years of age. A 500 gram tin costs about $1600. Their roe is larger than most with a slightly gray hue. The texture is tender and velvety with a rich flavor and an oceanic finish.
Sevruga Classic Grey Caviar
Sevruga sturgeon are native to the Caspian Sea and are one of the smaller and leaner forms of saltwater sturgeon. They exist as farmed sturgeon around Europe and even on the coasts of Florida. As the name suggests, Sevruga Classic Grey Caviar are small, light-gray pearls with silky and buttery texture and flavor. You get a salty ocean flavor note on the long finish. A 1.75 ounce jar of Sevruga Classic Grey Caviar costs a whopping $255. That’s essentially around 50 dollars for a tiny spoonful. You’ll find Sevruga Classic Grey Caviar as a menu item at the finest Michelin-starred restaurants.
Tsar Nicoulai Golden Reserve Caviar
Despite their regal Russian name, Tsar Nicoulai Golden Reserve Caviar is a brand name for eco-friendly Californian White Sturgeon roe. Tsar Nicoulai prides itself on sustainable farming and harvesting practices, so you get a high-quality product without depleting sturgeon populations or harming the environment. Tsar Nicoulai Golden Reserve Caviar are medium-sized golden-hued beads with a buttery flavor and a smooth mouthfeel. You get a slight saltiness that compliments the creamy, buttery palate. One ounce of Tsar Nicoulai Golden Reserve Caviar costs $120 dollars. This brand is one of the more accessible caviar products. You can buy tins from Amazon, Whole Foods, and many other fine wine and delicacy shops around the nation.
Imperial Golden Osetra Caviar
According to historical anecdotes, fishermen who caught an Osetra sturgeon with golden roe delivered them directly to the Tsar. Tsars may no longer exist, but this Imperial Golden Osetra remains one of the most exclusive and expensive caviar in the world. These large golden beads are shiny and smooth. They are almost crunchy, as you can feel each bead pop when you chew a small spoonful. The flavor profile is nutty and buttery, with a clean finish. Imperial Golden Osetra Caviar sells for around $210 dollars for 30 grams. I would pair this caviar with a glass of bubbly champagne for a special celebratory meal.
Golden Imperial Russian Osetra Caviar
This Golden Osetra variety lives up to its regal name. Golden Imperial Russian Osetra caviar comes from Russian sturgeon raised in the Caspian Sea, Black Sea, and Azov River basin. They are the highest grade of caviar with a light gold hue and medium-large bead size. The flavor profile is buttery and nutty, with a long, smooth finish. The texture is firm with a satisfying crunch. It’s a well-rounded caviar to eat with a spoonful or over a crispy piece of flatbread. They cost around 1200 dollars for 500 grams.