Proof of Proof? History of Proof vs. ABV

Did you know that “proof” of alcohol content used to be proven with gunpowder? The term proof probably originated in the 16th century. Soldiers had no tools to determine whether their rum was good quality, so they employed the use of gunpowder! They realized (quite ingeniously) that the gunpowder would only light if the level of alcohol content in the solution was 50% or more. Lower alcohol content and the gunpowder wouldn’t light. Higher content and it would light a bit too well! Here was 100% “proof” that the rum was just over 50% alcohol by volume(ABV). This way of determining proof helped to establish the system we use now. The gunpowder test was officially replaced in Europe in 1816. Specific hydrometer readings found that 100 proof whiskey was exactly...