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...

Is Cask Strength the Best Way To Buy Whiskey?

Is Cask Strength the Best Way To Buy Whiskey?

Is cask strength whiskey the best whiskey? Seems like a question most people you’d ask would answer “Yes!” to right away. There’s quite a bit to consider here, however. The vast majority of whiskey bottled by distillers is watered down to 40% abv/ 80 proof. Legally to be called whiskey, you have to be at least 80 proof. (There is an allowance of three tenths of a degree for loss of proof during bottling, but anything lower than that must be labeled “diluted whiskey”.) Whiskeys go into a cask/barrel at no more than 125 proof, so most cask strengths are going to be near that (60-65% alcohol) when bottled. Barrels, depending on where they are stored in a warehouse, may loose alcohol (or water) and volume to the angel’s share which alters their original barreling...