A Conversation for Alcohol

"Proof"

Post 1

Kes

The origin of the term "Proof" spirit comes from the need for a simple test to identify a spirit with an unusually high alcohol content.

Excise is levied against alcohol content, so unscrupulous importers would further distill their spirit (increasing the proportion of alcohol in the distillate, and put it back in the barrel. The Excise men required a simple proof of whether the alcohol was over-strength. Here's the proof:

"Normal" spirits are about 40% alcohol by volume. If you pour them onto some gunpowder, and try to light it, the alcohol will burn, but the gunpowder won't go off (too wet). However, if the alcohol content is 57% or greater ....BANG! ...and there's your "proof". So, originally, 100 degree "proof" spirit meant 57% alcohol. In recent years, 100 degrees proof got re-aligned to 50% alcohol ... for no good reason.


"Proof"

Post 2

Mullet

As this last posting points out proff is measured in degrees, not % as is stated in the main entry. Sorry, but I can be very picky about these things.


"Proof"

Post 3

Mullet

Anyone wishing to correct me for spelling proof as "proff" in that last post please feel free.


"Proof"

Post 4

FordsTowel

Hi, Mullet,
Thanks for the clarification!
By the way, I think you meant 'proof', not 'proff', in your previous entry.
Always one to oblige. smiley - winkeye
smiley - towel


"Proof"

Post 5

Mullet

I'd forgotten about this! I posted that correction only a couple of days after joining h2g2.

I think there mihgt be a mistake on the rum entry when they mention 98%abv. It must be 98 degrees. I'll have to go and correct them...


"Proof"

Post 6

FordsTowel

LOL, Mullet, how quick we forget.

I just couldn't resist the invitation. I was surprised not to see twenty or thirty notes like mine.

Speaking of forgetting, and I think we were, I often read entries like that on 'Proof' and have a vague memory of being exposed to the information. But, if you had asked me, I would probably not have recalled the gunpowder bit at all.

It's too bad that our brains, amazing as they are at storage, are so often poor at retrieval.

smiley - towel


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"Proof"

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