Today’s whiskey drinker is absolutely spoiled. A wide variety of amber gold bottles and a watering hole at every corner.
But that wasn’t always the case. Finding the strong stuff in the early days of distillation was a challenge. Everclear? Ever NOT!
Spirits were watered down and all kinds of foolery were added. In the 16th century, the British Navy discovered a true test for solid booze: Gunpowder ignites in liquor when lit if not too watered down.
Because discovering odd sh*t is what happens when stuck on a boat for months at a time. 57.15% alcohol to be precise or having 100 degrees of proof of legit liquor.
The gunpowder test became the “proof” of a good spirit for purchasing.
Knowing a good idea when they see it, the England throne started to tax liquor based on this method. If gunpowder were set afire after poured onto the spirit, this provided “proof” of high alcohol and was taxed at a higher rate.
All the proof the future moonshining colonists needed to begin sailing west!
I’m no mathematician but 57.15% alcohol and 100 degrees creates a lot of mind numbing fractions. Thankfully, the U.S. tweaked the method to a more simplified version of the Proof System. The result is Alcohol as a percentage of volume X 2. For example, 50% Alcohol by Volume (ABV) = 100 proof.
30% ABV = 60 proof garbage cause it ain’t whiskey!
Boom! Another shot of knowledge!