What Does “Alcohol Proof” Really Mean?

The proof is in the pudding…or, in this case, the rum, whisky, wine or beer! Alcohol proof almost sounds like it would be something that is impervious to alcohol, but that is not exactly the case. Alcohol proof is the amount of alcohol within an alcoholic beverage. ABV is the alcohol percentage by volume and proof is twice that percentage.

Some say it all began with pirates getting miffed that their rum was being watered down by unscrupulous merchants. Apparently the British and American governments were a bit put upon as well when underhanded farmers watered down the whisky they were producing from their corn crops.

So, you might wonder what happened next. Get this! They tested the alcohol with gunpowder and fire…no joke! The alcohol in question was poured on some gunpowder, and if the gunpowder could still be ignited or explode, it was proven not to be watered down and considered acceptable. Wow.

And, of course, it all comes down to money in the end. More modern day alcohol proof was used to determine how much alcohol could be taxed. The higher the alcohol proof, the higher the tax. The standard for tax purposes was considered to be 50% ABV, which is 100 proof. A little confusing right?

Well, if that isn’t confusing enough, alcohol proof varies widely from country to country. Our 100 proof here in the U.S. is only 50 in France and 87.6 in the U.K. Even with all the confusion, one thing is for certain, the higher the proof, the more the kick. And if you have any questions about alcohol proof or anything else related to alcoholic beverages, just ask the friendly, knowledgeable experts at Bengals Liquor in Daytona Beach. We’re always in the spirit to talk spirits!