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Gunpowder and Revelry: The Proof Test

April 12, 2012

The team over at Serious Drinks has been creating some fantastic 101 write-ups for all things booze related. These posts and the blog on the whole is one of my favorite go-tos on a daily basis. I won’t re-hash the whole article as I posted a little on the matter not too long ago but I had to share this little piece of history…

It turns out, the term “proof” comes from the historically boozey environment of the open ocean waters. The British navy offered a daily ration of Rum to the sailors on-board and naturally this meant a good estimation of a voyage was needed. Sailors had the tendency to be suspicious of the crewman divvying up the rations because diluted rum just doesn’t do the job. In order to prove that the booze was full strength, they devised a simple test. With a little gunpowder and probably a bit of revelry, the “proof” test was simple. In order to catch on fire, the rum had to be around 57% ABV or 114 proof. If it didn’t, I don’t think it was a good day to be the one in charge.

Maybe I’ll start diluting the booze for the Gatherings and see how quickly the Noblers start lighting stuff on fire…

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