Determining the level of alcohol in spirits - with gun powder!

Determining the level of alcohol in spirits – with gun powder!
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Determining the level of alcohol in spirits - with gun powder!
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Did you know? 

https://www.rmg.co.uk/queens-house/attractions/armada-portrait-elizabeth-iDuring the reign of Elizabeth I, the strength and quality of distilled spirits - which later years became known as “proof” or ABV (Alcohol By Volume), was determined by soaking gun powder in spirits.

  • If it exploded when ignited, it was over-proof, in other words the percentage alcohol was higher than desired;
  • If it burned steadily, it was proof, which means it contained the correct volume alcohol, and
  • if it was difficult to light, the liquor was under-proof.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a3/The_Shannon_Portrait_of_the_Hon_Robert_Boyle.jpg
Robert Boyle

“Proof” as such, though indicating a spirit’s strength and quality, could not be accurately defined until an exact method of testing was devised. An inventor, Robert Boyle, refined the principal of the proofing hydrometer in 1675, which at the time was the most accurate way to determine the volume of alcohol in a distilled spirit. Various improvements over many years resulted in the instrument which is used today. (Source: Michael Brander 1975. The Original Scotch: A History of Scotch Whisky from the Earliest Days)

  • Determining the level of alcohol in spirits – with gun powder!
  • Determining the level of alcohol in spirits – with gun powder!

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