The origin of alcohol proof
So first, what is proof? Basically, proof is the percentage of alcohol in a spirit. “Proof” started as a way to ‘prove’ the alcohol wasn’t watered down. Distillers knew they could increase their profits by watering down their spirits, and so consumers began to test them. It was done in the United States with whiskey and also with British soldiers who were given rations of rum as payment.
The ‘proof’ of the pure product and not the diluted one, came in the test that combined mixing the alcohol with gunpowder and igniting it. If it burned or caused an explosion, it was considered proof and if it didn’t burn, it was ‘under proof’.
Alcohol percent by volume and alcohol proof
The proof can be calculated by taking the alcohol percent by volume and doubling it. Alcohol proof then is on a scale that goes up to 200, which means it is pure alcohol. So then the next question is: why not just use Alcohol Percent by Volume (APV)?
Because today in the US, proof is mostly used for tax reasons. Distillers pay taxes of proof gallons, or in other words, how many gallons of ethanol they produce. When producers create liquor, they are distilled at much higher concentrations than what the consumer receives. Beginning usually between 125-190 proof, the spirits are diluted with water after they are distilled and before they are bottled for consumption.
How does an alcohol’s proof effect taste?
The lower the proof, the more the product is diluted. Alcohol, in a scientific term, is a solvent that delivers flavor to the tongue. By adding more proof, which is diluting it less, you actually change the way the tongue translates the flavors. This is why certain varieties set standards on the proof content to ensure each variety of spirits holds true to it’s flavor history.
“An aperitif (the word comes from the Latin aperire, “to open”) is a light, most often dry, most often modestly alcoholic beverage meant to spark the appetite without overwhelming the senses. And while an aperitif may be as simple as a glass of dry white wine or Champagne, a true aperitif, the kind that I love, has a little more flair, more flavor, more color and–yes–a bit more sophistication.” –Jim Nelson, GQ
In fact, using a drink as an aperitif has been common throughout history to wake up your tastebuds, and allow you to taste more than you would’ve without it.When drinking Squeal Rum, the slight increase in proof will allow you to taste our spices, namely cinnamon, peach and caramel notes. These flavors likely would disappear in a more diluted product. We offer it at 90 proof so you can enjoy it over ice, in food, in your favorite beverage, or even as an aperitif- we might even say it is a bit more sophisticated. We did that all for you. Enjoy!