The Virginia in the Civil War Message Board

Re: Whiskey & Gunpowder
In Response To: Re: Whiskey & Gunpowder ()

Sounds like what a bunch of Irish would do.

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"Trade Whiskey" was made from grain alcohol flavored with gunpowder, red pepper and tobacco.

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190 proof = 95% alcohol
100 proof = 50% alcohol
80 proof = 40% alcohol...

The story I read was that California miners tested
whiskey by mixing with gunpowder.

> 50% whiskey + gunpowder is flammable
< 50% whiskey + gunpoweder is not flammable

So 50% alcohol was " 100 proof"
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Black gunpowder was moistened with whiskey. If the powder ignited, it was proof that the liquid was at least 50% alcohol. Whiskey passing this simple test was labeled "100 Proof".

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Federal regulations specify that no whiskey can call itself bourbon unless it is manufactured within the United States according to the bourbon formula. That is, a whiskey distilled at not higher than 160 from a fermented mash of grain containing at least 51 percent corn and stored at not more than 125 proof, in new, charred, white oak barrels. Nothing may be added to bourbon except distilled water to adjust the proof. Bourbon must not be bottled below 80 proof unless otherwise noted on the label that it is diluted. Bourbon is not bourbon unless the label says so.

Proof refers to alcoholic strength, one point in proof being the equivalent of .5 percent alcohol. Therefore, one hundred proof equals 50 percent alcohol. Proof was originally determined by mixing equal quantities of liquor and gunpowder together and applying a flame. If the gunpowder failed to burn, the spirit was too weak. If it burned too brightly, it was too strong. If the mixture burned evenly, with a blue flame, it was said to have been "just right", or "100 percent proved right." Thus, the phrase, "100 percent proof" entered the American language as the standard by which the strength of distilled spirits was gauged.

http://www.wildturkeybourbon.com/faq.asp

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Brandy

To test the goodness of the rectified spirit of wine, a portion was lit on fire. If the entire contents were consumed, without leaving any impurity behind, then the liquor was good. Another, better test involved putting a little gunpowder in the bottom of the spirit; if the gunpowder took fire when the spirit was consumed, then the liquor was good. [from the 1728 Cyclopaedia]

Remember:

Claret is the liquor for boys; port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy.

I still prefer Bourbon with a splash of branch.

JR

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