What Does the Proof on Alcohol Mean?

What Does the Proof on Alcohol Mean? Alcohol is a prevalent part of many cultures, whether it’s for socializing or simply to wind down after work. Yet with all the conflicting information out there about alcohol safety, how can we know what’s true? In this blog post let us investigate the scientific evidence on alcohol consumption and its impact on our mental and physical health.

What Does Proof Mean in Alcohol?

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What Does Proof Mean in Alcohol?

When determining alcohol strength, proof is an invaluable metric. By doubling the percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV) found in a spirit or hard liquors, you can calculate its proof. Take for example spirits that are 40 percent ABV; this would make it 80-proof liquor! The higher the proof, the stronger and more potent your beverage will be – perfect for those looking to add real punch to their drinks!

Why is Alcohol Measured by Proof?

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Why is Alcohol Measured by Proof?

The use of the term “proof” to measure alcohol strength has British origins dating back centuries. In the 1500s, England used this system to tax spirits like rum according to their alcoholic content; however, there was no foolproof method for distinguishing between stronger and weaker batches of these beverages. To remedy this issue, officials developed a rudimentary technique called the “gunpowder test” wherein gunpowder was soaked in different samples of rum before being attempted ignited – if it lit up successfully then that particular batch had enough ethanol within it!

The practice of determining the alcohol content of a spirit by igniting it and observing whether or not it catches fire was how “proof” originated. If so, then this indicated that the liquor contained more than 57% ABV–the lowest amount that is combustible. In the mid-19th Century US, 50% ABV became known as 100 proof; henceforth, any distilled beverage’s strength could be determined simply by doubling its Alcohol By Volume (ABV). The modern standard for labeling spirits has nothing to do with gunpowder anymore!

Why are Beer and Wine not Measured by “Proof?”

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Why are Beer and Wine not Measured by “Proof?”

The origin of the term “proof” dates back to 16th century England when it was used for taxation purposes. Only beverages with high alcohol content were subjected to proofing and liable for taxes. However, beer and wine had an alcohol by volume (ABV) below 57%, which excluded them from this measurement system for hard liquors only. This original definition has since been passed down into modern times where its application is exclusively reserved for spirits today.

Alcohol Proof Examples

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Alcohol Proof Examples

“Proof” is a term that alludes to the amount of alcohol in distilled spirits, and typically falls within an acceptable range between 40 – 100. Even though some liquors exhibit abnormally high proofs (the likes of rum and vodka) their production is permissible by law. The normal proof for most liquor types such as gin, tequila whiskey are set at 80-proof which may differ due to various batches. Ultimately, any spirit whose proof exceeds 100 poses fire risks and must be handled with caution.


When you hear the term “70-proof,” it’s simply referring to an alcoholic beverage that contains 35% ABV. Not surprisingly, this is a typical concentration for flavored spirits and liqueurs with higher proof. On the scale of hard alcohols, 70 proof falls on the lower end because Spirits must contain a greater ABV than beer or wine (both averaging below 15%). Thus, if you’re searching for flavorsome drinks without becoming too inebriated quickly – check out some offerings at 70 Proof!


With an Alcohol by Volume of 40%, 80-proof spirits are the most popular proof measurement. The majority of rums, tequilas, gins, whiskeys, vodkas and cognacs range between 75-85 proof in accordance with U.S legal regulations. Hence making 80-proof liquor a standard across many countries around the world!

In addition, 80-proof alcohol also has historical significance. English men only tolerated alcohol 30 degrees underproof by weight in the past. This equates to around 39% ABV, which is around 80 proof.

Bottling alcohol at 80-proof also provides economic benefits. It’s cheaper to bottle 80-proof alcohol since it requires less tax. This is because bottles with higher proof will be taxed higher.


Starting at 50% ABV, the iconic 100-proof has been the standard for measuring alcoholic strength here in America. Anything lesser than this is typically seen as average; whereas anything above it is marked as strong proof.


Proof ratings that exceed 100 are considered to be high-proof. This translates to an ABV of more than 50%, a benchmark established when the current proof measurement system was reportedly unveiled. Popular varieties range from 151 up to 190 in terms of legal availability, which is situated on the uppermost scale imaginable!

Does 200-Proof Alcohol Exist?

When it comes to distilling alcohol, particularly spirits, there is a definite physical boundary. The strongest drink that you can buy in stores is Everclear at 190-proof. No matter what you do, no beverage will ever be able to pass 200 proof as anything stronger than this would not only be innately hazardous but also prohibited by law in certain areas. Thus overconsuming even the highest concentration of 190-proof alcohol should never take place and carries devastating consequences within itself!

Alcohol Proof by Type of Liquor

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Alcohol Proof by Type of Liquor

Whether you’re a fan of vodka, whiskey or gin, the proof content in any type of hard liquor can vary drastically based on its recipe and ingredients. But if you’re uncertain about which spirit to choose for your next cocktail night, here are some common average proof values for each one:

  • Rum: The alcoholic content in modern rum drinks ranges between 70-100 proof (35-50% ABV) and the most frequent concentration is usually 80-proof.
  • Cachaça: Cachaça is usually between 70-100 proof, with the majority of it being on the milder side in terms of strength.
  • Tequila: Generally, tequila bottles contain an alcohol content of 40-50% ABV (80 – 100 proof), although there are exceptions to this rule.
  • Mezcal: Boasting a robust smoky flavor, mezcal is very similar to tequila in its alcoholic proof range of 80-100.
  • Gin: Gin is traditionally crafted from 70-100 proof alcohol, resulting in a drink boasting 35-50% ABV.
  • Whiskey: An array of whiskey types exist, including scotch, rye and bourbon. Every variant usually contains an ABV that ranges from 35-50%, making them all 70-100 proof spirits.
  • Vodka: When it comes to vodka, the proof of each bottle may vary drastically; ranging from 80-190 (or 40-95% ABV).
  • Cognac: Regardless of the distiller or distillery, all varieties of cognac are 80-proof (40% ABV).
  • Liqueur: When it comes to spirits, the majority on the market usually range from 15-30% alcohol content (or 30-60 proof), with a greater concentration in the lower end..

What evidence exists that alcohol can eliminate bacteria?

We’ve all seen the movie scenes where a character pours liquor on an injury – though it’s not exactly medical advice, alcohol does have germ-killing properties. In fact, for certain wounds and infections, this method can even be more effective than hydrogen peroxide!

The CDC requires that all disinfection solutions contain at least 70 percent alcohol or 140 proof. This applies to hand sanitizers, household cleaners and wipes. Due to its incredibly high proof, liquors like Everclear can be used as a potential disinfectant because of their bacteria-eliminating power; however, doctors advise against it since pure alcohol is exceedingly dangerous and drying on the skin when applied topically.

Recent claims have suggested that drinking alcohol can be used to kill viruses such as COVID-19, but this is extremely inaccurate. Although a typical serving of hard liquor contains roughly 40 percent alcohol, the amount absorbed into your bloodstream after it has been consumed is far lower than that percentage.

Once your blood alcohol level reaches 0.08%, you are considered intoxicated, but that is still far lower than the concentration of alcohol found in sanitizers and disinfectants. Even strong liquors like Everclear at 190 proof would not be potent enough to kill a virus without killing you as well.

Related posts: how much alcohol is in a shot

Get Ready for an Unforgettable Taste Experience with these 5 High-Proof Alcohols!

Despite its bad name, not all high-proof alcohols taste like Everclear! In fact, they are a fantastic addition to any cocktail due their bold flavor profile and the ability to stand up against mixers. High-proof liquor adds balance and body that low-proof counterparts simply can’t provide. Some of the most delectable options include

  •   Plymouth Navy Strength Gin (114 Proof). Plymouth Navy Strength Gin is renowned for its bold, intense flavor and invigorating aroma. Infused with juniper berries and citrus, it’s acclaimed as one of the finest gins available today. The term ‘Navy Strength’ harkens back to when British Royal Navy soldiers would test the potency of liquor by mixing it into their gunpowder – alcohol needed to be 57% or 114 proof in order to pass this examination!
  •   Booker’s Bourbon (130 Proof). Booker Noe, the renowned master distiller of Jim Beam, originally concocted this bourbon solely for his inner circle. But realizing it was simply too delicious to keep all to himself, he eventually unleashed Booker’s Bourbon upon the public. With 65% ABV and delightful notes of vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon and maple syrup – a sip will certainly knock you off your feet in all its scrumptiousness!
  •   Smith & Cross Navy Strength Rum (114 Proof) This pot-distilled rum has a much more robust flavor than other column distilling methods. Even the bravest of hearts may find it too strong to consume by itself, however its notes of molasses, pineapple and banana make for an exquisite addition to any cocktail!
  •   Belvedere Intense 100 Proof Vodka (100 Proof). Belvedere’s 100 proof vodka is made of only the finest Polish Dankowskie rye, making it a daringly delightful sip. With hints of vanilla, cream and butterscotch on your palate, you will be sure to have an amazing time with this spirit! If you’re looking for something special to make your next cocktail night unique, pair Belvedere’s 100 proof vodka with some citrus fruits for a captivating experience that won’t soon be forgotten.
  •   Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky (100 Proof). Crafted with inspiration from Philadelphia’s iconic Rittenhouse Square, this intense rye whiskey is flavored with notes of cocoa, cinnamon, citrus, vanilla and nutmeg. Drink it neat or on the rocks for a full-bodied flavor experience! This 50 percent alcohol liquor has less proof than most other high-proof spirits but still packs an impressive punch – perfect to make unique cocktails that will impress your friends.


Is high proof alcohol better?

If you increase your proof, it means that the amount of calories in each shot is skyrocketing as well. Sure, this can sound appealing due to getting drunk faster and feeling like a party-goer; however, if you’re not careful about how much alcohol you pour for yourself or someone else, then it could lead to dangerous levels of intoxication – even potentially leading to alcohol poisoning!

What does alcohol proof indicate?

When it comes to the alcoholic content of a beverage, proof is defined as one-half of the alcohol (ethanol) percentage by volume. Say you have whisky with 50% ethanol – that would be 100 Proof Whiskey. A drink with 120-proof will comprise 60% alcohol, while 80-proof denotes 40%.

Is 70 proof liquor strong?

To get 70-proof, all you need is 35% ABV. This type of proofing level is commonly found in flavored spirits and certain stronger liqueurs. It falls on the lower end of the spectrum as it only applies to hard alcohols since these should have more potency than beers or wines which tend to be 15% ABV at most.

What does 100-proof mean with alcohol?

In the United States, we have a much more straightforward approach to ‘proof’: it’s equal to twice the amount of alcohol by volume. A vodka with 40% ABV is considered 80 proof and one with 45% ABV would be 90 proof. On top of that, any spirit 100 proof (50 percent ABV) or higher can be deemed a “proof spirit”. (Phew!)

What percentage of alcohol is best?

With a decreased alcohol percentage, you’ll notice more water in the bottle. But depending on what type of bacteria or germs you’re trying to eradicate, 70% alcohol may be even more effective as opposed to 91%, according to microbiology studies.

What is 200 proof alcohol used for?

Decon’s Pure Ethanol 200 Proof is a potent, undenatured ethyl alcohol that surpasses USP and multi-compendial standards such as EP, BP, JP. It can be utilized as a cleaner, solvent or reagent to accomplish an array of tasks.

What proof is moonshine?

Boasting a robust alcohol content, moonshine typically ranges between 100 to 150 proof. To put it into perspective, that’s equivalent to 75-percent of pure alcohol by volume. With only two glasses being more than necessary in most cases, one must be sure to imbibe responsibly when indulging in this strong and potent spirit!

Why is 70 alcohol better than 90 alcohol?

Out of the two alcohol concentrations, 70% isopropyl alcohol reigns supreme when it comes to efficiently wiping out bacteria and viruses. In general, higher levels of concentration in an alcoholic solution leads to its decreased efficacy as a sanitizer.

What is the strongest vodka?

Spirytus Rektyfikowany is the mightiest vodka in the entire world and boasts a strength that cannot be matched by any other commercially available alcohol. Experience its unmatched power for yourself!

What proof alcohol will burn?

In general, any alcoholic beverage with an alcohol content higher than 80 proof can easily be ignited. The more potent the drink is in terms of its proof level, the easier it will burn when exposed to a flame. After all, alcohol itself has flammable qualities that allow for easy combustion when heat is present.

How many shots do you need to get drunk?

Generally, three to four shots is enough for someone to become inebriated; however, this process can be expedited if the individual partaking is on the smaller side.


Now you know what does the proof on alcohol mean right? Whether it’s 80, 90 or 100 proof, the higher concentration of alcohol in any given beverage will determine its flammability and level of intoxication. Be sure to practice responsible drinking habits as high-proof spirits can lead to dangerous levels of intoxication. Now get out there and enjoy your drinks responsibly! Cheers!

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