Gunpowder proof gin

Discussion in 'Non-Pyro chat' started by hofnerite, Jul 6, 2019.

  1. hofnerite

    hofnerite UKFR Stash Photo 2018 Winner! Supports UKFR

    Found some of this in Elveden today. Shame it's just a miniature, but had to buy it anyway. ;)
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  2. Pyro Pete

    Pyro Pete Forum Editor

    Good find. What does 57% proof actually taste like though?
  3. hofnerite

    hofnerite UKFR Stash Photo 2018 Winner! Supports UKFR

    I'll let you know when I've drunk it... if I can still see.
  4. Daveandkate

    Daveandkate Pro Firer/Crew Supports UKFR

    Like bloody rocket fuel they had this at fuerteventura and to say I had to be told what happened the previous night
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  5. elmo

    elmo Pro Firer/Crew

    Aviation fuel !!!
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  6. Jon

    Jon Pro Firer/Crew

    Is that proof though? It says volume. I thought proof was twice the volume of ethanol. So 25% volume would be 50 proof?
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  7. Cullann

    Cullann Pro Firer/Crew

    Surely gunpowder proof should be 75/15/10%
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  8. hofnerite

    hofnerite UKFR Stash Photo 2018 Winner! Supports UKFR

    I assumed it was linked to the old naval strength used on warships so that if a cannonball spilled a barrel of it into the powder room the gunpowder would still ignite. Less than that % and it wouldn't light.
  9. RocketRev

    RocketRev Moderator Supports UKFR

    From the script of the whisky tastings / talks that I do... for UK spirits....

    Proof - The Customs and Excise Act of 1952 defined spirits of proof strength in the following terms: "Spirits shall be deemed to be at proof if the volume of the ethyl alcohol contained therein made up to the volume of the spirits with distilled water has a weight equal to that of twelve-thirteenths of a volume of distilled water equal to the volume of the spirits, the volume of each liquid being computed at 51 degrees Fahrenheit."

    Testing of proof:- proof - a very complex definition. Before 1800 tested like this:- used to be done by mixing the spirit with gunpowder. A lighted taper was applied & if it burned steadily it was "proved" to be strong enough or proof. If it failed to ignite, then it wasn't strong enough, it was under proof. If, however, it exploded, it was over proof. According to the degree system of measurement, proof is 100º. Nowadays we tend to measure things in % alcohol by volume - far simpler. Proof strength has 57.1% alcohol by volume.

    Hence the "Gunpowder strength" gin at 57.15% by volume.

    And @hofnerite is correct in that it is said to have come from our Royal Navy's desire to make sure that its ships could still fight if an enemy shot burst the spirits barrels and soaked the gunpowder. It was necessary to prove that the spirits were strong enough to be allowed on board. Of course, it also became a good test to see if your drink had been watered down..... the sailors could use it to make sure their rum ration was as it should be and the officers could make sure their gin was up to strength.

    (By the way, in the USA the system used gives 100º proof at 50% alcohol by volume. So if you see things labelled in degrees, remember British spirits are stronger than American ones! This has caught a few holidaying Americans out who didn't realised quite how much they'd drunk - with "entertaining" results! And left a few disappointed Brits holidaying in the USA feeling their drinks had been watered down.)
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
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  10. hofnerite

    hofnerite UKFR Stash Photo 2018 Winner! Supports UKFR

    Thanks @RocketRev!
    I used to live in Portsmouth in my drinking days and it was always funny when the US Navy were out trying to out do us or play pool with us for drinks.
    We always convinced then to try the cider (local scrumpy at about 8%). A few of those and they were done by about 8 o' clock!
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  11. RocketRev

    RocketRev Moderator Supports UKFR

    Jon, it looks like you've learnt the USA system where 25% alcohol by volume = 50º proof and 50% alcohol by volume = 100º proof. So a gin (or rum or whisky or bourbon etc.) of USA 100º proof isn't strong enough to pass our old gunpowder strength proving test. It wouldn't be good enough for our Royal Navy of old or for us pyrotechnicians with an interest in such things! For the UK, "proof strength" still scores 100 on our degree system, but for spirits to score 100 here they have to pass the gunpowder test. (Or the equivalent using some neat technology gizmo that measures such things safely without explosion hazard!). So a UK 100º proof = 57.1% alcohol by volume = USA 103.5º proof.

    You can see why the world has standardised on the alcohol by volume % system! The USA degree system is arithmetically more straightforward than ours, but not as meaningful or as interesting in my opinion. Even so, things aren't all that simple as you can see from the 1952 Customs Act definition that I quoted. It takes into account that things expand and contract as temperature changes..... and that different substances (e.g. water and alcohol in this case) do so by different amounts. So I suppose there's still room for variations in alcohol strength around the world.
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  12. Jon

    Jon Pro Firer/Crew

    Brilliant posts @RocketRev, I had no idea the two systems were different....all these years..... :p good job I don't drink anyway else I could have been dead....