What is moonshine classified?
1. Not all moonshine is illegal, nor is it dangerous. – Historically, moonshiners made their own liquor to avoid laws, taxes, and regulations. Without any FDA inspectors around to ensure safety and quality standards were met, bad batches or poor production techniques (think distilling in car radiators) could result in a product high in dangerous chemicals, like methanol.
Consuming methanol can acidify the blood, causing blindness, seizures, and even death. Of course, many moonshiners in these small communities had reputations to keep for their regulars — many of which were friends and neighbors. If their liquor was inferior, or people got sick or died, then the moonshiner responsible would be run out of the business.
Today, the term “moonshine” continues to be used to describe illegal liquor; but in the distilling business it has taken on another meaning. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) doesn’t offer an official definition for moonshine, so it generally covers the “other” or “specialty spirit” classification.
- Moonshine remains the Wild West of spirits, but not because of legality reasons,” says Colin Blake, Moonshine University’s Director of Spirits Education,
- Unlike other spirits, legally produced moonshine can be made with any source material, at any proof, can have coloring and flavoring added — the works.
There are no rules for its classification.” In other words, the “moonshine” label we see on spirits today is flexible. It serves as an all-encompassing term for liquor that doesn’t fall into a specifically defined category. That means the moonshine you purchase at your local liquor store is legal and safe for responsible consumption.
Where did the term proof for alcohol come from?
In an industry with plenty of confusing terminology, the nice thing about “proof” is that its liquor-related use is basically the same as its common use. When a friend tells you “I can juggle three sleeping Toucan parrots without waking them up,” you ask for proof.
- When an old time distiller is trying to sell you some corn whiskey he made in the mountains of West Virginia and says it’s “right mighty strong,” you definitely want proof,
- According to legend, the concept of “proof” comes from soldiers in the British Royal Navy, who (back in the 18 th century) had to douse their gunpowder in rum as a test of its potency.
If the wet gunpowder still ignited, it was “proof” the alcohol content was high enough, 57% ABV. If it didn’t ignite, well, you probably had some angry—and armed—British soldiers on your hands. (Another legend has it that rum needed to be at proof so that if a barrel broke on the ship, it wouldn’t render all that precious gunpowder useless.) Proof standards vary—in the U.K., the scale is different than it is in the U.S., so never buy a bottle of liquor in England assuming you know what you’re getting into.
But in the U.S., a baseline was settled on in the mid 19 th century, making a 50% alcohol by volume spirit exactly “100 proof.” Thus the doubling was born. And while most of us probably got it backwards once or twice—bragging to our friends that our dad had a 160% ABV whiskey in his liquor cabinet—by now it’s simple enough to tell.
(The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau also has certain federal labeling requirements, meaning you’ll always see alcohol percentage, though “proof” isn’t always required.) Beyond looking at the proof itself, which will—thank goodness—tell you exactly how much alcohol is in the bottle, there are a couple other terms to look out for when purchasing a hard liquor:
Cask Strength: This one’s pretty easy to remember, since it just means the spirit is bottled at the strength it was in the cask—with no added water, and so always higher than the average 40 to 50% ABV. Generally used for Scotch or bourbon whiskey, “cask strength” has recently been used for DeLeon’s 108 Proof Extra Añejo Tequila. Barrel Proof/Barrel Strength: The same as cask strength, meaning the proof is the same as it was in the barrel. Navy Strength: Can refer to gin or rum, and always indicates a stronger spirit, traditionally clocking in at 57% ABV (though it can go higher, even close to 70%) Overproof: Interchangeable with Navy Strength, indicating a gin or rum over 57% ABV. Single Cask: This one isn’t about strength, but just so it doesn’t confuse you, it means the spirit wasn’t blended from multiple casks; it’s just the product of one cask-aged spirit. Not to be confused with Single Malt, Double Barrel/Double Wood: Like Single Cask, this isn’t about strength, but the number of times a spirit was aged in wood barrels; it’s not required in labelling, but a producer might put on to suggest something about the spirit’s flavor profile or complexity.
Why is it called 80 proof?
Why Alcohol Content Is Measured in ‘Proof’ Did you ever wonder why alcohol content is measured in “proof” — and why that number differs from the other number you’ll see on your bottle of vodka and whiskey, ABV (alcohol by volume)? While alcohol by volume, or the percentage of alcohol in the liquid, is a standard measure of alcohol strength across the world (a 30 percent ABV spirit in the U.S.
- Also a 30 percent ABV spirit in France), the proof scale varies.
- And if that sounds a little fuzzy — kind of like how you might feel if you’ve had a few – here are a few facts about proof to help provide clarity: 1: Proof is so called because, back in England in the 1500s, the government would on liquor containing a higher amount alcohol.
Alcohol content was determined via a rather crude test. Basically, the government would soak a gun pellet with alcohol and try to set fire to the gunpowder. If it lit, the alcohol content in the liquor was high enough gunpowder to ignite, the liquor was to be deemed to be a “proof spirit” — as in, there was proof it contained a high amount of alcohol — and was taxed at a higher rate.2: Because this method of providing proof of alcohol content wasn’t very precise or reliable, England in 1816.
The new system involved scientifically precise measures of density and gravity and set the “proof” threshold at 57.06 percent alcohol by volume. This measure was standardized 1952. In the U.K., a 100 proof spirit is about 57 percent ABV and the ratio of proof to ABV is 4 to 7., you get the proof. Around 1980, however, the U.K.
began to adopt a straight ABV scale for labeling spirits. (Phew.) 3: In the United States, the system — — is a bit simpler: “Proof” is straight up, So a vodka, say, that is 40 percent ABV is 80 proof and one that is 45 percent ABV is 90 proof. A “proof spirit” is 100 proof (50 percent ABV) or higher.4: In France, they use a scale measured in, instead of proof.
What does proof mean in distilling?
proof, in liquor distilling, a measure of the absolute alcohol content of a distilled liquor, which is a mixture of alcohol and water. The measurement is made by determining the specific gravity of the liquor; that is, the weight per unit volume of the liquid compared to that of water.
The measurement of the alcohol content is expressed in terms that vary from country to country: specific gravity, percentage by volume of alcohol, percentage by weight of alcohol, percentage by volume of proof spirit, or by gradations on an arbitrary scale. The measurement is done at an index temperature, as specific gravity varies with temperature.
In Great Britain, the Customs and Excise Act of 1952, declared proof spirits (100 proof ) to be those in which the weight of the spirits is 12 / 13 the weight of an equal volume of distilled water at 51° F (11° C). Thus, proof spirits are 48.24 percent alcohol by weight or 57.06 percent by volume. More From Britannica distilled spirit: Designated proof
Is moonshine considered rum?
So, What Is Moonshine? – Moonshine is a distilled spirit that you will find only in the backwaters of the South. However, the tradition of distilling the spirit under the night moonlight is usually preserved inside the family. Older generations of barley, corn, rye, and sugar farmers knew their ways around makeshift fermentation and distillation methods that were more reliable than beer products that tend to have shorter shelf lives. Hence, the popularity of underground moonshine markets.
- Vaguely, moonshine can be any liquor, whiskey or rum distilled illegally.
- That means the white whiskey distillers distilled without federal and state licensing or adhering to government safety standards and tax exemption.
- And moonshine isn’t subject to much specificity.
- The black market moonshine contains all things fermentable and cannot be traced to a single or blended grain origin.
Instead, moonshine can ferment from grain, sugar, or fruit. As long as the moonshine avoids government intervention, you’ve got a nice jar of shine. However, simply put, commercial moonshine is also famed as homemade white unaged whiskey. And legally speaking, white or clear whiskey is a distilled grain rinsed inside an oak barrel into a bottled mason jar and ready to arrive on your dinner table with a kick.