Four high test whiskies made the scene at our Tuesday tasting: Fighting Cock [we’re not kidding] (103 proof), Baker’s 7 year old (107 proof), Noah’s Mill (114.3 proof), and Booker’s 7 years 4 months old (129.1 proof).
Some background: By law, American whiskey must have the “proof” printed on its label. It’s a statement of what percentage of the liquid contains alcohol. For example, an 80 proof whiskey is 40 percent alcohol by volume (often abbreviated as ABV). Simply put, the ABV is half the proof statement.
So, why use the term “proof” at all and not just state the ABV? Tradition, I suppose. If you know better, please tell us. In the USA, whiskey must be a minimum of 80 proof (40 percent ABV) and less than 160 proof (80 percent ABV). Some makers dilute their whiskey with water after aging, some sell their hooch as cask strength at the proof it comes out of the barrel.
Most brands print both the proof and the ABV, so you don’t need to figure out the math after a glass or two. Whiskey helps most things in life, but definitely not others. Arithmetic and surgery come to mind.
The whiskies at the tasting last night were definitely all on the upper high end for proof, and it so happens that a few were absolutely delicious. Concentrated fruit and wood mixed with honey, butter, and toffee. Very spicy, too. Cut with a little cool water, they shined even more. Value for money. More delicious complex booze needing less water for less cash. What’s not to like?