Re: proof vial
- --- In email@example.com, "rocahaja" <rocahaja@y...>
> Is anyone familiar with the use of the old time "proof vials" If
> exactly how were they used?Proof vials were small glass containers into which a sample of the
spirit from the still was placed. Then the container or 'vial' was
covered and shaken vigorously, or 'thumped' in the palm of the
hand. If bubbles formed, or 'beaded' along the container's edge,
then the sample was at least 'proof' strength. If the bubbles were
large and uniform, the sample was considered to be 'heart run'. If
no bubbles formed, then the run was finished as the liquor coming
across was now underproof. The rest was kept as tails to be added
to the next 'second runnings'. A further use for the 'proof vial'
was to determine how much to cut the spirit for drinking and
transportation. A sample placed in the vial had a small measure of
water added, then the vial was 'thumped' three times in the hand.
This process was repeated until the bubbles or 'beading' would not
hold up. The alcohol was then fit to drink, or be shipped as it
could now withstand any bumping and jostling which the oldtimers
swear 'bruised' the whiskey.
Many forms of telling 'proof' were used before the universal
adoption of hydrometers. One of the oldest of these dated from
the fifteenth century and worked by the addition of oil of a certain
density to the liquor. The analysis was simple: if the spirit was
strong, the oil sank; if it was weak, the oil floated. Another early
method of finding proof involved pouring some spirit onto a little
gunpowder and then igniting it: if at the end of the combustion the
powder went off with a little explosion, the spirit was held to be
proof; if it burnt steadily, it was classed above proof; if it
wouldn't ignite, ther was too much water in it and it was under
proof. The 'proof vial' aka "crown' or 'bead' vial was in common
use throughout the eighteenth century by the excise men,
or 'gaugers' to determine taxes on the distilleries and wholesalers.