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Overproof Spirits And Why They Are Popular

An overproof (or barrel strength) spirit is one that contains over 50% alcohol by volume. To put this into perspective, in the United States, a standard drink with distilled spirits is 1.5 ounces and contains about 40% alcohol. In other words, overproof spirits contain more alcohol by volume.

You might be thinking, okay then, that means it’s a very strong spirit, and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. However, people tend to associate a strong spirit with a harsh spirit. While that may be true with some brands, it isn’t the higher alcohol percentage that makes a spirit harsh. Strong, sure, but not harsh. It all comes down to how the spirit is made.

If you’ve ever tried a bottle of white overproof rum that smells and tastes harsh, it may have given you pause in ever trying it again. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “It tastes like lighter fluid!” Well, that’s because it wasn’t made very well. As with anything, not all overproof spirits are created equal. What really matters is the distillate. When done well and with attention to detail, a quality overproof spirit will have a wonderful full-bodied flavor when compared to its lower proof counterpart. It takes on the full flavor from the barrel without being diluted. This is primarily why overproof spirits have seen a rise in popularity in recent years, and it’s also why they’re likely here to stay.

As an example, our limited release Double Barrel Rum is 110 proof, containing 55% alcohol by volume. It is distilled from 100% demerara sugar and aged in new charred American oak. We carefully aged this spirit, pairing the rum with a used wine barrel, which married the brightness of our aged rum with the complex flavors of wine for an incredibly flavorful barrel strength rum. 

Besides being a great sipper, overproof spirits are also delicious in cocktails. Bartenders appreciate the fuller flavors that overproof spirits bring to classic and modern cocktail recipes, which in turn creates happy (and repeat) customers. It’s no different than preferring the more flavorful meal at your favorite restaurant. 

While overproof spirits are gaining in popularity, they are still in the minority when it comes to retail options at your local liquor store. Perhaps that is one reason why they’ve garnered special interest in recent years, as customers seek out new and unique drinks and flavors. As time goes on, you’re likely to find more of these options on the shelf, as savvy consumers push out the “harsh” overproof options in favor of carefully crafted, full flavor varieties like our Double Barrel Rum.

Written by Brianne Lucas and published on September 25, 2022.

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