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Distilled Spirits - Frequently Used Proofing Processes

Distilled spirits plant proprietors are required to determine taxes owed on spirits removed from their bonded premises. To do this, proprietors will need to "gauge" the spirits, that is, determine the quantity and proof of the spirits.

If you are a distilled spirits plant proprietor, it is important that you know how to proof your spirits correctly. Below you'll find some resources to help guide you through the proofing process.

TTB Proofing Resources

TTB Proofing Video Series

Whether you are new to the distilled spirits industry, or want to refine your process, these short, instructional videos will guide you, step-by-step, through several frequently used proofing procedures. The videos include close-ups of techniques and processes, and explain why it is important to correctly follow all of the steps involved in proofing spirits.

To determine which video(s) best apply to you and the proofing process you plan to use, please watch the introductory video. We recommend you watch the videos in order.

If you find these videos helpful, or if you have any suggestions on how to make this information more useful, we want to know about it!  Please let us know about your questions, comments or ideas by emailing the Submit Inquiry.

Introduction to Proofing Video Series

Introduction to Proofing Video Series (4:09)

TTB's Beverage Alcohol Laboratory offers a proofing video series to walk you through several frequently used procedures to proof distilled spirits correctly.

WMV (windows)

MP4 (macintosh)

Part 1 - Proofing Spirits with a Hydrometer

Part 1 - Proofing Spirits with a Hydrometer (4:29)

Learn how to proof spirits using a hydrometer; this technique is cost effective and accurate.

WMV (windows)

MP4 (macintosh)

Part 2 - Proofing Spirits with a Densitometer

Part 2 - Proofing Spirits with a Densitometer (3:19)

Learn how to proof spirits using a densitometer; this technique is fast and can be automated.

WMV (windows)

MP4 (macintosh)

Part 3 - Distilling Spirits for Proofing

Part 3 - Distilling Spirits for Proofing (4:54)

High solid spirits must be distilled before proofing. Learn how to distill samples using a small laboratory distillation unit.

WMV (windows)

MP4 (macintosh)

Part 4 - Determining Proof Obscuration by Evaporation

Part 4 - Determining Proof Obscuration by Evaporation (3:08)

Dissolved solids may obscure the true proof of a sample. Learn how to determine proof obscuration using the evaporation method.

WMV (windows)

MP4 (macintosh)

This information is being issued to help the public to understand and comply with the laws and regulations that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau administers. It is not intended to establish any new, or change any existing, definitions, interpretations, standards, or procedures regarding those laws and regulations.


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Distilled Spirits Contacts
TTB desires to maintain a high level of communication with industry members, trade associations, State governments, and other Federal agencies. For information regarding alcohol fuel, nonbeverage products, industrial alcohol, specially denatured alcohol, and tax free fuel, please view the information on the Other Alcohol pages.

Spirits Permits, Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP) or Alcohol Fuel Plant (AFP)
If you have questions regarding permits, applications, bonds, tax payments, etc., you may contact the National Revenue Center.

  • Online: Contact Us Form
  • Phone: 877-882-3277 (Toll Free)
  • Mail: TTB National Revenue Center
    550 Main Street, Room 8002
    Cincinnati OH 45202

For more information on techniques used in determining proof, you may contact the Scientific Services Division online.

Labeling Contacts

  • Online: Contact Us Form
  • Phone:  866-927-2533 (option 4)
  • Mail:  Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division
    1310 G Street, NW, Box 12
    Washington, DC 20005

Page last reviewed: October 10, 2014
Page last updated: April 15, 2019
Maintained by: Scientific Services Division