Am I being sold bad liquor?

I’ve got a 1.75 ltr bottle of 80 proof rum in my freezer with about an inch of liquid left in it. It’s frozen to a slushy consistency, such that it can’t be poured. My reading on the web says that it would need to get considerable cold in my freezer for this to occur. The thermometer in there says 15 degrees.

The box isn’t working well and the freezer needs to be that low or the refrigerator goes above 45 degrees. The bottle also slushed up when it was nearly full, but hasn’t done so in the month or so since.

Am I being sold watered-down hootch? It’s not Bacardi, but it’s a decent mid-level brand in a glass bottle. I mix it with tonic so I would have been harder to notice that it was watered down.

I think it’s highly unlikely anyone selling liquor in the US at commercial volumes would be doing so at other than the labeled proof, otherwise they would be seriously violating federal law.

It’s also highly unlikely that my refrigerator/freezer is dipping down to minus 50 degrees or whatever it would take to freeze a 40% ethanol solution.

Got any kids around the house at any time? I know if my parents (or those of some of my friends) would have ever tried putting any of their booze in the freezer, they would have had similar results. :smiley:

An excellent thought, but no kids around. I guess I’m looking for a definitive answer on what temperature would be necessary to freeze an ethanol mix.

It hasn’t been a constant problem, so it would seem that the freezer has uneven cooling cycles. The door to both the fridge and freezer are being opened roughly the same amount - maybe twice a day for the freezer, three or four for the fridge. I’ve had flaky refrigerators before but nothing that could freeze a bottle of liquor. I like to keep it in the freezer because I like my drinks cold and without ice.

Link to a previous thread - http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=184326

Ringo’s post has a list of freezing points for different alcohol percentages.

If you really want to know the proof, you can buy yourself an alcohol hydrometer and test it yourself. Homebrew stores usually sell them, but you have to make sure you get one for distilled spirits. The regular hydrometers used for beer and wine are different.

Have you left the bottle out and open for any length of time? My guess is that the small amount of booze left in your big bottle has become diluted by a combination of alcohol evaporation and condensation forming on the inside of the bottle when it’s open out of the freezer. The cold bottle would facilitate condensation especially.

Thanks, you gave me inspiration for a new tune…BAD LIQUOR. :smiley:

Queen meets Poison

I’ll second this. Chances are your booze is no longer the listed proof.

Buy another bottle of the same stuff and set it in the freezer next to this one and see how it goes. Heck, you’re almost out, anyway…

No, I never leave it out for any length of time but I guess it’s still possible for condensation to form over the course of three or four minutes. That’s a worthy suggestion. That previous thread looks like it has some useful information as well and I’ll read it thoroughly.

More liquor is a tempting idea but I like to take a month off after emptying a bottle. Keeps me from getting accustomed to drinking every day. It’s getting warm now so I’ll probably switch to beer on the next cycle.

I think it’s related to there only being an inch of liquid left in the bottle, so it freezes more readily than a full bottle would, and that only an inch in the bottom of the bottle leaves a lot of air for the remaining alcohol to evaporate into, thus reducing alcohol content.

This is the type of hydrometer. They should cost about $5-$10. There’s a bunch on the internet that are over $50, but I don’t know what the deal with that is. I bought one of those a couple years ago to test some grain alcohol (there was conflicting information on the bottle as to whether it was 192 proof or 151. Turned out the former.) And also to test some homemade fruit-based hooch we were gifted (which clocked in at 135 proof.) If you really want to know if you’re getting screwed, that’s the definitive way.

This was my first thought, which could be, especially if you keep the booze in the freezer as condensation could form quickly.

But also if the cap was not sealed tight enough in the freezer, over a long time you would lose alcohol and gain water. Just the natural on-off nature of the freezer cycle, plus the open/close door ‘cycling’ would cause temperature differences inside the bottle compared to the outside, even if the bottle was ‘almost sealed’ any temperature differences/cycling would cause a slight pressure difference which if there was a way to equalize the pressure there goes your booze, sort of another form of the angel’s share.

I’m betting some variation on this. Warm it up and put it into a sealed baggie with most of the air forced out and see if the slushiness level is the same.

At 15F and 40% (v/v) (80 proof) alcohol will come into equilibrium with 75% v/v vapor in the bottle space above the liquid.

So this gives some credence to the idea of liquor preferentially losing alcohol over time especially if the bottle is left open or if the vapor space is large.

As to the freezing point of alcohol water mixture - here’s a table

http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/ethanol-water-d_989.html

You’ll see from the table that you need around -10F to freeze 80 proof alcohol.

In that case, that’s not really outside the range of household freezers. I think mine can get down to -10. What’s surprising, though, is the OP’s thermometer saying 15 for the freezer. That’s pretty high for a freezer, at least a standard American one. The general recommendation is 0F for a freezer.

It maybe saying 15 degrees below 0 or -15 degrees. Can the OP please verify ? It will solve the mystery very well without resorting to all the other complicated hypothesis :slight_smile:

I meant +15 degrees F. My freezer has not been observed to go below 0, nor the refrigerator below 35. I am monitoring the temperature with an independent thermometer meant to hang from the wire shelf used in refrigerators.