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Origin of 1.14 Liter Bottles

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I recently got a bottle of rum in the size 1.14 liters. This is apparently common outside the U.S. but I was wondering why this volume was chosen? I know 750 ml is very close to the old U.S. fifth of liquor, and one liter and 1.75 liters makes sense, but why 1.14? Why not 1.25?

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

Kevin


DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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Is there something wrong with 8/7ths of a liter?

I think it is actually 1/4 of an imperial gallon... so it's a quart.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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It's an old British quart (or two pints). It's also, in American measures, one quart plus half a pint, also known as 40 ounces -- a standard measure for some bottled spirits and also my favorite beverage: malt liquor. You want to buy in that size especially if you're taking spirits back to Canada, because customs allows 1.14 liters.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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You want to buy in that size especially if you're taking spirits back to Canada, because customs allows 1.14 liters.

Up here that size is affectionately known as a "forty pounder".


I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. - Johnny Carson

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Previous posters had some entertaining answers but not exactly solving your dilemma. A liter is 33.812 ounces, which is larger than a quart by close to two ounces. A quart is one-fourth of a gallon, being 32 ounces here.

The 8/7 ratio solves nothing besides showing what 1.14xx is, for 1.14 L is actually 38.628 ounces.

Also there seems to be confusion on to what constitutes a "fifth" for the average person. It is not a 750ml that is the most popular size sold in liquor shops and package stores - but that is the general consensus. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this from bartenders and other spirit professionals, even winning a wager with a package store owner of thirty plus years. A "fifth" is simply as its named suggests 1/5 of a liter, 200 ml. The smaller bottles generally sold behind the counter, away from prying hands. Sometimes unfortunately called "bum" bottles because of the customer profile who commonly buys this size for its easy portability and it wraps easily in that tell-tale brown paper bag.

Well, my ramblings have not really answered your initial question but my curiosity is peaked. I have never seen that bottle size in the Caribbean, but only been down four times and I generally stick to duty-free because of the substantial savings. Good luck!

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Previous posters had some entertaining answers but not exactly solving your dilemma.  A liter is 33.812 ounces, which is larger than a quart by close to two ounces.  A quart is one-fourth of a gallon, being 32 ounces here.The 8/7 ratio solves nothing besides showing what 1.14xx is, for 1.14 L is actually 38.628 ounces.

Imperial. It's an Imperial quart. An imperial quart is 1.201 times the size of a U.S. quart or 38.4 U.S. ounces or, as above, 1.136 lliters.


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Imperial pints are naturally bigger and better than American ones...

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Somewhere along the way, historically, the old British quart got translated to 40 American ounces (it is actually 40 imperial ounces). Because there are 20 imperial ounces in an imperial pint and 40 imperial ounces in an imperial quart, the imperial ounce is smaller than the American ounce even though the imperial quart and pint are larger than the American quart and pint. In Canada they still use imperial ounces so if you go to the website of the Canada Border Services Agency you will see that you're allowed "40 ounces (1.14 litres) of liquor."


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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... A "fifth" is simply as its named suggests 1/5 of a liter, 200 ml. ....

All these answers are great, thanks so much.

Are you sure about the fifth being the 'bum' bottles? I always thought a fifth was a fifth of a gallon (and all references I've seen/read in movies and books would make it seem so). Also, a fifth of a gallon is 25.6 ounces and a 750ml bottle is 25.38 ounces so that's also why I thought a fifth was (almost) the same as a 750ml.

Anyway, I appreciate the responses and am glad the rum I was given was Havana Club :smile:

Thanks again,

Kevin


DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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Previous posters had some entertaining answers but not exactly solving your dilemma.  A liter is 33.812 ounces, which is larger than a quart by close to two ounces.  A quart is one-fourth of a gallon, being 32 ounces here.

The 8/7 ratio solves nothing besides showing what 1.14xx is, for 1.14 L is actually 38.628 ounces.

Also there seems to be confusion on to what constitutes a "fifth" for the average person.  It is not a 750ml that is the most popular size sold in liquor shops and package stores - but that is the general consensus.  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this from bartenders and other spirit professionals, even winning a wager with a package store owner of thirty plus years.  A "fifth" is simply as its named suggests 1/5 of a liter, 200 ml.  The smaller bottles generally sold behind the counter, away from prying hands.  Sometimes unfortunately called "bum" bottles because of the customer profile who commonly buys this size for its easy portability and it wraps easily in that tell-tale brown paper bag.

Well, my ramblings have not really answered your initial question but my curiosity is peaked.  I have never seen that bottle size in the Caribbean, but only been down four times and I generally stick to duty-free because of the substantial savings.  Good luck!

I don't know which gullible package store owner you won this bet from, but allow me to quote a definition of "fifth" from the single-volume gold-standard New Oxford Dictionary of English: "(a fifth of) US informal a fifth of a gallon, as a measure of alcoholic liquor, or a bottle of this capacity...." There is no mention of 1/5 of a liter.


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Also there seems to be confusion on to what constitutes a "fifth" for the average person.  It is not a 750ml that is the most popular size sold in liquor shops and package stores - but that is the general consensus.  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this from bartenders and other spirit professionals, even winning a wager with a package store owner of thirty plus years.  A "fifth" is simply as its named suggests 1/5 of a liter, 200 ml.  The smaller bottles generally sold behind the counter, away from prying hands.  Sometimes unfortunately called "bum" bottles because of the customer profile who commonly buys this size for its easy portability and it wraps easily in that tell-tale brown paper bag.

Sorry. Interesting story, but not correct. You're right that a fifth is different from what you see on the shelves -- it's not the same as a 750 ml. But a fifth is not a fifth of a liter, it's a fifth of a gallon -- the old measurement for liquor (don't ask me why they decided on dividing a gallon into five parts; I don't know that).

It used to be that you'd find fifths and quart bottles of liquor on the shelves; then about 10 (or even 15) years ago, liquor companies switched to 750 ml-bottles and liters. I believe it was so they could package for both US and non-US distribution with one set of sizes.

The reason, I think, that people of a certain age still refer to "fifths" is just that that's the term they grew up with, and it's not that far off from a 750 ml., so they see that general size and think "fifth."

(The "bum" bottles used to be pints; now they're 375 ml. Again, many people, myself included, still call them "pints.")


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
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FWIW, a "true fifth" bottle and a 750 ml bottle are close enough to be indistinguishable for all practical purposes. A "true fifth" is 757 ml, which works out to somewhat less than one-quarter ounce more than 750 ml. Not enough difference to get worked up about.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I knew they were close, but didn't realize it was that close. No wonder the liquor companies decided to go with 750's and liters.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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(The "bum" bottles used to be pints; now they're 375 ml. Again, many people, myself included, still call them "pints.")

In Canada we call the 375mL size a "mickey", the 750mL a "twenty-sixer", and of course the 1.14L a "forty pounder". Anything larger than that (usually snuck in from the US) is often called a "Texas mickey". :smile:


I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. - Johnny Carson

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A friend who is working on his import license said that the US ATF strictly limits the metric sizes legal for sale in the US. So a 1.14 liter would not be legal to sell, nor would standard European sizes such as 500ml or 350ml. I've challenged him over the legality of the 200ml size, currently used by Hanger 1 and a few others - and have a dinner at the new La Belle Vie in Minneapolis riding on this one!!

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