Did You Know?


A 'butt' was a unit of measure for wine in Medieval England.

A 'butt' was a unit of measure for wine in Medieval England.
A 'butt' was a unit of measure for wine in Medieval England.

The two main systems for measuring distance and weight are the metric system and the imperial system. While most countries use the metric system, one big exception is the good ol’ United States of America. We are actually one of three countries in the world that still use the imperial system. (The other two are Liberia and Burma, FYI.)

One of the quirks of the imperial system is that it uses some funny words for measurements. Perhaps the best one? A “butt.”

Yes, its true—a butt is actually a unit of measurement for wine or whiskey casks. According to the experts at the Macallan distillery in Scotland, a butt is 108 imperial gallons. Keep in mind, one imperial gallon is about 1.2 American gallons. So, if someone says they drank a “buttload” of wine, they are in for one heck of a hangover!

Though antiquated terms like butt are not frequently used these days outside of wineries and distilleries, they have an interesting past. Butt originates from the wordbotte,” a Medieval French and Italian term for boot. If you were in Italy, you would hear the word botte used to refer to a wine cask, even today.


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