How many units is a double shot of whiskey?

Whiskey is a popular spirit that is enjoyed by many people around the world. However, it does contain alcohol and therefore drinking too much can lead to intoxication. It’s important for whiskey drinkers to understand how much alcohol is contained in each serving, so they can drink responsibly.

What is a Double Shot of Whiskey?

A standard single shot of whiskey is generally considered to be 1.5 fluid ounces or 44 milliliters. This serving size contains around 14 grams of pure alcohol. A double shot simply contains twice the amount of whiskey – 3 fluid ounces or 88 milliliters. So a double shot of whiskey has approximately 28 grams of pure alcohol.

How Many Alcohol Units are in a Double Shot of Whiskey?

Alcohol units are a useful way to compare the strength of different alcoholic drinks. In the UK, one unit of alcohol is defined as 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. Using this measurement:

  • A single 25ml shot of whiskey at 40% ABV contains 1 unit of alcohol
  • A double 50ml shot of whiskey at 40% ABV contains 2 units of alcohol

In the United States, one alcohol unit is defined slightly differently as 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol. Using this US measurement:

  • A single 1.5oz shot of whiskey at 40% ABV contains 1 standard US alcohol unit
  • A double 3oz shot of whiskey at 40% ABV contains 2 standard US alcohol units

Therefore, regardless of whether you are using the UK or US alcohol unit definitions, a double shot of whiskey contains approximately 2 units of alcohol.

How Many Calories are in 2 Units of Whiskey?

As well as containing alcohol, whiskey also provides calories like any other drink. The calorie content of whiskey is around 70 calories per 1.5oz shot. So a double shot providing 2 units of alcohol contains roughly:

  • 2 x 1.5oz shots = 3oz total
  • 3oz whiskey at 70 calories per 1.5oz shot = Around 140 calories

So you can estimate that drinking a double shot of whiskey will provide about 140 calories, as well as 2 units of alcohol.

Is 2 Units of Alcohol a Lot?

Whether 2 units of alcohol is a lot or not depends on your age, gender, tolerance level and other factors. Here are some general guidelines:

  • For women, it is recommended to drink no more than 2-3 units of alcohol per day.
  • For men, it is recommended to drink no more than 3-4 units of alcohol per day.

So a double whiskey would account for 2/3rds of the daily recommendation for a woman, or half the daily recommendation for a man. Drinking more than the recommended daily limits is considered heavy or binge drinking.

However, younger adults with less drinking experience may feel intoxication effects from even 1-2 units of alcohol. Older adults and those taking medications may also need to be cautious of lower alcohol intake.

Most health organizations define binge drinking as:

  • Women – 4 or more standard units in one session.
  • Men – 5 or more standard units in one session.

So a double whiskey on its own would not be considered binge drinking for a man. However, for a woman, drinking more than one double whiskey in a short period may be classed as bingeing. It’s best to pace your drinks and not consume more than the daily recommended limits.

Factoring in Whiskey Proof

The above calculations are based on a typical whiskey of 40% alcohol by volume (ABV) or 80 proof. However, some whiskeys can be stronger or weaker than this:

  • A 80 proof whiskey contains 40% ABV
  • A 90 proof whiskey contains 45% ABV
  • A 100 proof whiskey contains 50% ABV
  • A 120 proof whiskey contains 60% ABV

The higher the ABV or proof, the more alcohol units will be contained in a serving. For example:

Whiskey Type ABV Units in Double Shot
80 proof (typical) 40% 2 units
90 proof 45% 2.25 units
100 proof (maximum in US) 50% 2.5 units
120 proof (maximum in UK) 60% 3 units

So you can see that choosing a higher strength whiskey will increase the number of units per serving. It’s important to check the ABV or proof before drinking so you understand exactly how much alcohol you are consuming.

The Importance of Drinking Responsibly

While whiskey can certainly be enjoyed sensibly by most healthy adults, drinking too much can lead to significant health risks including:

  • Impaired judgement
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of balance and co-ordination
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hangovers
  • Increased risk of accidents and injuries

Over the long term, excessive alcohol intake is linked with serious conditions such as:

  • Liver damage and cirrhosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Mental health problems
  • Alcohol dependence

It’s recommended for healthy adults to have at least 2 to 3 alcohol-free days per week to allow the liver to recover. Pregnant women or those with medical conditions may need to avoid alcohol altogether.

Tips for Drinking Responsibly

  • Pace yourself – sip drinks slowly rather than gulping them down
  • Drink water between each alcoholic beverage
  • Eat food before and while drinking to slow absorption
  • Know your limits and stick within low risk guidelines
  • Avoid binge drinking by spacing standard servings over time
  • Don’t drink alcohol if you are pregnant, driving, operating machinery or taking medications that interact with alcohol


To summarize the key points:

  • A double shot of whiskey contains around 2 units of alcohol
  • This accounts for a significant portion of the daily low risk alcohol intake limits
  • Drinking more than 3-4 units in one session is considered binge drinking
  • Always check the ABV/proof as higher strength whiskey will have more units per serving
  • While whiskey can be enjoyed sensibly, excessive intake poses many health risks
  • It’s important to drink responsibly within low risk alcohol guidelines

Understanding how many units are in each drink allows you to make informed decisions about your alcohol consumption and drink whiskey safely.

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