It will always apply, without exception.
7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!
Anything that stresses yeast leads to more off flavors and what is called fusels. Fusels are other types of alcohol other than ethanol (traditionally what we think of as alcohol). These leave a "hot" or "off" taste. These will go away with time but the more fusels created, the longer the mead "has to age out" these off flavors.
Translation: less yeast stress= less fusels= the sooner your mead will be drinkable.
Some compensate by making their mead VERY sweet (SG >>1.025 even has high as 1.08 ).
Not what I would recommend. I think it is better to just baby the hell out of the yeast and then only make sweet enough for your personal preference than dessert sweet.
It depends on the yeast too. some yeast resist better than others osmotic stress, You can start at even 1.17 and some yeasts, if properly rehidrated will ferment it anyway. But 71B is probably a softer yeast (the opposite would probably be EC-1118 ) so osmotic stress will give you more off flavours. Start at 1.12 max. That is how it has been done for a long time and if properly rehidrated ithe yeast will do fine. You can start lower but 1.12 has been done with 71B and it seems to go OK
Sounds good, thank you all! I think I'll start with 3 pounds of honey, which should give me an SG of 1.108. Then add more at the 50% mark? How do I know that I'm at 50% of consumed sugar?
If you want higher than 13%abv then add halfwAy.
But if you are happy with 13%:
You can just ferment to dry-> stabilize-> back sweeten to desired sweetness.
Aha! So, the 50% mark would be 1.054 (half of the SG of 1.10.