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Congener (beverages)

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In the alcoholic beverages industry, congeners (from French congénère, in turn from Latin com- “same” + genus “kind”) are substances, other than the desired type of alcohol and ethanol, produced during fermentation. These substances include small amounts of chemicals such as methanol and other alcohols (known as fusel alcohols), acetone, acetaldehyde, esters, tannins, and aldehydes (e.g. furfural). Congeners are responsible for most of the taste and aroma of distilled alcoholic beverages, and contribute to the taste of non-distilled drinks.[1] Brandy, rum and red wine have the highest amount of congeners, while vodka and beer have the least.

Congeners are the basis of alcohol congener analysis, a sub-discipline of forensic toxicology which determines what a person drank.

There is some evidence that high-congener drinks induce more severe hangovers,[2][3] but the effect is not well studied and is still secondary to the total amount of ethanol consumed.[4]

Toxic congeners[edit]

Fusel alcohols[edit]


Although methanol is not produced in toxic amounts by fermentation of sugars from grain starches,[5] it is a major occurrence in fruit spirits.[6] However, in modern times, reducing methanol with the absorption of a molecular sieve is a practical method for production.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Understanding Congeners in Wine". Wines Vines Analytics. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  2. ^ "Whisky effects 'worse than vodka'". 19 December 2009. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  3. ^ Rohsenow D. J.; Howland J.; Arnedt J. T.; Almeida A. B.; Greece J.; Minsky S.; Kempler C. S.; Sales S. (1 March 2010). "Intoxication with bourbon versus vodka: effects on hangover, sleep, and next-day neurocognitive performance in young adults". Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 34 (3): 509–18. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2009.01116.x. PMC 3674844. PMID 20028364.
  4. ^ Rohsenow, DJ; Howland, J (June 2010). "The role of beverage congeners in hangover and other residual effects of alcohol intoxication: a review". Current Drug Abuse Reviews. 3 (2): 76–9. doi:10.2174/1874473711003020076. PMID 20712591.
  5. ^ "Distillation: Some Purity Considerations". Moonshine Still. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  6. ^ Blumenthal, P; Steger, MC; Einfalt, D; Rieke-Zapp, J; Quintanilla Bellucci, A; Sommerfeld, K; Schwarz, S; Lachenmeier, DW (28 April 2021). "Methanol Mitigation during Manufacturing of Fruit Spirits with Special Consideration of Novel Coffee Cherry Spirits". Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 26 (9): 2585. doi:10.3390/molecules26092585. PMC 8125215. PMID 33925245.
  7. ^ Hui-Ling Ma; Xiu-Ping Yang; Ying Zuo (15 April 2006). "Study on Method of Decreasing Methanol in Apple Pomace Spirit". Food Science. 27 (4): 138–142.

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