Congeners are toxic substances created during the alcohol fermentation process. When you drink alcohol, these toxins are dispersed into your system as your liver breaks down the alcohol. While congeners are not the sole cause of a hangover, they do seem to contribute in some manner to the “quality” of the ensuing hangover.
Knowing something about the level of congeners in your chosen alcoholic beverage may help you determine how ill it can make you. In general, the fermentation and distillation processes determine the amount of congeners in the end product. Lower levels of congeners may mean a kinder, gentler hangover. . . if there is such a thing.
More expensive alcohol generally contains fewer congeners because it undergoes a more rigorous distillation process that filters out a higher percentage of the congeners. (Certain liquors may actually distilled three or four times.)
Darker colored drinks, such as whiskey, brandy and red wine have more congeners than lighter drinks such as vodka, gin and white wine.
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