Alcohols That Give the Worst Hangovers

Which alcohols should you avoid if you're trying to steer clear of a hangover?
Staff Writer

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

But it looks so delicious!

Of course it’s really the amount of liquor you’re consuming that gives you a hangover, not the type, but some drinks may be more to blame for the worst kind of hangover than others. Sadly, of course, most of these are the tastiest drinks of all. 

1. Cheap vodka really does give you worse hangovers than expensive vodka

Higher-quality vodkas get distilled more than lower-quality ones. Belvedere, for example, gets distilled four times, Grey Goose claims they only distill once but in five distinct stages, and Tito’s distills six times.

Each time the spirit goes through the distilling process, impurities get removed. But what’s an impurity, in this instance?

Everything inside the vodka that isn’t pure alcohol — bits of potato or grape or wheat (whatever the vodka is being made from), as well as dirt, insects, or the burlap sack the potatoes were transported in. These impurities lend the vodka is flavor and character, but may also contribute to headaches the morning after.


2. Congeners are maybe kind of evil

What are congeners? Unlike impurities, which exist before the fermentation process, congeners are anything in your alcohol that was produced during the fermentation process and isn’t ethanol. Like impurities, these are responsible for many of the bold flavors in your drinks (we’re looking at you, tannins), but they are also other alcohols that aren’t the ethanol you want to be drinking, and may cause hangovers: acetone, esters, aldehydes — and methanol, if you’re very unlucky.

Certain alcohols, mostly brown liquors, like whiskey, and dark red wines and spirits, like brandies and red wines, have more congeners than lighter-colored beverages like vodka or gin.

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