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Do dark liquors give you a worse hangover?

I've heard that vodka doesn't cause hangovers like whiskey because of the color. Is this true?

3945 day(s) ago

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Yes and no. Darker liquors do cause worse hangovers, but there are other factors in play.

Alcohol acts as a diuretic, causing you to lose fluid, hence the saying "You can't buy beer, you can only rent it." A hangover is mostly caused by this dehydration. Alcohol also reduces blood sugar levels and blocks B12, reducing the amount of energy your brain can utilize long after your first drink. You will experience this regardless of what you drink.

A study released last year showed that dark liquors caused more of a hangover than clear liquors, but that's only part of the story. Overall, dark liquor contains more congeners, by-products of liquor production. Barrel-aged liquors like whiskey, aged wines, and gold tequila absorb small amounts of methanol from the wood, while other compounds like acetone can form in the presence of materials other than sugar can form during fermentation. Brandy has the highest amount of congeners, followed by red wine, rum, bourbon, scotch, white wine, gin, and vodka. As you can see, the lighter a liquor is, the less congeners it has.

However, congeners are not restricted to dark liquors: refining and processing of spirits can have a major effect on toxin content. For example, an ideal vodka contains only ethanol (grain alcohol) and water. However, achieving this requires multiple distillations and considerable filtering, which costs money. The next time you're in a liquor store, compare the labels of top shelf vodkas with value brands: Typically, a cheap vodka will only be distilled once, while a more expensive one will be distilled three times. The end result is a lighter hangover with a top-shelf vodka.

There's one more thing to consider: alcohol breaks down plastic, so you'll have a worse hangover from liquor in plastic bottle thanks to dissolved petroleum distillates.

So, to answer your question, dark liquor does cause a worse hangover overall, but a cheap plastic-bottled vodka may be worse than a top-shelf scotch.

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