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Alcohol congener analysis and the source of alcohol: a review

Abstract

For many decades traditional alcohol congener analysis has provided the concentrations of fermentation by-product congeners found in blood, to ascertain if the claims of an individual regarding the alcoholic beverage(s) they have consumed were feasible, assisting in cases where after-drinking is involved. However, this technique does not provide information on the exact alcoholic beverage(s) consumed. More recently, ingredient biomarker congeners specific to certain alcoholic beverages have been detected in blood, making it possible to identify the particular alcoholic beverage consumed and therefore the source of alcohol (albeit only for a limited number of beverages). This novel approach may reduce current limitations that exist with traditional methods of detecting fermentation by-product congeners, which restrict the use of alcohol congener analysis internationally and for other medico-legal scenarios. This review examines the forensic application of alcohol congener analysis in determining the source of alcohol and other techniques.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to acknowledge Kerry Johannes for her contribution in providing difficult to obtain articles and Dr Jennifer Pilgrim for her assistance with the progression of the article.

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Correspondence to Luke N. Rodda.

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Rodda, L.N., Beyer, J., Gerostamoulos, D. et al. Alcohol congener analysis and the source of alcohol: a review. Forensic Sci Med Pathol 9, 194–207 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12024-013-9411-0

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Keywords

  • Alcohol congener analysis
  • After-drinking
  • Congener
  • Fermentation by-products
  • Ingredient biomarkers
  • Review