Not exactly a beer homebrew question but...

I heard from many people that drinking 70-96% alcohol (not rubbing alcohol but distilling grapes).

For example Cyprus traditional drink zivania is made by distilling grapes and the first few batches are pure alcohol that they say is good only for cleaning because of the toxins it has is bad for your health and also can get you blind. On the other hand, in a lot of liqueur recipes, like limoncello, they use 96% alcohol and then they dilute it with syrup to drop down around 40%.

Are those toxins removed from the alcohol so it is safer? I know that you can use vodka but they say that 96 proof has a much better flavor.


1 Answer 1


The alcohol in limoncello or other liqueurs is almost always industrially produced, and thus fit for consumption. It does not contain methanol or fusel alcohols. So, made this way, liqueurs are not poisonous.

When a fermented wash is distilled, the methanol and fusel alcohols escape first because they have a lower evaporation temperature than ethanol. So the first few percent of the distillation are discarded, and then the ethanol is gathered, and the last few percent are also discarded.

If you talk about the first few batches, I presume that you are talking about industrial distillation.

  • In my home town we use broken down grapes and their juice to distill and make 40-48 alcohol that we drink, (zivania). As the evaporated alcohol is cooled down, the first few batches as you mentioned above (percent of distillation) we use them for cleaning and now as an antiseptic. Once the abv falls down to 40-48 we bottle. So as you mentioned, because of methanol the first few percent of alcohol cannot be used for Liqueur?
    – Kralirious
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 23:12
  • @Kralirious: Yes, methanol is poisonous. Ethanol is what is really used in beverages and food.
    – chthon
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 17:21
  • *the methanol and fusel alcohols escape first because they have a lower evaporation temperature than ethanol. * Completely false. Fusel oils are HIGHER alcohols (mainly) and have a HIGHER BP than ethanol and gather in the TAILS, not the heads.
    – Gert
    Commented Feb 26, 2022 at 19:19

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