The alcohol content of beverages is tightly regulated, and determination of alcohol content in beverages is important for labeling compliance and quality control. Traditional testing methods for alcohol content are typically based upon measurements of physical properties such as specific gravity (relative density) and refractive index. Standardized methods for determination of alcohol by volume use a distillation method to determine specific gravity. Headspace gas chromatography is typically used in forensic laboratories when there is a need to determine the alcohol content of beverages. While effective, the method is time-consuming and requires specialized headspace sampling equipment.
Researchers at NIST have developed a fast and accurate method using the for the determination of alcohol content in beverages by using the JEOL AccuTOF-DART mass spectrometer. The method described in a recent article in the journal Forensic Chemistry1 uses a simple T-junction to sample beverage headspace in seconds to measure ethanol concentration with an accuracy of greater than 99%. The AccuTOF-DART system has found wide use in forensic laboratories for application such as drug screening, trace evidence, explosives detection and even questioned documents. The development of the new method for determining ethanol concentration adds another capability to the AccuTOF-DART for use in forensics.
- Sisco, E.; Robinson, E. L. Determination of ethanol concentration in alcoholic beverages by direct analysis in real time mass spectrometry (DART-MS); Forensic Chemistry 2020, 18, 100219.