A clear definition of ‘alcohol quality’ is currently not available and the use of the term varies considerably depending on the scientific field and the individual author. Intrinsic factors of ‘alcohol quality’ may be taste and flavour or the absence of certain toxic contaminants. Extrinsic factors may include price, brand image, labelling or perceived authenticity, which are typically unrelated to public health outcomes. This article shows that using the term ‘alcohol quality’ with varying definitions and underlying concepts may lead to misunderstandings, if not to clear misinformation (sometimes also intentionally by industry) when ‘lower quality’ is interpreted as ‘more toxic’ especially in the case of substitution of commercial beverages to unrecorded alcohol. We suggest the use of clearly defined terms instead, such as ‘taste quality’ or ‘brand price’, whenever possible.