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Complementary Ionization Techniques for the Analysis of Scotch Whisky by High Resolution Mass Spectrometry

Kew, Will, Mackay, C. Logan, Goodall, Ian, Clarke, David J., Uhrín, Dušan
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.90 no.19 pp. 11265-11272
Scotch whisky, atmospheric pressure, desorption, fulvic acids, ionization, ions, mass spectrometry, petroleum, rivers
Fourier transform mass spectrometry (FTMS) is widely used to characterize the chemical complexity of mixtures, such as natural organic matter (NOM), petroleum, and agri-food products (including Scotch whisky). Although electrospray ionization (ESI) is by far the most widely used ionization source in these studies, other ionization techniques are available and may offer complementary information. In a recent study, we found matrix free laser desorption/ionization (LDI) to be effective for the analysis of Suwannee river fulvic acid (SRFA), and to provide complementary chemical insights. In this study, LDI along with atmospheric pressure photoionization (APPI) and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) were compared to ESI for the analysis of Scotch whisky. High mass accuracy (54 ppb, mean) allowed for the assignment of 86% of peaks, with 3993 unique molecular formulas identified from four representative samples analyzed. All four ionization techniques, performed in negative mode, identified thousands of formulas. Many were unique to each ionization source, while 699 formulas were common to all techniques. Ions were identified in both deprotonated and radical anion forms. Our study highlights the importance of a multi-ionization source approach; we recommend that analysis of complex mixtures, especially novel ones, should not be limited solely to ESI.