Early-life events can cause long-term neurobiological and behavioural changes with a resultant effect upon reward and addiction processes that enhance risk to develop alcohol use disorders. Maternal separation (MS) is used to study the mediating mechanisms of early-life influences in rodents. In MS studies, the pups are exposed to maternal absence during the first postnatal weeks. The outcome of MS experiments exhibits considerable variation and questions have been raised about the validity of MS models. This short review aims to provide information about experimental conditions that are important to consider when assessing the impact of early-life environment on voluntary ethanol consumption. The results from currently used MS protocols are not uniform. However, studies consistently show that longer separations of intact litters predispose for higher ethanol consumption and/or preference in adult male rats as compared to shorter periods of MS. Studies using individual pup MS paradigms, other controls, low ethanol concentrations, adult females or examining adolescent consumption reported no differences or inconsistent results. There is no "a rodent MS model", there are several models and they generate different results. The compiled literature shows that MS is a model of choice for analysis of early-life effects on voluntary ethanol consumption but there are examples of MS paradigms that are not suitable. These studies emphasize the importance to carefully designed MS experiments to supply the optimal conditions to definitely test the research hypothesis and to be particulate in the interpretation of the outcome.