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  • Jefferson Adams

    Fifteen Common Questions About Gluten-Free Alcohol and Booze

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Many people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can tolerate whiskey, gin and other liquor distilled from grains, but many cannot.


    Whiskey bar in San Diego. Image: CC BY-SA 2.0--billutzius
    Caption: Whiskey bar in San Diego. Image: CC BY-SA 2.0--billutzius

    Celiac.com 09/16/2019 - Here are some of the most common questions we get about gluten-free alcoholic beverages.

    Gluten-Free Distilled Alcohols

    Unless gluten is added after distillation, all distilled alcohols are free of gluten. However, under US labeling law, beverages made from ingredients containing wheat, rye, or barley, cannot be labeled or advertised as 'gluten-free.'So, when you do see a 'gluten-free' label on a distilled beverage, it means that no gluten ingredients have been used at any point in the production process. You'll find an extensive list of gluten-free alcohol, booze and liquor here.

    Gluten Sensitivity Can Vary



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    Many people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can tolerate whiskey, gin and other liquor distilled from grains, but many cannot. Use your own judgement and trust your gut when it comes to choosing alcohol. If something disagrees with you, it's likely best avoided. That said, we've tried to provide some depth and nuance to the answers here. Where possible, we reference truly gluten-free alternatives.

    Is Whiskey Gluten-Free?

    As a distilled beverage, whiskey contains no gluten. However, as a beverage made from gluten-containing cereal grains, whisky cannot be advertised or labeled as gluten-free. Many people with celiac disease choose to avoid whiskey, while many others drink it with no adverse effects.

    Gluten-free Whiskey Brands

    Queen Jennie Whiskey, by Old Sugar Distillery is made entirely from sorghum
    Gold Spur Corn Whiskey by Cowboy Country Distilling is made with corn, millet and oats

    Is Bourbon Gluten-Free?

    Bourbon is a kind of whiskey made exclusively in the United States. Recognized by Congress in 1964 as a "distinctive product of the United States," Bourbon sold in the U.S. must be made in America from at least 51% corn and stored in a new container of charred oak. Other rules apply.

    As a distilled beverage, bourbon whiskey contains no gluten, unless added after distillation. However, as a beverage made from gluten-containing cereal grains, bourbon cannot be advertised or labeled as gluten-free. Many people with celiac disease choose to avoid bourbon, while many others drink it with no adverse effects. 

    Many brands of bourbon add a portion of the original mash back into the finished product to retard bacteria that could taint the whiskey, and to create a proper pH balance for yeast growth. In part because of the strict rules governing bourbon production, there are no bourbons currently labeled 'gluten-free."

    Is Bailey's Irish cream gluten-free?

    Baileys Irish Cream is a liqueur blended Irish whiskey and dairy cream. If you can tolerate whiskey and dairy, you can likely tolerate Bailey's.

    Is Gin Gluten-Free?

    As a distilled beverage, gin does not contain gluten. However, as a beverage made from cereal grain ingredients, gin cannot be labeled gluten-free. 

    Brands of Gluten-Free Gin

    • Cold River Gin—distilled from potatoes 

    Is hard cider gluten-free?

    Most ciders are fermented from apples or other fruits. Most are safe, however, some add barley for enzymes and flavor. Read labels to be sure!

    Is Rum Gluten-Free?

    Most rum is distilled from sugar cane and is gluten-free. However, be careful about additives. Read labels, especially for flavored or premixed products, just to be sure.

    • Brands of Gluten-Free Rum
    • Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum
    • Bacardi—only Gold, Superior, 151, and flavored
    • Bayou Rum
    • Bundaberg Rum
    • Captain Morgan Rum
    • Cruzan Rum
    • Malibu Rum
    • Mount Gay Rum
    • Meyer's Rum

    Is Scotch Gluten-Free?

    Scotch is a type of whiskey. As a distilled beverage, Scotch is gluten-free. However, as a beverage made from ingredients containing wheat, rye or barley, Scotch cannot be labeled gluten-free. 

    Is Tequila Gluten-Free?

    Distilled from the agave cactus, all 100% agave tequilas are gluten-free and safe for celiacs.

    Is Wine Gluten-Free?

    Yes. All wines, including brandy, champagne, cognac, port wine, sherry, and vermouth are safe for celiacs.

    Are Wine Coolers Gluten-Free?

    Are Wine Coolers Gluten-Free?
    The majority of wine coolers are made from barley products, and so contain gluten. There are a few exceptions.

    Gluten-Free Wine Coolers

    • Bartle & Jaymes - all EXCEPT malt beverages
    • Boones - all EXCEPT malt beverages

    Is Vodka Gluten-Free?

    Some vodka is labeled, some is not. Vodkas distilled from potatoes, gluten-free grains or other gluten-free ingredients, and which contain no gluten ingredients, and can be labeled 'gluten-free.' Vodka distilled from grain contains no gluten, but cannot be labeled 'gluten-free.' Many people with celiac disease drink either one without issues. Many prefer vodka made with no gluten ingredients and labeled 'gluten-free.'

    Is Beer Gluten-Free?

    In the United States, products labeled 'gluten-free' must not be made from ingredients containing wheat, rye or barley. That means many beers cannot be labeled gluten-free, including both traditional gluten-containing beers, and gluten-removed beers. 

    Gluten-Free Beer
    Beers made with gluten-free ingredients, and which test below 20ppm gluten, are gluten-free and can be labeled gluten-free.

    Gluten-Removed Beer
    A number of beers are made with traditional wheat or barley and treated with enzymes to break down gluten. These beers are typically filtered to remove any stray proteins. Such beers can be labeled Gluten-Free in EU, but not in Canada or the US.

    See a long list of gluten-free and gluten-removed beers here.

    Is Ale Gluten-Free?

    Ale is a kind of beer. In the United States, products labeled 'gluten-free' must not be made from ingredients containing wheat, rye or barley. That means many ales cannot be labeled gluten-free. See our list of gluten-free and gluten-removed beers for more information. 

    Is Jaegermeister gluten-free?

    Jägermeister is an herb liqueur made from 56 herbs, roots, fruits, and other natural ingredients. The company says that Jägermeister can be considered free from gluten, starch and lactose. The actual recipe is secret, so no one can know for sure, so we'll have to take the company at its word.

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    Many brands of bourbon add a portion of the original mash back into the finished product to retard bacteria that could taint the whiskey, and to create a proper pH balance for yeast growth. In part because of the strict rules governing bourbon production, there are no bourbons currently labeled 'gluten-free."

    Could the author please cite an example of this?  As a craft bartender of 14 yrs--who has lived gluten-free for 10 yrs and who has many customers who maintain a gluten-free lifestyle--I would like to know more about bourbon producers who might practice this technique.  

    I assume you are referring to something other than the technique known as "sour mash"--which I understand is a practice that happens prior to the distillation of each batch. I also assume you are not referring to "wheated" bourbon, which (correct me if I'm wrong) only means that if at least 51% of the original mashbill is corn, the majority of the remaining 49% is wheat. 

    So I'd REALLY love to know what you're referring to. 

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    13 hours ago, kenlove said:

    I've heard/been told that Tanqueray Gin is not gluten free. Is there anything definitive on this?

    @PhilSieg  Tanq.Rangpur is certainly a better *quality* product than the original version that all the kids keep drinking because someone told them that everyone drinks it. (How to BREAK this nonsensical cycle???)

    Distilled products DO NOT CONTAIN GLUTEN unless they are "polluted" after distillation. On this point, I cannot help you, as the FDA refuses to require distillers to disclose their nutritional information. But I've never  gotten sick from Rangpur... and I recommend it to customers all the time--especially for fresh-lime Gimlets. 
    That said, I have no definitive proof that this product is gluten-free. 

    But, I would appreciate if we could hold the author @Jefferson Adams to higher standards of journalism on the TECHNICAL questions at-hand. 

     

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    On 9/24/2019 at 3:29 AM, sc'Que? said:

    Could the author please cite an example of this?  As a craft bartender of 14 yrs--who has lived gluten-free for 10 yrs and who has many customers who maintain a gluten-free lifestyle--I would like to know more about bourbon producers who might practice this technique.  

    I assume you are referring to something other than the technique known as "sour mash"--which I understand is a practice that happens prior to the distillation of each batch. I also assume you are not referring to "wheated" bourbon, which (correct me if I'm wrong) only means that if at least 51% of the original mashbill is corn, the majority of the remaining 49% is wheat. 

    So I'd REALLY love to know what you're referring to. 

    I have toured many bourbon and whiskey distilleries and there is not one that would add back any of the mash to the final product. The distillation process renders the liquid gluten free, even if it originally had wheat in the mash. 

    However, there are several distilleries that use wheat paste to seal the barrel and this could be a source of contamination to the final product. I would contact the distillery directly and ask them if they use wheat paste to seal the barrel. The majority do not do this as they do not want to contaminate the final product. Nothing can be added to bourbon after distillation as that would disqualify the product to be called bourbon based on bourbon laws. 

    Hope this was helpful! 

     

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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