Alcohol that is brewed or distilled using no gluten ingredients and which is labeled gluten-free is the safest bet. That said, the actual answer is more complex. Celiac.com shares insights in America’s gluten-free alcohol labeling regulations.
- Jefferson Adams, celiac.com 1
According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA) all distilled spirits are gluten-free, that is, there is no gluten in the final product of any distilled alcohol. ADA guidelines indicate that all 100% distilled spirits are safe, including whiskey, bourbon and gin.
Here are some helpful tips and some links to help you figure our which alcoholic beverages are gluten-free and gluten-safe for people with celiac disease.
Why Are Some Alcohols Labeled Gluten-Free and Others Not?
If all distilled spirits are gluten-free, then why do some have a gluten-free label and some do not? What’s the difference?
The main difference in the U.S. is that products labeled “gluten-free” must contain no gluten ingredients from start to finish. So, beer, wine, or distilled alcohol made from corn, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, rice, grapes, or anything else that doesn’t contain wheat, barley or rye, can be labeled “gluten-free.”
Alcohols distilled or fermented from non-grain ingredients, and which contain no gluten additives or flavorings are the safest choice, as they are naturally gluten-free from start to finish. These products can also be labeled as “gluten-free.” Examples include Rum, Sake, Soju, Tequila, Potato Vodka, Corn Vodka, Sorghum Whiskey, Wines, Beers brewed without wheat, rye, or barley.
Gluten-Safe Distilled Alcohols
Again, many people with celiac disease easily tolerate whiskey, gin, grain-based vodkas, and other alcohols distilled from grains, with no complaints. Others claim sensitivity to these products. Technically, because they are distilled, these products contain no gluten in the final product, but they cannot be labeled as “gluten-free” in the United States.
Unsafe Non-Gluten-Free Alcohols
Traditionally brewed Beers and Ales must be avoided, since nearly all traditional beers and ales are brewed with barley malt. Even many rice beers use malt, but there are a dozens of gluten-free beers on the market today.
- Beware of Gluten in Additives & Flavorings – Please note, that any type of wheat, rye, or barley that may be added after distillation, such as adding some of the original mash back into the product to enhance flavor might change that equation. The same is true of things like barley malt in some wine coolers. Flavorings added after distillation can include gluten, so be careful.
Resources for Gluten-Free and Safe Alcoholic Beverages
- Gluten-Free Alcohol – Celiac.com’s extensive list of Gluten-Free and Safe Alcoholic Beverages
- Gluten-Free Beer – Celiac.com’s Oktoberfest Beer Guide! Gluten-free vs. Gluten-removed Beers
- Gluten-Free Wine – Gluten in wine is extremely rare these days. Helpful information on the subject.
About Jefferson Adams