The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which regulates most alcoholic beverages in the United States, recently ruled that distilled alcohol, even when made with a gluten-containing grain, can be labeled gluten-free. Examples include whiskey made from wheat or rye and Scotch made from barley.
The ruling was triggered when the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates most food, clarified its labeling requirements for hydrolyzed, fermented and distilled products.
“Because distillation removes protein if good manufacturing practices are followed, and because it is possible to verify the absence of protein or protein fragments in these products using scientifically valid analytical methods, TTB will permit “gluten-free” claims on distilled products from gluten-containing grains as long as good manufacturing practices are followed to prevent the introduction of any gluten-containing material into the final product,” according to the TTB.
Companies that make distilled alcohol have to be able to prove, upon request, that there is no protein in the distillate or any added ingredients and that precautions have been taken to prevent cross-contact, including from storage materials.
Additionally, the TTB continues to permit the term “gluten-free” on labels and in advertisements for alcohol beverages produced without gluten-containing grains or other ingredients containing gluten, provided the industry member takes appropriate measures to ensure that its raw materials, ingredients, production facilities, storage materials, and finished products were not subject to cross-contact with gluten. Examples include vodka made from corn or potatoes.
Read more at Answers from a Dietitian.
Gluten-free liquors (after distillation) include:
A liquor product that can contain gluten is ouzo, due to grains sometimes being added after the distillation process.
For more on the distillation process and the safety of liquors for those with celiac disease, as well as gluten-free alcohol labeling information, check out this page on Gluten-Free Watchdog.
A Note on Beer
Beer is fermented, not distilled, so it goes through a different creation process. Regular beer is made with barley and is not safe for people with celiac disease. We don’t know yet if “gluten-removed” barley-based beers are safe for people with celiac disease. That’s because the testing method used has not yet been validated. Until we know more, Beyond Celiac advises avoiding barley-based beers. Luckily, there are plenty of safe gluten-free beers on the market! Get more information on “gluten-removed” beer here.
What About Wine and Champagne?
Most wine is naturally gluten-free and safe to consume on a gluten-free diet. Click here to learn more about wine.
Sparkling wine, including Champagne and Prosecco, is naturally gluten-free. Click here to learn more about champagne.