Which Alcohols are Gluten-Free?
June 28, 2011
Which alcohols are gluten-free? Is it true that a grain distilled does not contain gluten?
Thanks so much for your question, Vanorr. With the exception of beer (excluding gluten-free varieties), most alcohol, including wine, is safe to consume on a gluten-free diet. Many beers are made from wheat and/or barley, and since beer is fermented rather than distilled, the gluten still remains in the final product. If you are a beer drinker, there are many gluten-free beers, such as New Grist, Redbridge, and Bard’s Tale, on the market these days. Other alcohol that may not be safe to drink includes wine coolers or “flavored” beverages, which may contain gluten.
Your question about grain distilled alcohol and gluten is a good one. While most celiac experts and organizations say it’s safe to consume any distilled alcoholic beverage because the distillation process removes the gluten from the purified final product, I have heard stories from individuals who state they have problems drinking any distilled alcohol, such as vodka, unless it is made from potatoes, corn, or grapes instead of wheat or rye.
I personally enjoy a Grey Goose martini (extra olives, please!) from time to time, and have never experienced any negative symptoms from consuming Grey Goose, which is a wheat-based vodka. My husband’s boss, on the other hand, will only drink a few brands of vodka, such as Tito’s, saying that wheat-based vodka makes her sick.
My recommendation is that you are probably safe to drink any distilled alcohol (without added flavorings), but if you find it cause you problems, try switching to a “gluten-free” brand or avoid any brands made from wheat or rye.
In good health,
EA Stewart, MBA, RD
1. Green, Peter H.R. and Jones, R. (2006). Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic(pg. 276). New York, NY: Harper Collins.
2. Case, S. (2008) Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide(pg. 33). Regina, Saskatchewan: Case Nutrition Consulting Inc.