With a rise in health awareness in modern times, it’s no wonder people are curious about what is and isn’t gluten-free (regardless of whether they are celiac, sensitive, or just making better health decisions for themselves).
Beer, of course, is off-limits to gluten-intolerant people. But what about spirits like Whiskey, Scotch, Bourbon, and Rye?
Is Whiskey Gluten-Free?
For the sake of this article, we’re going to call all the different whiskey variants such as scotch, single malt, rye, bourbon or corn ‘Whiskey’ to keep things nice and simple.
Whiskey is made by distilling gluten-containing grains such as barley, rye, and wheat. But, since whiskey is distilled, all of the gluten protein is left behind in the still, and none makes it to the final product. Therefore, Whiskey is safe for those with Celiac disease, according to the Beyond Celiac Foundation.
Even though the whiskey in question is derived from gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye, or barley, the allergen is removed during the distillation process. You may credit science for this occurrence. Alcohol is isolated from everything else in the mash when distilling a grain (or potatoes, or fruit, or anything). This alcoholic vapor passes through the still and condenses on the other side into a liquid. The only thing left after this process is pure alcohol-all traces of gluten and sugar are gone.
Further, the alcohol stand tobacco tac bureau (the TTB) recently ruled that whiskey may be provided with the ‘gluten-free’ label on it’s packaging.
Does Whiskey Contain Sugar?
Whiskey, gin, vodka, and even rum are all completely distilled spirits so do not include any sugars.
When it comes to spirits, it’s more about what they’re mixed with. It will only contain sugar once it is mixed with other drinks like other liquors, juices, or soft drinks.
Does Whiskey Contain Dairy?
No, whiskey must be made entirely from grains to be called a whiskey.
Is Whiskey Vegan?
The short answer is yes, you can be almost 99.9% sure your whiskey is vegan. But, for the sake of total transparency lets look at the possible cased where whiskey is not vegan
Youre drinking a whiskey liquor, not whiskey. Something like baileys (Irish cream) is a drink made with sugar, cream and a whiskey base. Obviosuly this contains cream so its certainly not vegan.. but its not really whiskey either.
The whiskey was made in a ex wine barrel. Bare with us here, finnings are commonly used in the wine industry to clarify the final product. Ingredients like gelatin (from animal cartilage) Isinglass (a type of gelatin from fish) or Albumin (from eggs) are commonly used as finings and are completely not vegan.
If these findings are used and the wine is aged in barrels it will deposit a small amount into the wood of the barrel. When these barrels (think port, sherry, or pinot noir barrels) are used to then age whiskey a bit of cross contamination will occur, making the whiskey not vegan too.
Note: most distilleries use new barrels which will be completely vegan so no worries!
Regardless if you are gluten intolerant, vegan, or trying to manage any other dietary requirements, whiskey is generally a safe bet when deciding what to drink.
It is very rare for whiskey to contain gluten.
Remember that having adverse responses to gluten-containing foods and drinks is fairly typical after going gluten-free, so don’t be shocked if that whiskey you often used to adore makes you sick suddenly.
Alcohol consumption in accordance with the prescribed norms should not be ruled out. Although some alcohol may have health benefits, this does not indicate that you should drink it excessively.