When it comes to celiac disease, knowing what spirits are safe to drink is as important as knowing what foods are gluten-free. If you like to have a drink to unwind after a busy day or on the weekends, you’re probably curious to learn what whiskeys are safe for you to enjoy while sticking to a gluten-free diet.
So, what whiskey is gluten-free? Pure, distilled whiskey is gluten-free even when made from gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Because the distillation process removes gluten protein, when good manufacturing practices are followed, TTB allows gluten-free labels on whiskey distilled from gluten-containing grains.
Keep reading to learn how whiskey is made and what ingredients are used to make this popular spirit. We’ll also list popular gluten-free whiskey brands that are safe for people with celiac disease or gluten allergies.
Is Whiskey Naturally Gluten-Free?
Even when it’s made from wheat, barley, or rye, pure, distilled whiskey is considered gluten-free. The distillation process makes most whiskeys safe for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which regulates most alcoholic beverages in the United States, ruled that distilled alcohol, even when made with gluten-containing ingredients, can be labeled as gluten-free. This ruling affects most whiskeys because they are generally made from wheat, barley, or rye.
The distillation process removes gluten protein from whiskey when good manufacturing practices are followed. However, look for hidden gluten in whiskey that comes in the form of added flavorings or other additives added to the whiskey after the distillation process.
Although whiskey is gluten-free, there’s a risk of cross-contamination in facilities that process products that contain wheat, barley, and rye.
What Is Whiskey Made From?
Whiskey is made from fermented grain mash. Various grains are used for making different varieties of whiskey, including wheat, barley, rye, and corn.
All whiskeys have three main ingredients – water, yeast, and cereal grain.
Bourbon is a variety of whiskey made from water, yeast, and grain, where at least 51% of the grain used is corn. The other 49% of the mash bill can consist of a combination of any other grains.
On the other hand, scotch is made from water, yeast, and 100% malted barley. To use the term “scotch”, the whiskey must be made using malted barley.
American rye whiskey must be made of at least 51% rye, which gives the whiskey spice and acidity.
Having said that, the answer to what whiskey is made from depends on the type of whiskey you’re making. The two main ingredients are water and yeast, and the third ingredient is some type of cereal grain.
For scotch, this is malted barley; for bourbon, it’s 51% corn; for American rye whiskey, it’s 51% rye.
Process of Making Whiskey
Whiskey is made of a mash of fermented grains, generally wheat, barley, or rye. When the grain mash has been fermented, it’s time for distillation.
Distillation is the process that transforms fermented mash into whiskey. This process involves heating the liquid, in a still, to a temperature that vaporizes it. The vapor rises up the still and is collected and condensed back into liquid form once it starts to cool.
The collected liquid is the new whiskey! The final step in the whiskey-making process is to age the whiskey in oak barrels., usually for three or more years.
List of Gluten-Free Whiskey
There are many different types of gluten-free whiskey. Most of these whiskeys are made from gluten-containing grains, like wheat, barley, or rye, but are considered gluten-free by the FDA and TTB.
Here are some popular whiskey brands you can enjoy while sticking to a gluten-free diet:
- Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
- Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey
- Fireball Whiskey
- Jameson Whiskey
- Knob Creek Whiskey
- Glenfiddich Whiskey
- Jim Beam Bourbon
- Jonny Walker Scotch
- Wild Turkey Bourbon
- Black Velvet Whiskey
- Chivas Regal Whiskey
- Seagram’s 7 Whiskey
- Dewar’s Scotch
Some brands use gluten-free grains like sorghum and millet to produce whiskey. If you’re concerned about how much gluten can remain in the spirit after the distillation process, there are completely gluten-free whiskey options available.
Here are a few brands to consider:
- Hudson Baby Bourbon
- Koval Bourbon Whiskey
- Koval Millet Whiskey
- James F.C Hyde Sorgho Whiskey
- Queen Jennie’s Sorghum Whiskey
- S.S Sorghum Whiskey
- New Southern Revival Sorghum Whiskey
Can Celiacs Drink Whiskey?
Most people with celiac disease can drink pure whiskey thanks to the distillation process. However, some individuals with celiac disease may experience negative reactions after drinking whiskey.
Although the distillation process removes gluten, there’s a chance that it doesn’t separate 100% of gluten, especially if the distillation process wasn’t performed correctly. Furthermore, there’s a risk of cross-contamination if the whiskey is made in the same facility that handles gluten-containing ingredients.
Is Bourbon Whiskey Safe for Celiacs?
Yes, pure distilled bourbon is considered gluten-free, even when it’s made from wheat, barley, or rye added to the corn mash. Most kinds of bourbon are safe for people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity because of the distillation process.
However, there’s a chance that not all gluten is removed during distillation, and some people may react to bourbon because of trace amounts of gluten. In addition, some bourbons may become cross-contaminated with gluten if they are processed in a facility that handles gluten-containing ingredients.
Whiskey is a popular type of distilled alcohol made from a fermented grain mash. While whiskey is traditionally made with gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, and rye, the gluten is removed from the whiskey during the distillation process.
FDA and TTB consider whiskey gluten-free, but some people may experience symptoms because there’s no guarantee that gluten is completely removed during the distillation process.
The only way you can be sure that whiskey is gluten-free is to purchase a product that is made without gluten-containing ingredients, such as corn, sorghum, or millet.