We’ve all been there. You’re out with some friends and somebody wants to know whether a whiskey is gluten-free. What do you say to them? But marketers, the real question is: how do we answer this question? Does whiskey have gluten in it? It can be confusing whether a whiskey is gluten-free or not. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there, and sometimes the answers aren’t simple.
Yes, straight whiskey is gluten free.
However, some distilleries use a grain additive called “caramel coloring” to give their whiskey a darker color. This additive contains gluten and should be avoided by those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
You should also be aware that some flavored whiskeys may contain gluten. These include:
- Whiskey sours
- Whiskey Manhattans
- Irish coffee
It’s important to know your choices when you’re looking for gluten free spirits
If you’re looking for gluten free alcohol, there are some things you need to know about whiskey. Whiskey is made from grain, and most of the time, that grain is barley (or sometimes wheat). That means that it’s possible for whiskey to be made from gluten grains.
However, not all whiskey is made from barley or wheat. Some distilleries use corn instead of barley or wheat, which makes it safe for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
If you’re unsure about your favorite brand of whiskey, check their website or call them directly and ask if they use barley or wheat as an ingredient in their product.
For more information on whiskey and other types of alcohol that are safe for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, see our Guide To Gluten Free Alcoholic Beverages.
You can usually find gluten free spirits at liquor stores
If you’re looking for a good selection of gluten-free liquors, head to your local liquor store. Most larger grocery stores will also carry a few brands without any added ingredients that contain gluten.
The most popular liquors that are naturally gluten-free include:
Yes, bourbon whiskey is gluten free
Bourbon is a type of whiskey made in the United States, where it’s known as America’s native spirit. Bourbon is made from a mash of corn, rye and barley malt, with no other grains added.
The resulting spirit must be aged in new oak barrels that haven’t been used to age wine or spirits before, which gives bourbon its distinctive taste and color.
Bourbon has a higher alcohol content than other types of whiskey, usually 80 proof (40 percent alcohol by volume). It’s made in Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana.
The process used to produce many whiskeys means that they contain trace amounts of gluten
However, there are a number of popular brands that are certified gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease or who follow a gluten-free diet.
Here’s a list of the best whiskey brands for those who can’t drink beer or wine:
- Jameson Irish whiskey is made from malted barley, but Jameson has confirmed that it does not contain any wheat, rye or barley and is thus suitable for celiacs and those on a gluten-free diet.
This makes it an excellent substitute for bourbon in cocktails like Manhattans or Old Fashioneds. Jameson also makes small batch versions of their whiskey at select locations around the world. These are not certified as gluten free and should be avoided by celiacs and those with other forms of gluten intolerance.
- Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey is another popular brand that doesn’t use any ingredients derived from wheat, rye or barley during production and has been certified as gluten free by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO).
It’s also made in Northern Ireland where there’s no chance that your whiskey could have been contaminated by barley during distillation.
People who cannot drink alcohol because of medical conditions should avoid bottled distilled spirits made from grains or mustards
Whiskey is not gluten free, as it is made from barley. However, some distilleries have started producing gluten-free whiskey. Many people who are sensitive to gluten can drink distilled spirits made from grains other than barley without any trouble.
But this does not mean that all people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity can drink all types of alcohol. People who cannot drink alcohol because of medical conditions should avoid bottled distilled spirits made from grains or mustards.
Whiskey is gluten free. Though there are whiskeys such as scotch, whiskey and bourbon that are distilled from corn, they contain other ingredients that are not gluten free. The alcohol in whiskey is a by-product of the distilling process and the essential flavors (namely alcohol) comes from the fermented mash which contains barley.