Is Whiskey Gluten Free?

Whiskey Glass
Photo: Dulin/Getty Images

There are few things in life as pleasurable as coming home after a long day of work and pouring yourself a dram of whiskey before cracking open a good book or watching your favorite movie. However, with more and more people watching their diets, it's crucial for some to ask — is whiskey gluten free?

OK, so there may be more pressing questions in the world, but, an astounding one in five Americans actively try to incorporate gluten-free foods into their diet, according to a Gallup Poll. And that means going gluten free with their drinking, too. Here's what to know about whiskey and a gluten-free diet.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten, which is the protein in cereal grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye, has become somewhat of a pariah in the food world. For the large majority of the population, eating gluten is fine. In fact, Harvard Health Publishing said there is no data to prove that avoiding gluten will make you healthier. But for a very small percentage of the population, gluten can be downright dangerous.

What Is Celiac Disease?

According to Harvard Health Publishing, about one percent of the population suffers from celiac disease. Living with celiac disease means a person can have a severe immune reaction if they eat gluten. They could ultimately develop inflammation and damage in their intestinal tracts and other parts of the body.

Does Whiskey Contain Gluten?

Thankfully, those with celiac disease have more options than ever when it comes to their diet. But what about when it comes to whiskey and other alcohol?

According to The National Institutes of Health's Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign, distilled alcohol is safe for people with celiac disease to drink. So that should lead you to believe whiskey is safe, right? Well, you may want to think twice.

According to Very Well Fit, The Celiac Support Association does not recommend any form of Scotch or whiskey for those living with celiac disease or for those avoiding gluten in their diet. Though it may likely be safe, the mash added back to these alcohols may cause discomfort as the distillation process may not remove it all. Additives and flavorings added after distillation may also contain gluten. There is also a risk of cross-contamination in facilities where rye, barley, and wheat whiskeys are made. Even trace amounts of gluten may cause those with celiac disease to react.

What Are Some Alternatives?

Instead, it may be time for those people to switch over to vodkas made from potatoes, rum, and tequila drinks, which are all made from gluten-free grains. Though, if you really want to pick up a bottle of whiskey, you could seek out sorghum whiskeys made from sorghum like Old Sugar Distillery's Queen Jennie or Koval Millet Whiskey. Because when it comes to whiskey lovers, where there's a will, there's always a way.

Was this page helpful?
Southern Living is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy.
  1. Riffkin R. One in five Americans include gluten-free foods in diet.

  2. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Gluten: A benefit or harm to the body? The Nutrition Source.

  3. Definition & Facts for celiac disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.

  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Questions and answers on the gluten-free food labeling final rule. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Related Articles