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Gluten-Free? These Are the Kinds of Alcohol You Can Drink—and the One You Should Avoid

Here's all you need to know about which alcohols contain gluten, are completely void of it, and which ones fall somewhere in between.
Gluten-Free? These Are the Kinds of Alcohol You Can Drink—and the One You Should Avoid

Celiac disease affects at least 3 million Americans, according to the University of Chicago Medicine Celiac Disease Center, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity appears to be becoming more prevalent among Americans as well. Gluten is the naturally-occurring protein in wheat, rye, and barley, all of which are used to make beer and various liquors. Whether you’re allergic to gluten or have adverse reactions to it from time to time, it’s important that you’re mindful of which kinds of alcohol contain the protein, which ones are naturally free of it, as well as some that fall on the border. You want to make sure you’re sipping on the right drink for you, right? So we went ahead and categorized popular alcohols by gluten-free, those that can be gluten-free, as well as those that contain gluten. Liquors that are also gluten-free that don’t appear on this list include grappa and ouzo.

Find out which alcohols are safe to drink, and which you should avoid while following a gluten-free diet.

Gluten-Free Alcohol

Gluten-free Vodka

gluten free vodka Shutterstock

Vodka that’s made from potatoes is naturally gluten-free, so go ahead and order that vodka martini—vermouth (made from grapes) is naturally gluten-free as well. Other kinds of vodka that are gluten-free are distilled from corn, grapes, and even figs. Bottom line, as long as the vodka is not derived from gluten-containing grains, you’re in the clear.

Try these brands:

1. Blue Ice Vodka
2. Grand Teton Vodka
3. Tito’s Handmade Vodka
4. Smirnoff Vodka
5. Dixie Vodka

Traditional Tequila

Tequila neat with lime lemon and salt Shutterstock

Tequila that’s made the traditional way—entirely from the blue agave plant—is naturally free of gluten. However, there are several less expensive brands of tequila that are considered “mixto” that could invite traces of gluten, so look for brands made from 100 percent blue agave.

Try these brands:

1. Don Julio Blanco
2. Agavales Gold
3. Milagro Tequila
4. Casa Noble Anejo
5. Patron Tequila

Plain Rum

bacardi rum Shutterstock

Plain rum, or rum that is free of added flavors, is naturally gluten-free because it is distilled from sugar cane. Flavored rum and even various spiced rums may include traces of gluten so it’s important to check the label.

Try these brands:

1. Bacardi (Bacardi Ocho, Superior, Gold, Select, Bacardi 151, and flavored rums)
2. Captain Morgan
3. Cruzan
4. Mount Gay
5. Myers’s Rum

RELATED: The easy guide to cutting back on sugar is finally here.

Wine

person pouring red wine into two glasses Shutterstock

Wine, brandy, and fortified wines are all naturally gluten-free. However, flavored wines, including various dessert wines, may pose a threat to those with celiac disease, as well as a wine that’s been aged in oak barrels. Some winemakers use flour or wheat paste to seal oak barrels, which could contaminate the wine with small amounts of gluten. With regard to plain wine, the FDA says that wines with 7 percent or more alcohol by volume are gluten-free. Wine coolers are generally not gluten-free as most contain barley malt.

Gluten-free Hard Cider

hard cider Shutterstock

Hard cider is generally gluten-free, brewed from fruit such as apples and pears rather than barley, wheat, or rye. Still, some ciders may include barley so be sure to check the label.

Try these brands:

1. Crispin Cider
2. Angry Orchard Cider
3. ACE Cider
4. Wolffer Estate No. 139 Dry Ciders
5. Jack’s Hard Cider

Alcohol That Can Be Gluten-Free

Whiskey & Bourbon

Whiskey alcohol on the rocks Shutterstock

Whiskey and bourbon are made from fermented grain mash which contains gluten, however, the distillation process kills all traces of gluten. After the distillation process, barley malt may be added back into the liquor to accentuate the color and flavor. So if you have celiac disease, you’re better off not drinking whiskey or bourbon.

Try these brands:

1. Johnnie Walker
2. Maker’s Mark
3. Jack Daniel’s
4. Wild Turkey Bourbon

Conventional Vodka

Vodka Shutterstock

Like whiskey and bourbon, you also run the risk of consuming gluten with conventional vodka (made from gluten-containing grains), even though distillation should effectively kill off the gluten protein. To err on the side of caution, choose one of the gluten-free vodka brands above.

Gin

gin & tonic cocktail in glasses lemon garnish Shutterstock

Gin, along with whiskey, bourbon, and conventional vodka can also pose a threat if cross-contamination occurs. If you have celiac disease it’s best to steer clear. However, there are a few brands that make gin from sources other than gluten-containing grains. For example, Cold River Gin is made from distilled potatoes.

Gluten-removed Beer

omission gluten-removed beer Shutterstock

For those who have a minor sensitivity to gluten, you will most likely be OK if you sip on one of these, but those with a more severe sensitivity or celiac disease are encouraged to proceed with caution. Beer brands such as Omission are still brewed from barley and those who are highly sensitive to gluten could be at risk. In order for a beer to be entirely void of gluten, it would have to be made from gluten-free cereal grains including millet, corn, sorghum, and rice.

Try these Gluten-Free Beer brands instead:

1. Greens
2. New Planet
3. Bard’s
4. New Grist
5. Redbridge Beer

Sake

sake Shutterstock

Sake is made from pure rice but some manufacturers may add in small amounts of barley. Look for the sake that’s labeled junmai or junmai-shu, which indicates that’s it’s only made from rice.

Try these brands:

1. Akitabare Koshiki Junzukuri Junmai
2. Shichi Hon Yari Junmai
3. Fukunishiki Junmai

Mead

mead Shutterstock

Mead is known as a honey-wine, as it’s made from honey, water, and wild yeast. Some varieties are brewed with barley, which would then contaminate it with gluten. Another thing to watch out for is if the mead is made in casks or barrels where whiskey or beer was formerly held. All-Wise Meadery for example clearly states that its mead is gluten-free.

Alcohol That Contains Gluten

Beer

Beer mugs table Shutterstock

Beer is largely brewed from barley grains, therefore those who should avoid gluten should also avoid all conventional beers.

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