What alcohol is gluten-free?

Wine and spirits in glasses

One of the most common questions from adult patients newly diagnosed with celiac disease is about alcohol. Is whiskey gluten-free? Does vodka have gluten in it? Can I drink wine? Beer? Mixed drinks?

Does alcohol have gluten?

Most alcoholic drinks, including wine, gluten-free beer and most spirits do not contain gluten.

Alcoholic beverages are regulated by either the Food and Drug Administration or the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Unfortunately, neither organization makes their policies clear or easy to understand. The FDA’s guidelines for including the term “gluten-free” is available in the TTB’s information is more ambiguous:

“Consistent with the new FDA regulations, TTB will continue to consider “gluten-free” label claims for alcohol beverages that are made from gluten-containing grains to be misleading to consumers who are seeking to avoid the consumption of gluten for health reasons. However, products made from gluten-containing grains may be labeled with a statement that the product was 'Processed,' 'Treated,' or 'Crafted' to remove gluten, if that claim is made together with a qualifying statement that warns the consumer that the gluten content of the product cannot be determined and that the product may contain gluten.”

What does this mean for you when you're picking out a cocktail?

Which liquors are gluten-free? Is vodka gluten-free?

Bottles that are marked “gluten-free” contain product that is made from ingredients that do not naturally have gluten in them, such as potatoes for vodka and grapes for wine.

Are grain alcohols — like bourbon and whiskey  — gluten-free?

Liquors that are distilled from gluten-containing grains, such as rye or barley, are generally considered to be safe as well. The distillation process removes proteins, including gluten, from the liquor.

Is flavored liquor gluten-free? 

Flavored distilled liquor can be problematic, however, because the flavoring is added after the distillation process and therefore can introduce gluten back into the product. In the case of flavored distilled liquors, you should contact the manufacturer to learn the gluten-free status of the end product.

Is gluten-removed beer safe for people with celiac disease?

We know that beer made from non-gluten-containing ingredients is safe to consume. However, we do not recommend drinking gluten-removed beer, which is made from gluten-containing ingredients but processed to remove gluten. Its gluten-free status cannot be accurately confirmed by available testing options and it's best to avoid it. (Learn more about the different gluten-free beer options here)

Is egg nog gluten-free?

And what about egg nog, that holiday party staple? The egg nog itself is very likely to be gluten-free. You just need to verify the liquor that has been added to it. Most bourbon is fine, but stay away from egg nog spiked with cinnamon-flavored whiskey, for example, which is most likely not gluten free.

Gluten-Free Alcohol List

Another resource you might consider is