Recorded since the age of the ancient Greeks, Celiac disease, or gluten-intolerance, is a very serious dietary issue. The disorder is caused by an inability to correctly breakdown and absorb nutrients from certain foods; specifically gluten-proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. That rules out all alcohol, right? Plain and simple, that is wrong.
Still worried? Well, here is a quick guide to gluten free drinking that will quell all of your gluten fears.
SPIRIT BY SPIRIT: A Gluten-Free Cheat Sheet
It is said that through the distillation process (especially in spirits that are distilled multiple times) the gluten proteins are removed from vodka and other spirits. The science behind distillation does actually prove that gluten is removed from alcohol during the process. Even organizations that set guidelines for gluten-free diets give the okay for distilled spirits, but newly diagnosed Celiac patients, or those in any doubt, should stick to alcohol that is purely gluten-free.
Potato or Grape Vodka: Readily available at most bars and restaurants, Potato and Grape Vodkas begin and remain completely gluten-free. They are completely wheat, barley, and rye free; therefore safe for those with celiac. Try Drinking: Chopin Potato Vodka or Ciroc Grape Vodka
Rum: True rum is distilled from sugar cane (eventually becoming molasses), making it 100% gluten-free. Be careful of some spiced or dark rums that may add caramel coloring, which can contain gluten. Also, watch out for anything that says “natural flavors” in flavored rums, which often indicate wheat was used. Try Drinking: Bacardi Superior or Atlantico Private Cask
Tequila/Mezcal: Premium tequilas and mezcals are made with 100% blue agave. You should not be drinking anything that isn’t 100% agave, anyway. Cheaper brands use additives for color and flavor. Avoid these as a general rule, but especially if you are gluten-free. Try Drinking: Tequila Ocho Plata or Don Julio Anejo
Beer/Hard Cider: Gluten-Free Beer has made huge improvements in the last few years in both taste and variety. Both major and craft-style breweries are releasing their own versions. Be aware that some breweries use corn-syrup as an ingredient, so if you are also corn-allergic you should avoid these brands. Also almost all Hard-Ciders are naturally gluten-free, derived from apples or pears. Try Drinking: Dogfish Head Tweason’ale a sorghum based brew made with strawberries and honey or Omission Handcrafted Lager which is made with traditional beer ingredients and then the gluten is removed. Every bottle is tested and you can even look up your bottle’s test results on their website!
Wine: Almost all wine is gluten-free, as it is obviously made from grapes. But what a lot of people don’t consider is the barrelling process. In very few, but some red wines sealed in oak barrels, a flour paste is used to seal the barrel. This leads to the gluten proteins seeping into the wine. The best way to find out the process in making your favorite vino, is to contact the vineyard itself. Try Drinking: Bianchi Petite Sirah or Rutherford Ranch Cabernet
Whiskey/Scotch: The brown stuff is certainly questionable for those whose bodies hate gluten. In the distillation process of any alcohol the gluten is removed. Even if you trust that, both scotch and whiskey are made with barley and there is the chance of cross contamination in the distillery. If you are extremely sensitive, or in the beginning stages of your gluten-free lifestyle, you are best off staying away. There is one reprieve! An amazing pot-distilled whiskey made from 100% New York corn, making it gluten-free. Try Drinking: Hudson Baby Bourbon
If you have an extreme case of Celiac Disease, please take extra precaution and be aware of the production process of the spirits you are consuming. Take into consideration cross-contamination in manufacturing facilities and additives for color and flavor that may be contain gluten.
Follow our Savory Guide to Gluten-Free Drinking and you (and your digestive system) will enjoy your night out on the town!