Is Distilled Alcohol Safe for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Many gluten-free people wonder if Distilled Alcohol is safe for a gluten-free lifestyle. The answer? As long as nothing has been added back in after distillation, it’s safe.

I wrote this post because personally, I went through a wild ride of trying to decide if distilled alcohol was actually safe because I was still reacting! Keep reading to find out why…

Is distilled alcohol safe for a gluten-free lifestyle - Tayler Silfverduk DTR - can I drink whiskey on a gluten-free diet? Is distilled alcohol safe for people with celiac? Are distilled alcohols really gluten-free? #glutenfreealcohol #grainfreealcohol #celiacsafealcohol #celiacsafe #alcoholguide #celiacguidetoalcohol #glutenfreedrinks #glutenfreeliquor

What is Distilled Alcohol?

As so eloquently put by the Encyclopedia of Britannica

Distilled spirit, also called distilled liquor, [is an] alcoholic beverage (such as brandy, whisky, rum, or arrack) that is obtained by distillation from wine or other fermented fruit or plant juice or from a starchy material (such as various grains) that has first been brewed.”

Encyclopedia Britannica

Because distilled alcohols are removed from the fermentation components, they are gluten-free.

Essentially, because proteins don’t make it through distillation, people living gluten-free don’t need to worry about them, unless of course, they bother you anyways and in that case, your body knows best!

Examples of Distilled Alcohol

  • Brandy
  • Whisky
  • Rum
  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Tequila
  • Bourbon

How is Alcohol Distilled & Gluten-Free?

To understand how alcohol is gluten-free, we first must understand the distilling process. Distilling basically is the process of separating alcohol from other substances (like water).

Alcohols that are distilled start off as diluted versions of themselves and then through distillation become more concentrated.

Again, the Encyclopedia of Britannica breaks down the general summary of the process so eloquently as:

“The principle of alcoholic distillation is based upon the different boiling points of alcohol (78.5 °C, or 173.3 °F) and water (100 °C, or 212 °F). If a liquid containing ethyl alcohol is heated to a temperature above 78.5 °C but below 100 °C and the vapour coming off the liquid is condensed, the condensate will have a higher alcohol concentration, or strength.”

Encyclopedia Britannica

Meaning, alcohol is concentrated through the removal of other substances that aren’t alcohol found in the ferment. These other substances are known as the distillate. They include proteins like gluten.

This removal of substances relies on the different boiling points of the fermentation components (think water and alcohol).

Because the boiling point of alcohol is lower than water, you can bring alcohol to a boil and remove it through vaporization while leaving the water and other distillates (like gluten) behind.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) understands this, and thus changed their gluten-free labeling laws of distilled alcohol in 2020. Ruling that as long as distilled alcohol manufacturers are following good manufacturing practices and preventing cross-contact of gluten with these products, they may use a gluten-free claim on distilled alcohols. 

gluten removed beer process vs. gluten-free distilled alcohol process - tayler silfverduk, RD
Inspired by Holidaily Brewing Company's graphic - also shared by GFWD (

Do Not Confuse Distillation With Gluten-Removed Beers

Because we can remove gluten from distilled alcohols via distillation, people may logically think we can do the same thing to beer. However, the process of reducing or removing gluten from beer is  different from distillation and is largely consider unsafe for people with celiac disease.

Remember, distillation is removing alcohol from distillates based on boiling point. It also is what makes alcohol content more potent in liquors. This removal can be measured in the product, despite the initial alcohol being fermented.

However, when removing gluten from beer, they are not distilling, instead they are using enzymes to break the gluten down into it’s small fragments, which is suggested to reduce the celiac autoimmune response. However, we have no validated way to verify fermented products like this are gluten-free unlike with distilled products, and when researched, some celiac patients still reacted at an antibody level.

So distilled alcohols are safe, gluten removed beers are not.

Why Distilled Alcohols Aren't All Gluten-free

Distilled alcohols aren’t all safe because of the potential to add in gluten-containing additives after distillation. Some distilled alcohols add back in the mash after distillation to add a distinct taste.

Mash is a mixture of ingredients used to start and flavor the alcohol in fermentation. When it comes to gluten grain-based alcohols, this mash has gluten in it. Meaning, when you add it back in, it will reintroduce gluten after distillation.

Some Distilled Alcohols that aren’t safe: (not an all inclusive list)

Distilled Alcohols that might cause a reaction depending on sensitivity: (not an all inclusive list)

  • Single Malt Scotch (typically pot distilled only twice)
  • Single Malt Whisky ((typically pot distilled only twice)

Additionally, it’s important to be careful of flavored distilled alcohols. Often flavorings can have gluten (for example, sometimes malt or other derivatives are added).

Update: Barcardi Rum Silver or Barcardi Superior, is now gluten-free per their website!


Is distilled alcohol safe for a gluten-free lifestyle? If there are no gluten-containing additives added after distillation, then yes! And given the new 2020 TTB ruling on gluten-free labeling, this will be easier to determine.

But ultimately, in my book, your body has the final say. If you react poorly to alcohols distilled from gluten-containing products, then they obviously aren’t safe for you. And if you react to all alcohol poorly, it may be time to consider an alcohol intolerance.

Want more help with gluten-free alcohol? Click here for my tips for ordering drinks at bars.

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