When I became gluten free, people had all kinds of advice to give me about food, grocery shopping, restaurants, and baking, but no one ever really mentioned alcohol and what I could and couldn’t drink. It turns out that there is definitely some alcohol that contains gluten, and a lot that does not. I have spent the first year of being gluten free (mainly since turning 21) trying to figure out all of this. When you look up gluten free alcohol on the internet, there is a lot of contradictory information.
Additionally, some alcohol that claims to be gluten free (like in my case Smirnoff vodka) will still cause a reaction to some people who are sensitive. It is mainly up to you to try out these drinks and decide for yourself if they work for you or not, but here is my personal guide to alcohol while being gluten free.
Wine: Good news, it’s gluten free! Wine and champagne are both gluten free which is a godsend. It is often my go-to, and I don’t know what I’d do if this drink wasn’t gluten free.
Hard cider: Hard cider is gluten free! Of course still check the brand label before buying to be safe, but most of it is gluten free, like Angry Orchard and Woodchuck. However Redd’s is not.
Rum: Most rum is gluten free, but like anything, read the label first or check online. Bacardi, Captain Morgan and Cruzan are all gluten free among others.
Vodka: This is a tricky one. Many brands claim to be gluten free as there is a theory that the gluten is distilled out of the alcohol in the creation process, but this has not been proven. I have found with most of these brands that I don’t feel well upon drinking them, so it is up to each individual person to make their own decision. The vodka brands I turn to that are definitely gluten free are Tito’s, Ciroc, Cold River, Spud vodka, and all potato vodkas. These are all safe for gluten free AND celiac people!
Tequila: Another tricky one, the safest bet is to go with tequila that has been made the traditional way with agave. Some cheap brands contain gluten called “mixto” so be sure to check. However, Jose Cuervo is gluten free.
Gin and whiskey are not gluten free. Brandy is. Jaegermeister, according to their website contains natural ingredients including herbs and root, so it is likely gluten free. However, they keep their ingredients secret, so there is no way to know for sure. This is another case where you have to use your own judgement.
Gluten free beer: Beer is not gluten free, as it contains wheat. I have to admit I haven’t tried a lot of gluten free varieties , but the ones I’ve had aren’t too bad. That being said I’d rather go with hard cider or wine in a case where everyone is drinking beer, but that’s just my personal preference.
Something new: Spiked seltzer! This is also a great alternative when other people are drinking beer. Certain brands, like “spiked seltzer” are gluten free and say so right on the cans. Some of them are not, so check before buying.
Another good thing to keep in mind is that malt is another name for gluten. Oftentimes this appears on labels and cans of alcohol and is a good thing to keep an eye out for.
While it is tricky to navigate the world of gluten free alcohol, it can be done. I am still learning, as there is so much out there to try! Hopefully in my lifetime more and more alcohol and brands will continue to have gluten free products, which I am confident will happen. Until then, here is the list of things I have found I can drink. Cheers!