By/ Last Modified On September 26, 2023
Here at Gluten-Free Palate, we know how complicated the gluten-free alcohol space can be. Today, we’re focusing on whiskey, seeing as bourbon whiskey is considered America’s native spirit.
We will answer all your questions, including: Is whiskey gluten-free? What is whiskey made from? What whiskey is gluten-free? This is truly your one-stop gluten-free whiskey blog post.
Is Whiskey Gluten-Free?
Let’s start by answering the most important question: Does whiskey have gluten? No, whiskey does not contain gluten. Whiskey is gluten-free. Yes, even though some whiskeys are made with gluten-containing grains like barley, rye, and wheat. It all comes down to the distillation process.
The fermented grains are heated until they vaporize, and this vapor becomes whiskey. Gluten proteins aren’t volatile and don’t vaporize, so they aren’t a part of the final product.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) revised its policy on gluten-free distilled spirits in 2020. This ruling allowed spirits distilled from gluten-containing grains to be labeled gluten-free as long as “good manufacturing practices are followed” that prevent gluten-containing ingredients from entering the final product.
What Is Whiskey Made From?
Whiskey is made from various grains, depending on the type of whiskey. The grain is malted, mashed, fermented, distilled, and then aged anywhere from two years up to 72.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the main grains in the most common whiskey types:
- Blended whiskey: A blend of barley, corn, and/or wheat
- Bourbon whiskey: At least 51% corn and no additives (just water)
- Rye whiskey: 51 to 100% rye
- Single grain Scotch whiskey: 100% corn or wheat
- Single malt Irish whiskey: 100% malted barley
- Single malt Scotch whiskey: 100% malted barley
- Tennessee sour mash whiskey (a.k.a Tennesse bourbon, a.k.a Jack Daniels): 51 to 79% corn
Why Do Some People Experience Symptoms Although Whiskey Is Gluten-Free?
There are a few reasons celiacs might have a negative reaction to whiskey:
- There’s always a risk of the product being cross-contaminated with gluten if produced in a gluten-containing facility.
- Some whiskey brands include gluten-containing additives, so we always recommend reading the label for hidden flavorings like caramel coloring.
- On rare occasions, a small amount of the undistilled mashed grain enters the drink after the distilling process.
If you do have a reaction, you can try whiskey made from a 100% gluten-free grain like corn or sorghum. Alternatively, try a different gluten-free alcohol, like wine or gluten-free cider.
The Best Gluten-Free Whiskey Brands
Here is a comprehensive gluten-free whiskey list.
The company says Chivas Regal whiskey is “completely safe for celiacs” as no gluten passes the distillation process. If you’re looking for a gluten-free Scotch whiskey, this blended option is highly regarded by many.
Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey is known for its smooth finish. It’s made with a combination of corn and malted barley that’s aged in charred oak barrels. You can’t go wrong with a bottle of Crown Royal.
A renowned Tennessee whiskey, Jack Daniel’s is one of the most popular gluten-free whiskeys. It’s a blended whiskey made of 80% corn, 12% rye, and 8% malted barley. The Jack Daniel’s website confirms that there’s no gluten in the alcohol as it’s removed in the distilling process.
We can also confirm there’s no gluten in other varieties, like Tennessee Honey and Tennessee Apple, which combines gluten-free whiskey with real apples. Get a bottle of Jack Daniel’s delivered directly to your door and get ready to enjoy a Jack and Coke, seeing as Coca-Cola is also gluten-free.
James. F.C. Hyde Sorgho Whiskey is an award-winning American whiskey produced in New Jersey. It won gold at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Called the “most unique and innovative American whiskey since the Civil War,” the gluten-free whiskey is made from 100% American-grown gluten-free sorghum. If you have a reaction to any of the other whiskies mentioned, try James F.C. Hyde Sorgho Whiskey.
Jameson just might win the award for best gluten-free Irish whiskey. It’s made from malted and unmalted barley harvested directly in Ireland. This is combined with water fresh from the Dungourney River, which flows right by the distillery. Try a bottle of the best-selling Jameson Irish Whiskey today.
Jim Beam is the world’s best-selling bourbon and fortunately, celiacs don’t have to miss out! Because bourbon in the States has to be made with at least 51% corn, Jim Bean is made by blending corn with malted barley. If you’ve never given it a go, find out why Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey is so popular.
Johnnie Walker Red Label is an award-winning gluten-free Scotch whiskey. It won two gold medals at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, in fact. For a Johnnie and Ginger, pair a shot of Johnnie Walker with squeezed lime and gluten-free ginger ale.
There are several gluten-free whiskeys to choose from at Johnnie Walker, including Red Label, Blue Label, and Black Label. They’re all gluten-free blended Scotch whiskeys; the difference is in the aging process.
Knob Creek also has many gluten-free whiskies available. Start with the classic – Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey; made in small batches and aged in white oak barrels. If you’re looking for a gluten-free rye whiskey, Knob Creek also has you covered.
KOVAL is a family-owned and operated distillery in the Midwest. All KOVAL whiskeys are certified organic and kosher and use locally sourced ingredients. Their award winner is KOVAL Bourbon Whiskey, which is made from a unique combination of 51% corn and 49% millet. The good news is they’re both naturally gluten-free grains. Would you prefer a gluten-free rye whiskey, an oat whiskey, or a gluten-free whiskey made from 100% millet? Luckily, KOVAL has them all.
The New Southern Revival Sorghum Whiskey from High Wire Distilling Co. is a unique gluten-free tipple. It’s distilled from 100% sorghum syrup (a naturally gluten-free grain), which they source from a family farm in Tennessee. It’s only available in limited quantities as the syrup is produced just once a year – from September to October. So be quick to snag a bottle of this gluten-free sorghum whiskey.
Made from 100% Wisconsin sorghum and aged in charred oak barrels from Minnesota, Queen Jennie is another great gluten-free whiskey option. As for the taste, the Queen Jennie team says it’s “less sour than a bourbon and less harsh than a rye.” Ready to give this gluten-free sorghum whiskey a go?
The S.S. Sorghum Whiskey is a limited release, so you have to quickly swoop in and snatch it up. But your reward is a gluten-free whiskey made from 100% Missouri sorghum that’s double-distilled and aged for over seven years.
We can’t forget about Wild Turkey, one of the most affordable American bourbons available on the market. Fortunately, it’s a gluten-free bourbon whiskey made from corn, barley, and rye. Pick up a bottle of Wild Turkey today.
Related: When you’re shopping for gluten-free products, these gluten-free apps are lifesavers.
Whiskey Brands That Aren’t Gluten-Free
The main whiskey brand that causes a bit of controversy in the gluten-free space is Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey: America’s number one shot and whiskey brand. While it should be gluten-free like the rest, Fireball actually states on its website that it may be produced in a facility that contains milk, peanuts, tree nuts, and wheat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is There Gluten in Jack Daniel’s?
If you’re wondering: Is Jack Daniel’s gluten-free? We’re pleased to report that the Jack Daniel’s website confirms there’s no gluten in Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, as it’s removed during the distilling process.
Does Crown Royal Contain Gluten?
No, Crown Royal contains no gluten.
Does Jim Beam Have Gluten in It?
No, Jim Beam is a gluten-free whiskey.
Is Jameson Whiskey Gluten Free?
Yes, Jameson Irish Whiskey is gluten-free.
Which Alcohol Has The Most Gluten?
Beer has the most gluten, as it’s typically made from fermented barley, a gluten-containing grain. But unlike distilled spirits, the gluten remains. Fortunately, there are lots of gluten-free beers available, so celiacs don’t have to miss out on any alcohol variations.
You’re All Set With Gluten-Free Whiskey
So, is whiskey gluten-free? Yes, it is!
But if you ever have an adverse reaction (as mentioned, it unfortunately can happen), try a whiskey made from entirely gluten-free grains like corn or sorghum.
Alternatively, try a different gluten-free alcohol. As you can see, there are plenty to choose from. Cheers!