This post may contain affiliate links for which I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more info, check out my Disclosure Policy. Thank you for your support!
Often on a gluten free diet you focus on what you can and cannot eat, and forget about drinks which may contain gluten. And one of the most commonly asked questions I get is: which alcohol is gluten free?
Let me run through all the alcoholic drinks which are gluten free, which drinks need to be avoided on a gluten free diet, and the weird alcohol labelling rules.
I'll start off with good news - most alcoholic drinks are gluten free and safe for people with coeliac disease to drink.
As always this comes with caveats. But largely you'll be able to find a lot gluten free alcohol to drink in the pub.
And of course, before the fun police come for me, please always drink responsibly.
Which alcohol is gluten free?
The following alcoholic drinks are generally gluten free and coeliac-safe:
- Wines (including sparkling wines)
Wine is made from naturally gluten free grapes, while cider is made from naturally gluten free apples.
Some ciders are labelled as gluten free but generally they are all gluten free by ingredients anyway.
Sherry, port and fortified wines are also made from grapes, making them naturally gluten free.
The caveat to this is that very rarely I have seen some wines carry a 'may contain traces of gluten' warnings. Once, in fact.
I have only seen one case on a Facebook group before and it was very bizarre. I've never personally found any wine with this warning on myself.
But I thought it worth mentioning as we all know, you can never be too careful.
I'd always advice double checking the label but as a rule, wines are gluten free. This includes Champagne, Prosecco and other sparkling wines.
Are spirits gluten free?
Most people get confused when it comes to spirits. The guidance from national charity Coeliac UK is that ALL spirits are gluten free.
And yes, this includes any spirits derived from gluten containing grains like wheat or barley.
That is because during the distillation process all traces of gluten are removed from the drinks, making them gluten free and safe for people with coeliac disease.
This means all alcoholic spirits are gluten free, including:
Is whisky gluten free?
Yes, whisky is gluten free. Even malt whisky, made from barley, is safe for people with coeliac disease to drink.
This is because during the manufacturing process when the drink is distilled, all traces of gluten are removed from the finished product.
Is gin gluten free?
Gin lovers, rejoice. Because the good news is that gin IS gluten free!
Pure distilled gin, even if it is made from wheat or barley, is considered to be gluten free as the levels of gluten would be below 20 parts per million (ppm).
Again, this is because the manufacturing process of distilling the drink ensures there is no gluten remaining.
Which alcohol contains gluten?
The easy way to remember which alcohol contains gluten is by saying 'Oh BALS!'
Because Beers, Ales, Lagers and Stouts (aka BALS), unless specified as gluten free, are NOT suitable for a gluten free diet.
You can buy some delicious gluten free beers in most supermarkets and from craft breweries, but most standard beers are not gluten free.
This includes popular brands such as Corona, Budweiser, Peroni, Stella Artois, Fosters and Guinness.
Can I buy gluten free beer?
You can buy both naturally gluten free beer and gluten removed beer from the supermarkets.
All of these will be clearly certified gluten free on the packaging.
Most gluten free beers found in the free from aisle are 'gluten removed'; which means the levels of gluten are below 20 part per million.
However, gluten removed beer is usually still made from barley, so the labels will state 'contains barley' due to allergen labelling laws.
If you see this sort of labelling on a beer marked as 'gluten free' then it is deemed safe for coeliac consumption (just not for anyone with a barley allergy!).
Gluten free beers made without the use of barley are harder to come by, so I'd recommend searching for craft breweries if you want to try these.
But generally there are lots of gluten free beers available that are suitable for a person with coeliac disease.
So I highly recommend checking these out and finding a new favourite rather than pining over the traditional, gluten containing beers you miss.
Are cocktails gluten free?
Cocktails are usually where the lines can get a little blurry and may require some further investigation.
Most cocktails will contain spirits, fruit juice and sometimes fizzy wine - so will be naturally gluten free.
However others may have the addition of syrups, which can sometimes contain gluten.
Or in the case of a Bloody Mary, Worcestershire Sauce, which is often not gluten free.
It is always important to double check the ingredients of a cocktail as you would any other menu item.
Do not forget when at your favourite bar that you still need to be as careful about what you drink as you are when ordering food.
Help - I can't find the ingredients!
In some weird labelling loophole, alcoholic drinks with a strength by volume (abv) of more than 1.2% don't actually have to list all their ingredients.
It's a bizarre rule which makes little sense but the exception is, they do still have to label any allergens contained in the drink.
So, for example, a canned cocktail may not list the ingredients but if it contains wheat then it will have to mention this on the label as an allergen.
However, a product which has the allergen in the name, such as Wheat Beer, does not have to state it contains wheat.
Confusing? Yes. And a bit backwards in terms of the way most allergen labelling is going, if you ask me.
But if you're ever in doubt if a product contains gluten, I'd always advise trying to contact the manufacturer directly to find out.
NEED MORE ADVICE ON A GLUTEN FREE DIET?
If you're looking for more helpful hints and tips for living with coeliac disease and life on a gluten free diet then look no further.
Hopefully these articles will be of interest but you can always check out my Coeliac Tips page as well for all my helpful guides.
- Is Orzo gluten free?
- Gluten Free Easter Eggs
- Is Corona gluten free?
- Guide to Gluten Free Christmas Chocolate
- Is baking powder gluten free?
- Guide to gluten free oat milk (UK)