Is whisky gluten free?

by Paramount Digital

Gluten free whisky made from barley

Fan of a wee dram, but have recently been diagnosed with coeliac disease?

Or maybe you’re searching for a thoughtful (and safe!) gift for someone with gluten intolerance?

Whisky is typically made from cereal grains such as rye, wheat and barley – all of which contain high levels of gluten. So it’s understandable that you’re wary.

Does that mean it isn’t safe to drink?

Surprisingly, the answer is no. Gluten intolerant or not, there’s absolutely no need to deprive yourself or ditch the idea of a whisky tasting set in favour of something else. Here we explain why.  

The purifying power of distillation

Wheat, rye and barley are a big no-no for anyone with coeliac disease.

In fact, they’re the three main gluten-containing grains – and as they’re used to make whisky, it’s natural to assume that whisky is off the ‘safe to consume’ list. But thankfully, that’s not the case.

The act of creating the spirit actually removes any traces of gluten.


Pot stills used during the distillation process


Whisky is made via a process of distillation.

This is a traditional technique, in which prolonged heat is used to vaporise the liquid and separate it into its component parts. The different components vaporise at different temperatures. And as gluten doesn’t vaporise at all, it doesn’t pass through into the final distilled liquid.

Even if wheat, rye or barley are the starting ingredients – by the end of the distillation process – all that’s left is alcohol, water and a few congeners which contribute towards the flavour.

In other words, you’re left with a ‘coeliac safe’ whisky….


Is whisky officially classed as gluten free?

Due to the purifying power of distillation, official guidance – from organisations such as Coeliac UK and the NHS – is that whisky is gluten free and can be enjoyed safely as part of a gluten-free diet.

In fact, the same applies to any alcohol that is produced using this method. Gin, vodka, rum, brandy, sherry, tequila etc. They all go through the same magical process, in which the liquid is distilled (1-3 times or more), and the gluten in the original grain is eliminated.

 Man drinking gluten free whisky from our whisky tasting set


Of course, people vary in terms of their gluten sensitivity. Even the tiniest trace of gluten can lead to a reaction in some. And the distillation process isn’t 100% perfect. So it’s still worth being careful. Always try a small amount – and see how you react – before polishing off the rest of the bottle.

It’s also important to look out for ‘hidden’ glutens.

Brands can sometimes add flavourings and colourings, after the distillation process, that may contain gluten. However, if this is the case, legislation is in place to ensure the product is clearly labelled and states the full list of gluten-containing ingredients that have been used.

Browse our whisky gifts with confidence

Generally speaking, whisky is safe for consumption by people with coeliac disease.

There’s no need to give up your favourite tipple, just because your immune system isn’t a fan of gluten. And you’re safe to treat yourself – or your whisky-loving gluten-free friend – to any of the whisky gifts and whisky tasting sets in our collection.

So what’s stopping you? Browse the range today and enjoy!


Gluten free whisky gift


Here at Whisky Tasting Company, we appreciate how serious coeliac disease can be. And we fully understand why, before placing an order, you may wish to double-check suitability – particularly if you’re buying the set as a present. Which is why we’re always on hand to help.

Not only do we have exceptional knowledge of all the whiskies featured in our sets – including their ingredients (before and after distillation) – customer service is at the heart of our business. We’ll do everything we can to ease your concerns and identify the perfect product for you.  

To discuss our gluten free whisky sets in further detail, you’re welcome to call us at any time on 01743 247220. Or if you prefer, simply fill out our online contact form. We’ll respond to your enquiry as soon as possible with as much additional information as we can.