Distilled alcohol, even if it is made from a gluten-containing grain, such as wheat, rye or barley, is considered gluten-free. This is because if an alcohol is distilled, proteins from the starting materials that provided the starch or sugar are removed in the distillation process. No protein carries over into the end product (the alcohol). Examples of pure distilled spirits are vodka, gin, whisky, brandy, rum, and tequila. In the case of the elderberry syrup product, the manufacturers identified the grain alcohol as coming from corn – this is, of course, also gluten-free.
The situation is very different for fermented alcohol. Whether a fermented alcohol is considered free of gluten protein depends upon the starting material. Some fermented alcohols are gluten-free (e.g. wine, true hard cider, and labeled gluten-free beer made without barley malt). and some are not gluten-free (e.g. beer and other malt beverages, flavored hard cider containing malt, flavored hard lemonade containing malt, and flavored wine coolers containing malt). To learn more check out our FAQs on Alcohol and the Gluten-Free Diet.
Reviewed October 3, 2022.
Note: This information is provided by NCA and Melinda Dennis, NCA's Senior Consulting Dietitian. This information is meant for educational purposes and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. This information can be printed and used in consultation with your physician or dietitian. No liability is assumed by NCA, Ms. Dennis or her nutrition consulting service Delete the Wheat, LLC. by providing this information..