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Is gin gluten-free?


Updated May 28, 2014

Is gin gluten-free?
Getty Images/Peter Dazeley

Question: Is gin gluten-free?


This is a controversial subject. Most experts say gin, a form of alcohol normally made from a mix of grains that can include wheat, barley, rye and corn, is considered gluten-free because it's distilled. But many people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity react to gin and to other gluten-derived forms of alcohol.

The National Institutes of Health, as part of its Celiac Awareness Campaign, declares that gin and other alcoholic beverages distilled from gluten grains are safe for those on a gluten-free diet, since distillation removes enough of the gluten protein to render the drink gluten-free, at least to the accepted 20 parts per million standard.

However, the Celiac Sprue Association advises celiacs to drink only alcoholic beverages that are not derived from gluten grains. And many people with gluten sensitivity or celiac report serious gluten reactions from gin made with gluten grains.

So if you crave a gin martini, how should you proceed? I'd move cautiously, especially if you're newly diagnosed and still getting the hang of the diet. You may find that you can consume gin without issue.

But watch out for symptoms, such as a hangover that seems way out of proportion to the amount of alcohol you consumed. If you find you're reacting badly to gin, you may want to consider switching to potato vodka, rum, wine or gluten-free beer, none of which use gluten grains as ingredients.

You may also want to try a gin that's made from something other than gluten grains. Maine Distilleries' Cold River Gin, made from potatoes, represents one option, while G-Vine gin products, made from grapes, are another.


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