Is Bourbon Whiskey Gluten-Free?

Some people with celiac disease can experience a reaction

Can you drink bourbon if you're gluten-free?

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

If you're on a gluten-free diet, you may wonder if bourbon fits in. Bourbon—a form of whiskey that's considered "America's Native Spirit"—must be made from at least 51% corn, which is a gluten-free grain. However, the rest of the mash that goes into bourbon (up to 49% of the total) generally comes from wheat, barley, and rye, which are, of course, the three main gluten grains.

Is Bourbon Gluten Free?

Bourbon is sometimes considered gluten-free. Some experts say that people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity can safely drink pure distilled bourbon and even other alcoholic beverages distilled from gluten grains. The National Celiac Association states that distilled alcohol is considered gluten-free because the process of distillation removes the harmful gluten protein.

Is Bourbon Gluten-Free?

You can drink bourbon on a gluten-free diet as long as the product you select is pure, distilled bourbon.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which regulates alcoholic beverages in the United States, revised a policy in 2014 that stated beverages made from gluten grains cannot legally carry the claim "gluten-free" since gluten (or fragments of the gluten protein) remaining in such drinks may not be detected easily even with testing technology.

However, as long as the products are made without gluten ingredients, such as, in most cases, wine from fermented grapes or vodka from potatoes, the TTB will permit gluten-free labels on such alcoholic beverages and advertisements.

For products that may contain a trace amount of gluten, producers are allowed to truthfully explain on the label how the alcohol was treated in order to remove gluten, as long as it also contains a disclaimer that the product may contain gluten and that the information on the label is obvious.

Should You Drink Bourbon?

The majority of people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity may not have a reaction to alcohol distilled from gluten grains. But a substantial minority do react, which is why there's some debate as to whether or not it's safe.

It's not clear how many people get sick from these beverages, but it's enough that if you're new to the diet, you should try bourbon and other gluten-grain-containing alcoholic beverages with caution, especially at first.

Popular Gluten-Free Bourbon Brands

  • Hudson Baby Bourbon
  • Koval Bourbon Whiskey
  • Yellow Rose Outlaw Bourbon
  • New Southern Revival 100% Jimmy Red Corn
  • Balcones Texas Blue Corn Bourbon

Try Corn Bourbon

If you react badly to gluten-grain-based alcohol, consider 100% corn bourbon. Options include Hudson Baby Bourbon, Koval Bourbon Whiskey, Yellow Rose Outlaw Bourbon, New Southern Revival 100% Jimmy Red Corn, or Balcone Texas Blue Corn Bourbon.

Be aware that these bourbon producers make no claims to being gluten-free or free of gluten cross-contamination (most are small distilleries that also process gluten grains such as rye). However, they could be an option for some people who crave bourbon but react to most of those out there on the market.

Other Alcohol Options

If you can't drink bourbon, there are still plenty of gluten-free alcoholic beverages out there for you to try, including wine, gluten-free vodka, rum, and gluten-free beer.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Celiac Disease Foundation. Gluten-free foods.

  2. Beyond Celiac. Is bourbon gluten-free?.

  3. National Celiac Association. Is alcohol made from grain safe for celiacs?.

  4. Manfreda JJ. Revised Interim Policy on Gluten Content Statements in the Labeling and Advertising of Wine, Distilled Spirits, and Malt Beverages. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

By Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson is a medical journalist and an expert in celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and the gluten-free diet.