Is All Vodka Really Gluten-Free?


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Vodka is made from grains, primarily rye, which is a gluten-based grain. The grains used to make vodka are combined with water and then heated. Yeast is added to the pulpy mixture to promote the fermentation process, which converts the sugars in the grain into alcohol. Once fermentation is complete, the distillation process can begin. This process removes the gluten.

However, there are other types of vodka that are made from potatoes, corn, and other gluten-free substances. Potato vodka, especially, is readily available in liquor stores, bars, and restaurants. Read on to learn more about vodka and gluten.

Is Vodka Gluten-Free?

Vodka is considered gluten-free, even if it's distilled from gluten grains (wheat, barley, or rye). In fact, the National Celiac Association states that distilled alcoholic beverages are safe to drink, even if they're made from gluten sources. However, some people still experience gluten-related symptoms from any form of alcohol that started its life as gluten grains, and that includes vodka made from wheat or rye (it's not as common to find a vodka that contains barley).

It's not clear why this is, although some experts have speculated that it could be due to gluten cross-contamination following distillation. Others have theorized that it could be a reaction to tiny fragments of the gluten protein that might remain in the gluten grain-based vodka even after distillation. Meanwhile, others believe that the immune systems of those who are especially sensitive to gluten can detect partial pieces of gluten protein that survive distillation. It's also possible that there's something else in the grain—beyond the gluten protein—that survives distillation and causes a reaction in particularly sensitive people.

Of course, there has not been enough scientific research to prove or disprove any of this, just anecdotal experience from those who react to gluten-grain-based alcohol such as wheat-based vodka. If you have a gluten reaction to gluten-based alcohol such as vodka made from wheat, then it's probably best to avoid those products.

Keep in mind that excessive consumption of alcohol can cause problems far beyond a glutening. For example, it can lead to bone loss and osteoporosis, which is already a concern for some people who have celiac disease.

Gluten-Free Vodka: Alternatives to Gluten Grain-Based

If you notice symptoms with a gluten grain-based vodka, but you really like the taste of vodka drinks, you're in luck. There are plenty of vodkas on the market that are not wheat-based (although some are made in facilities that also distill gluten grains and could still potentially be a problem due to cross-contamination).

In fact, these "gluten-free vodkas" have become very popular. Some people even believe that potato-based or grape-based vodkas are "smoother" and don't provoke as bad a hangover if you overindulge. Steering clear of gluten-grain-based vodka should actually be pretty easy, with options including potato vodka, corn vodka, grape vodka, and even fig vodka.

Potato vodka is quite common, especially in imports from northern Europe. The vodka distillery Smirnoff makes its vodka from corn. Other, smaller companies make well-rated vodkas from grapes and sugarcane.

For a complete, extensive list of gluten-free vodkas, see this gluten-free vodka list. This list also includes information about potential cross-contamination issues and some other shopping hints.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Is it safe for people with celiac disease to drink vodka? 

Pure, distilled vodka is considered to be gluten-free, even if it is made with gluten-based grains. Because of the distillation process, people with celiac disease should be able to safely consume vodka—though this is not always the case among those who are particularly sensitive to trace amounts of gluten or cross-contamination.

However, some types of vodka, especially flavored vodka, may contain trace amounts of gluten hidden in the ingredients that have been added after distillation. Those diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid flavored vodkas to be safe. Always read ingredients labels carefully or contact the manufacturer if the list of ingredients is not fully disclosed on the label.

Which types of alcohol are gluten-free?

Any distilled alcohol is considered gluten-free. This would include vodka, as well as bourbon, whiskey, scotch, tequila, mezcal, gin, rum, cognac, brandy, absinthe, and vermouth. However, some individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity who are prone to reactions from trace amounts of gluten should still read ingredients labels carefully to avoid getting sick.

A Word from Verywell

If you're wondering whether gluten grain-based vodka is truly gluten-free, the key is to listen to your own body. It's always possible there could be something other than the gluten protein that's responsible for any symptoms you might be experiencing.

While most experts state that distilled gluten-grain based vodka should be safe for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, some anecdotal reports have suggested otherwise. Fortunately, gluten-free alternatives to gluten grain-based vodkas are available for those who are especially sensitive. Just remember to consume alcohol in moderation to avoid adverse effects. 

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

  2. Minnick F. Should vodka be marketed as gluten-free?Scientific American. November 18, 2013.

  3. Currie S, Hoggard N, Clark MJR, et al. Alcohol induces sensitization to gluten in genetically susceptible individuals: a case control studyPLoS One. 2013;8(10):e77638. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077638

  4. Duerksen D, Pinto-Sanchez MI, Anca A, et al. Management of bone health in patients with celiac disease: Practical guide for clinicians. Can Fam Physician. 2018;64(6):433-438.

  5. Beyond Celiac. Is vodka gluten-free?.

  6. Beyond Celiac. Is liquor gluten-free?.

Additional Reading

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