Distilling Vodka for Celiac Safety

With long days and hot holidays ahead this summer, happy hours and mixed cocktails are a staple to July and August weekends. Vodka based beverages are among the most popular for an after work libation, but are they safe for the gluten sensitive?

While traditionally made from potato, vodka distilleries have been known to use grapes, corn, and even wheat or other gluten-containing grains. Though experts, including the National Institute of Health, maintain that the distillation process removes harmful gluten that would cause flare ups among celiacs, even if the product is made from gluten-containing ingredients, many celiacs can have serious reactions to products coming from wheat, rye, and other gluten-containing grains. The reactions are similar to that from cross-contaminants, or products made in a facility that also processes gluten, and they just aren’t safe for all celiacs.
Fortunately, there are a number of companies that pride themselves on completely gluten-free liquor. Smirnoff, for example, distills vodka from corn, rendering it a celiac-friendly vodka, and one of the most commercially available.

The Aristocrat Group Corp. recently announced the launch of RWB Ultra-Premium Handcrafted Vodka by Luxuria Brands. The company uses Idaho potatoes as the base for their vodka, and is in the process of conducting blind taste tests to ensure product standards on par with the top shelf vodkas currently available. The new product, set to debut in August, seeks to cater towards the gluten-free market, an industry that is projected to generate $6.2 billion of revenue by 2018, with a celiac-safe liquor.

What’s your favorite summer beverage? Have you had any trouble with distilled liquors in the past and thought you’d have to swear it off for good?

5 thoughts on “Distilling Vodka for Celiac Safety”

  1. Vodka’s made from corn or potato are GF.
    Grain Vodkas are not.

    I need to be GF and tested that. Got sick on all grain alcohols.

  2. I find that any vodka distilled more than 3 times to have no effect on me. If drinking straight vodka my favorite is Ciroc, a french vodka made from grapes. If mixing I usually use Luksusowa a triple distilled potato vodka, though I have also used Rain and Sky 5 time distilled vodkas from grain without a problem. Sadly I’ve had to give up scotch which even the finest versions effect me negatively, though more like consuming something that was exposed to cross contamination.

  3. But, is Smirnoff produced in a dedicated, gluten-free facility? Because distillation is not the last step in vodka-making; it’s just a middle step. There are two steps after the distillation step in vodka-making: the blending step, and then, the bottling step.

    During the blending step, Smirnoff adds filtered, deionized water to the corn ethanol to make its vodka; but, it also adds a sweetner, artificial flavors, and / or aromas. “Regular” vodkas actually contain a small amount of sweetener, if nothing else. Sometimes the sweetener’s cane sugar, sometimes it’s glycerol, and sometimes it’s something else.

    If Smirnoff adds anything besides corn ethanol and water to its vodka during the blending step? If so, is anything it’s adding gluten free? And if Smirnoff isn’t producing in a gluten-free facility, what does it do to eliminate gluten cross-contamination during the blending process?

    The last step is bottling. If Smirnoff isn’t bottling its vodka in a gluten free facility, it may be cross-contaminated by gluten. This is why Steaz energy drinks had a warning on their product labels for a while, stating their products are bottled in a brewery and may contain gluten.

    If you call Smirnoff and ask any of the questions I just asked, good luck getting an answer. Everything’s “trade secret,” and they’re not going to tell you what you need to know to make a safe purchasing decision.

    I read about a potato vodka produced in Maine. It’s called Cold River and it’s produced in a dedicated, gluten-free distillery called Maine Distilleries. After reading about this vodka, I feel I can make a safe purchasing decision. The owners seem to be transparent about their processes.

  4. I don’t think that all vodkas are safe for Celiac’s/GF sensitivity. I have had reactions to vodka and severe hang overs, which is something I noticed even before I knew I had to be GF. One thing I notice is immediate swelling, any rings would have to come off and jeans would get tight, etc. Recently on a trip I had a couple vodka based martinis and the next day my feet and ankles were completely swollen. The brand does seem to make a difference and top of the line isn’t always better for me in this regard.

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