If you’re on a gluten-free diet, you probably look at labels, checking out your bread, cookies, crackers and cereal to make sure if it’s safe for you to eat. The latest product to get a gluten-free label? Vodka.
Gluten free beer has made its way even to the convenience store aisle, so it’s no surprise that stronger traditionally gluten-based drinks would follow suite, especially given that one out of three people are currently trying to cut gluten out of their diets.
Some vodkas are naturally made with gluten-free ingredients – vodkas made with potatoes for example – but according to the Los Angeles Times, only now are they getting branded with the “gluten-free” label. Devotion vodka – made from American grown, non-GMO corn – says it is the first brand to get the approval of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to put the phrase “gluten-free” on the bottles.
But while vodka may now be getting the gluten-free label, there are many vodkas already on the market that are made with gluten-free ingredients. Fair Quinoa Vodka is made from everyone’s favorite gluten-free grain and there are several companies in the U.S. that are making potato-based vodkas, like Boyd & Blair in Pennsylvania.
Why are people concerned about gluten in their vodka? Because of the use of grains. Wheat, barley and rye are the common vodka bases, which makes some people toss up their conventional cosmpolitan. But even some of the big vodka brands work for people on a gluten-free diet; Smirnoff from example is made from corn, and 100 percent gluten-free.
However, most experts say that the distilling process actually removes gluten from the alcohol, meaning that there is little to no risk for a severe reaction. According to the Canadian Celiac Association, “since the distillation process does not allow proteins to enter the final product, distilled alcohols are gluten free.” Then again the Celiac Support Association recommends potato vodka. But remember, only about 1 percent of the population is affected by Celiac disease, and may be this sensitive to trace gluten that may remain after the distilling process.
So does that make this gluten-free labeling of vodka mean that it’s just a new form of marketing that doesn’t really mean a whole lot? If you’re cynical, you could call the whole thing a very smart marketing scheme. According to Scientific American, “The new labeling has created a marketing frenzy that may become a $6.2-billion gluten-free product industry by 2018.”
But what if you’re extra sensitive to gluten and simply want to avoid it at all costs? Then do some research to see what your vodka is made from and then drink that cosmopolitan in good conscience.
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Image: Christian Senger