In May 2013, a Potato Vodka became the first spirit to receive gluten-free labeling with the TTB. After this, every distiller’s worst nightmare began with the question, “Is THIS vodka gluten free?”
Labeling vodka as gluten free has become a lucrative marketing tool for many US brands. In the past few years, gluten free lifestyles have become increasingly popular, which distillers saw as a perfect way to rebrand their (already) gluten free vodka.
Pure, distilled vodka, even if it is made from wheat, barley, or rye, is considered gluten-free, and is even safe for people with celiac disease. “Distilled spirits, because of the distillation process, should contain no detectable gluten residues or gluten peptide residues,” says Steve Taylor, co-director of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Food Allergy Research and Resource Program.
The process starts with raw materials, grain (rye, wheat, barley, or corn) which are sprouted, or potatoes which are cooked, and transforming the starch they contain into sugar. Next, the raw materials are crushed, or ground, and mixed with water to produce a mash. Then the process of fermentation takes place in a stainless steel vat. When fermentation has finished, the alcohol is transferred to a still for distillation. At Saint Lawrence Spirits, we distill our vodka three times through our Vendome Still to make the vodka cleaner and have fewer impurities, including any trace of gluten.
However, it is important to note that some distilleries choose to add flavorings or other additives after distillation, which is one way that gluten could end up in the final product. That is not the case for Saint Lawrence Spirits Distillery, as all of our products are made with all natural ingredients from within New York State and we see no need to add sugars or flavorings to any of our spirits. It also ensures that our vodka stays 100% gluten free!
For vodka lovers with gluten intolerances and Celiac Disease, do what you feel is right for your body, but don’t be afraid to venture out and try Vodka that isn’t specifically marked “Gluten Free.” Do your research on the brand and check out the ingredients - you’ll probably save a few dollars by going for the brands that don’t use the GF label!
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