A glass of grappa after dinner, an amaro, a fresh limoncello in summer, or a gin-based cocktail. Alcoholic beverages (always responsibly and with measure) are a pleasure, even for those suffering from celiac disease: but as in many areas of taste, those who cannot consume gluten must always keep their eyes open. "We have to make a distinction between alcoholic beverages," he explains Laura Diodovich, Project Professional AFC – AiC (Italian Celiac Association) Marche, which specifies: «it is in fact necessary to distinguish between distillates which are always good, and which do not necessarily have to bear the words "gluten free", as long as they are free of flavorings or other substances, and liqueurs. The latter are considered at risk: this means that they are only suitable if they have the wording “gluten-free” . From AiC therefore, you have a traffic light green for grappa, gin, whiskey, tequila, vodka etc., even when they come from raw materials containing gluten. How is it possible? We asked those who deal with spirits for work.
Gluten-free spirits: spirits, 100 per 100 safe
Luca Sala Trade Marketing Manager of Meregalli Spirits, a leading company in Italy in the distribution of national and international wines and spirits, explains how the gluten contained in the raw material of gin, whiskey, vodka, obtained from cereals, does not pass into the distillate because: «distillation serves precisely to separate the heavy parts from the light ones, leaving all residues as production waste. Also what is called "head and tail" or the initial and final part of distillate (where a trace could be found) is thrown away. Particular attention should be paid to Gin because some flavors are made by maceration, so they may have gluten . After all, the list of aromas that may contain gluten “is endless, but it's not just aromas that are at risk. To be sure of a gluten-free product, you should work in an aseptic laboratory, an environment that almost no one has in the distillery or liqueur factory .
More explanations about Gin come from the distillery Bunches of Altavilla: «Gin, if obtained through the distillation process, is to be considered gluten-free. In particular, Gin Mazzetti, being “London Dry”, is obtained precisely from the distillation of a macerate with traditional stills, which makes it gluten free . Absolutely sure is grappa, as the Mazzetti d'Altavilla experts demonstrate: "First of all, since it is a distillate that uses pomace as a raw material, therefore the skins and seeds (called grape seeds) of the grapes, gluten is not contained in the raw material . Secondly, the same distillation process foreseen in direct steam stills means that the final distillate, resulting from the condensation of the steam coming from the stills, cannot – even if there is a presence – acquire any trace of gluten through this processing method " .
Liquors without contamination
More complicated is the discussion with regard to liqueurs: contamination, explains Luca Sala di Meregalli, «occurs by presence in the raw material or by contamination by external agents. The same goes for the aseptic laboratory . To be sure of the absence of contamination, it is necessary to have certifications available. This is what they do in Mazzetti d’Altavilla: "our liqueurs are all consumable even by those with gluten intolerances. Not being distilled in purity, in this case the certification that the raw material does not contain gluten and does not foresee the possibility of contamination with materials containing gluten. For blended products, it would be good to indicate the gluten-free symbol on the bottle or on the packaging to ensure its consumability by those with intolerances. We are gearing up for this! " A brand or a legible wording on the label would certainly make life easier for those suffering from celiac disease, at least as regards the choice of what to drink.