Does SKYY Vodka have gluten in it?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause serious health issues. As a result, these individuals must follow strict gluten-free diets and avoid foods and beverages containing gluten. Many alcoholic beverages, especially beer, contain gluten. But what about vodka? As a distilled spirit, vodka goes through a purification process that should theoretically remove gluten. However, the question still remains – does SKYY vodka contain gluten?

What is Gluten and Why is it Problematic?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains. The two main proteins in gluten are glutenin and gliadin. When flour and water are mixed together and kneaded, these proteins form elastic strands that give bread and other baked goods their chewy texture.

For most people, gluten poses no problems. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers an abnormal immune response that damages the small intestine. Even small amounts of gluten can cause issues. Symptoms of gluten intolerance may include:

  • Diarrhea, constipation, vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Skin rash
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet

Over time, the inflammation caused by gluten can damage the villi of the small intestine, which are tiny, finger-like projections that absorb nutrients from food. This can lead to symptoms of malnutrition, such as anemia, osteoporosis, weight loss, and fatigue.

The only treatment for celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity is following a strict lifelong gluten-free diet. Even small amounts of gluten from cross-contamination can trigger symptoms.

Many grains and starches naturally contain gluten. These include:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Triticale

In addition, many processed foods contain ingredients derived from gluten-containing grains. These include malt vinegar, brewer’s yeast, seitan, soy sauce, and more. Reading ingredient lists carefully and knowing hidden sources of gluten is essential when following a gluten-free diet.

With the rising popularity of gluten-free eating and awareness of celiac disease, many companies now specifically label gluten-free foods and beverages. But what about alcoholic beverages like vodka? Let’s take a closer look at how vodka is made and whether SKYY vodka is gluten-free or not.

Understanding How Vodka is Made

Vodka is a distilled spirit made from fermented grains, potatoes, or sometimes sugar beets. Traditional vodka production involves several steps:

  1. The raw material (grains, potatoes, or sugar beets) is crushed and mixed with water to make a mash.
  2. Yeast is added to the mash to convert the starch into alcohol through fermentation.
  3. The fermented mash is then distilled to purify and increase the alcohol content. Distillation involves heating the mash in a still and collecting the alcohol vapor, then condensing it back into liquid form as it cools.
  4. The distilled spirit then goes through additional filtration and treatment steps to polish and refine the final vodka.
  5. Finally, the vodka is diluted with water to reach the desired alcohol percentage, usually around 40% ABV (80 proof).

So does this distillation process remove the gluten from the original grains? Let’s look at that next.

Does Distillation Remove Gluten from Grains?

Most experts agree that the distillation process does eliminate gluten from the finished spirit because:

  • Gluten is a protein, not an alcohol, so it should not carry over in the evaporation and condensation during distillation.
  • The high temperatures used in distillation (above 140°C or 284°F) would denature and break down the gluten proteins anyway.

However, there are some important caveats to this:

  • Cross-contamination could occur during production if equipment is not properly cleaned between gluten-containing and gluten-free products.
  • Alcohol percentage, distillation method, number of repetitions, and filtration steps could potentially affect gluten removal.
  • Many spirits have coloring or flavoring added after distillation, which could introduce gluten.
  • Vodka that is distilled from potatoes or sugar beets has a lower risk of gluten than vodka made from wheat or rye.

So while the distillation process itself should remove gluten proteins, cross-contamination is still possible. Distillation does not provide a 100% guarantee that the final vodka product is gluten-free.

Is SKYY Vodka Gluten-Free?

SKYY Vodka is a vodka brand owned and produced by Campari America in the United States. It is made from American grain and distilled four times.

The frequently asked questions (FAQ) page on SKYY’s website states:

“SKYY Vodka is gluten-free. The gluten is removed during the distillation process.”

The website also explains:

“To make SKYY Vodka gluten-free, the gluten protein must be removed. The steps to remove gluten protein from grain-neutral spirits include:

  1. Milling – Gluten protein remains in large pieces from the milling process.
  2. Cooking – Heating the mash denatures the gluten protein strands.
  3. Fermentation – The gluten pieces are too large to be fermented.
  4. Distillation – The gluten proteins and peptides are removed in the distillation process.”

Based on this information provided by the manufacturer, SKYY vodka should be considered gluten-free. The quadruple distillation process they use should eliminate any traces of gluten from the grain used to make the spirit.

However, it is important to note that SKYY’s website does not claim the vodka is certified gluten-free. The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), which certifies food and beverage products as gluten-free to less than 10ppm, states:

“SKYY Vodka is NOT currently Certified Gluten-Free by GIG. According to the manufacturer, SKYY Vodka is gluten-free. GIG is attempting to obtain more detailed information from the company in order to determine if the product could qualify for certification.”

So while SKYY maintains their vodka is gluten-free, it does not appear to carry any third-party gluten-free certification at this time. Individuals with celiac disease or sensitivity should use their own judgment when deciding whether to consume.

Other Vodkas Labeled as Gluten-Free

In addition to SKYY, there are a few other vodkas that claim to be gluten-free:

  • Tito’s Handmade Vodka – Made from corn and distilled six times. Tito’s website states the vodka is gluten-free but does not contain any certification.
  • Ketel One – Made from wheat. Ketel One states their vodka is distilled to remove gluten but also lacks certification.
  • New Amsterdam – Made from corn. New Amsterdam says their vodka is gluten-free but without certification.
  • Thomopoulos Vodka – Made from potatoes. Claims to be certified gluten-free to less than 5ppm by the Gluten Intolerance Group.
  • Blue Ice Vodka – Made from potatoes. Certified gluten-free to less than 5ppm by the Gluten Intolerance Group.

So while several vodka brands advertise themselves as “gluten-free”, very few have actual third-party gluten-free certification. Individuals following gluten-free diets may want to exercise caution and check with the manufacturer if certification is important to them.

Should You Drink Non-Certified Gluten-Free Vodka If You Have Celiac Disease or Sensitivity?

This is a complex question without a definitive answer, as individuals with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity react differently to potential gluten exposure. Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to drink vodka that is not certified gluten-free:

  • Look at your own sensitivity levels – some people react strongly even to traces of gluten, while others can tolerate small amounts without issues.
  • Understand the risks associated with possible cross-contamination.
  • Be aware that companies can change their formulas, ingredients and processes without warning.
  • Consider sticking to certified gluten-free vodkas or those made from potatoes, grapes or sugar cane.
  • Drink in moderation – large quantities of alcohol may increase gut permeability and allow more gluten peptides through.
  • Combine with mixers or juices that are certified gluten-free to further dilute any traces.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are unsure about potential reactions.

Drinking non-certified vodka is ultimately a personal choice that involves weighing the enjoyment against potential adverse reactions. Those highly sensitive or struggling to control celiac disease may want to steer clear. However, some people with milder sensitivity may be able to tolerate occasional small quantities without issues. As always, listening to your own body is key.

Gluten-Free Vodka Cocktail Recipes

Here are some delicious vodka cocktail recipes that should be safe for those avoiding gluten:

Gluten-Free Moscow Mule

  • 2 oz gluten-free vodka
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 4-6 oz ginger beer
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Add vodka and lime juice into a copper mug or glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with lime. Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Blueberry Lemon Vodka Spritzer

  • 1 1/2 oz gluten-free vodka
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz blueberry syrup
  • 3-4 oz seltzer water
  • Lemon wheel and fresh blueberries for garnish

Muddle blueberries in a glass, then add vodka, lemon juice and syrup over ice. Top with seltzer, garnish and serve.

Gluten-Free Vodka Bloody Mary

  • 1 1/2 oz gluten-free vodka
  • 3 oz tomato juice
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 dashes gluten-free hot sauce
  • 1/8 tsp horseradish
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce (gluten-free)
  • Pinch celery salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • Celery stalk for garnish

Combine ingredients in a glass over ice and stir gently. Garnish with a celery stalk.

The Bottom Line

So does SKYY vodka contain gluten? While SKYY maintains their vodka is gluten-free, there is no third-party certification to confirm this. Individuals with celiac disease or sensitivity should use judgment when deciding whether to drink SKYY vodka.

The distillation process used to make vodka should remove gluten from the original grains. However, the risk of cross-contamination means trace amounts could still be present. Speak to your doctor if you are unsure about consuming vodkas labeled “gluten-free” but without certification.

Overall, those with severe gluten intolerance or celiac disease may want to stick to vodkas made from gluten-free bases like potatoes or grapes. But some people with milder sensitivities may be able to handle vodkas made from gluten grains in moderation.

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