Is Absolut vodka made from wheat?

Absolut vodka is one of the most popular vodka brands in the world. It originated in Sweden in 1879 and is now sold in 126 countries worldwide. Absolut is well known for its iconic bottle and for being a high quality vodka. But one question people often have is – what is Absolut vodka made from? Is it made from wheat, potatoes, or something else? In this comprehensive article, we will examine how Absolut vodka is produced, analyze its main ingredients, and determine conclusively whether or not Absolut vodka is made from wheat.

Background on Vodka Production

To understand what Absolut vodka is made from, it helps to first understand some background on how vodka is produced in general. Vodka can be distilled from a variety of agricultural products that contain starch or sugar, including:

– Grains – such as wheat, rye, corn, barley, or sorghum
– Potatoes
– Fruits – such as grapes or apples
– Sugar crops – such as sugar beets or sugar cane

The starch or sugar in these products is converted into alcohol through fermentation. The resulting “mash” is then distilled to purify and increase the alcohol content. This final distilled spirit is vodka.

So vodka can be made from many different agricultural sources. The ingredients used depend on what is locally available and traditionally used in the vodka-producing region. For example, Russian and Polish vodkas are often distilled from potatoes. Swedish and Finnish vodkas have historically been made from grains.

Common Vodka Ingredients

Here is a breakdown of the most common base ingredients used in vodka production worldwide:

Ingredient Regions Where It’s Commonly Used
Wheat Sweden, Finland, Poland, France
Rye Poland, Russia, Finland, Lithuania
Corn USA
Barley Russia, Poland, Finland
Millet Russia
Potatoes Poland, Russia
Grapes France, Italy
Sugar beet Netherlands, France

As this table demonstrates, wheat is a very common ingredient used in vodka production in Northern and Eastern Europe. Since Absolut vodka is from Sweden, it is highly likely that it is made from wheat. But let’s analyze Absolut’s production process more closely to confirm this.

How Absolut Vodka is Made

Absolut vodka is produced in southern Sweden in the small town of Åhus located in Skåne County. The distillery is owned and operated by the famous Swedish alcohol company V&S Group (formerly known as Vin & Sprit).

Absolut’s website provides an overview of their general vodka production process. According to their description, Absolut starts with a “winter wheat grown in the rich fields of Southern Sweden.” The winter wheat is then distilled using a continuous distillation process in giant column stills.

After distillation, the clear spirit is then filtered through activated charcoal to remove impurities. This helps provide Absolut with its signature smooth, clean taste. The vodka is cut with water and bottled at 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume).

So clearly from their own description, Absolut confirms that wheat is the primary ingredient used to make their vodka.

Why Wheat?

Why does Absolut choose to make its vodka from winter wheat? Here are some of the main reasons:

  • Wheat has been the traditional grain used for vodka production in Sweden for over 500 years. Absolut is staying true to its Swedish vodka heritage by using wheat.
  • Winter wheat grows well in Sweden’s cold climate and fertile soil. Sourcing high quality wheat locally cuts down on transport costs.
  • Wheat helps lend a smooth flavor with a hint of sweetness that defines Absolut’s profile.
  • As a gluten grain, wheat contains high levels of starch that can be efficiently converted into alcohol during distillation.
  • The high starch content also results in increased yields of alcohol per bushel compared to other grains like rye or barley.

In summary, winter wheat has the right combination of flavor, local availability, and alcohol yield that makes it the ideal choice for Absolut’s distillation needs.

Other Ingredients in Absolut Vodka

Aside from wheat, the only other major ingredients found in pure Absolut vodka are water and yeast.

During the distillation process, yeast is added to convert the wheat starches into alcohol through fermentation. After distilling, water is used to dilute the vodka to the desired 80 proof before bottling.

Some flavored Absolut varieties also contain added natural flavorings, sugars, and spices to produce unique flavors like citrus, mandarin orange, or vanilla. But these flavorings are not found in original Absolut vodka.

So in its purest form, Absolut consists of just winter wheat, water, and yeast – making it an excellent choice for those avoiding gluten grains like barley or rye.

Is Absolut Gluten-Free?

Since Absolut vodka is made from wheat, this means it does contain gluten.

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and other related grains. People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity cannot consume gluten, as it will cause an immune reaction in their body.

So for those following a strict gluten-free diet for medical reasons, standard Absolut vodka unfortunately would not be safe to drink.

There are a few specialty vodka brands that are labeled gluten-free, such as Titos or Ciroc. These brands produce their vodka from alternative ingredients like corn and grapes instead of gluten grains.

But standard Absolut vodka produced from Swedish winter wheat does contain gluten proteins and is not considered gluten-free. The one exception would be Absolut’s Elyx brand, which is distilled from wheat but undergoes extra processing to remove gluten.

Nutrition Facts for Absolut Vodka

Here is the nutrition information for a standard 1.5oz (44ml) shot of Absolut vodka:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 96
Carbohydrates 0g
Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Fat 0g

Main takeaways:

  • Absolut vodka is fat free and contains no carbs, sugar, fiber or protein.
  • Almost all the calories (96 per shot) come directly from the alcohol itself.
  • The wheat grain base provides minimal nutrients after the distillation process.
  • Flavored Absolut varieties may contain added sugars and increase the calorie count.

So in terms of nutrients, pure unflavored Absolut is comparable to other low calorie spirits like gin, rum, tequila and whiskey. The main difference lies in the underlying grain ingredients used during production.

Does Absolut Vodka Contain GMOs or Additives?

Absolut strives to produce a very pure, clean-tasting Swedish vodka. According to their website, Absolut vodka contains no added sugars, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors or chemical additives of any kind.

The grain ingredients used are non-GMO. Their wheat and other grains are sourced from Swedish farmers who do not use genetically modified seeds.

The only additions to the vodka itself are water and yeast, as outlined previously. Of course in flavored varieties, natural flavorings are added after distillation for taste.

But the underlying grain base for all their vodka is free from modifications or enhancers. So drinkers wanting a vodka made from natural, non-GMO wheat-based spirits can be assured Absolut fits these criteria.

Absolut Vodka versus Other Popular Brands

How does Absolut compare against some other well-known vodka brands in terms of ingredients and production?

Here is a quick guide to what a few top brands are made from:

Grey Goose

– Made in France from French wheat.
– Also gluten-based with a similar nutrition profile to Absolut.
– Known for using 100% French ingredients.


– Made in America from corn.
– Gluten-free.
– Known as one of the pioneering mass-market vodka brands starting in the 1930s.

Ketel One

– Made in the Netherlands from wheat.
– Contains gluten.
– Uses a pot still instead of a column still during distillation.


– Made in Texas from corn.
– Gluten-free.
– Known as one of the fastest-growing vodka brands in the US.

Stolichnaya (Stoli)

– Made in Latvia from wheat and rye.
– Contains gluten.
– Uses a proprietary freeze filtration process for smoothness.


– Made in Sweden from wheat, rye, and barley.
– Contains gluten.
– Produced by the same group that owns Absolut but aimed as a more budget-friendly brand.

So while vodka can be made from various grains, potatoes or even grapes, wheat remains the most traditional choice for major vodkas from Northern Europe. Absolut is no exception, with its use of non-GMO Swedish winter wheat lending its distinctive flavor and identity.

Health Effects of Absolut Vodka

Since Absolut vodka contains 40% alcohol by volume, it provides significant calories and alcohol content in each serving. This can lead to intoxication and longer-term health effects if consumed heavily or irresponsibly.

According to the US Dietary Guidelines, moderate drinking is defined as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. One drink is equivalent to:

  • 1.5oz (44ml) shot of 80-proof distilled spirits like vodka or whiskey
  • 5oz (148ml) glass of wine with ~12% alcohol
  • 12oz (355ml) regular beer with 5% alcohol

Drinking above these moderate levels or binge drinking can increase the risks of:

  • Liver disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Digestive problems
  • Some cancers
  • Violence or accidental injury

However, moderate alcohol intake has actually been linked in many studies to some potential health benefits, including:

  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Lowered chance of diabetes
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Improved cholesterol levels

These benefits seem most significant when alcohol is consumed with food rather than on an empty stomach. Overall moderation is key.

For those with celiac disease or avoiding gluten, standard Absolut vodka would not be advised since it does contain gluten from the wheat. However the distillation process removes nearly all traces of gluten from the final spirit, leaving only minute amounts that fall under the FDA’s “gluten-free” threshold of less than 20 parts per million.

People wanting a vodka truly free of any gluten content could opt for a brand made from alternative grains like corn or grapes instead of wheat or rye.


In conclusion, after examining the production process, ingredients list, and nutrition profile, the evidence clearly shows that standard Absolut vodka is made from wheat, not potatoes.

This Swedish wheat-based vodka contains gluten and would not be considered gluten-free. However it does align with the vodka heritage of Scandinavia by using high-quality winter wheat sourced from local farms.

Drinkers looking for a gluten-free option should choose a vodka made from ingredients like corn, grapes, or sugar instead of traditional wheat or rye.

But fans of Absolut enjoy its smooth, clean Swedish wheat taste that has made it an iconic spirit worldwide. Moderation is key with any alcohol to avoid adverse health effects.

Overall Absolut delivers quality and tradition by continuing to produce its vodka from non-GMO winter wheat grown in the rich fields of Southern Sweden, just as it has since the brand’s founding over 140 years ago.

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