Is Crown Royal safe for celiac?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects around 1% of the population worldwide. It causes damage to the small intestine when gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, is consumed. People with celiac disease need to follow a strict lifelong gluten-free diet to manage their symptoms and prevent further damage to their intestines.

Following a gluten-free diet can be challenging, especially when it comes to things like alcohol. Many people wonder if they can still enjoy an occasional drink without getting sick. Crown Royal whiskey is a popular brand of Canadian whisky that many people with celiac disease ask about.

What is Crown Royal Made Of?

Crown Royal is made from a blend of rye, corn, and barley mash. The mash is first distilled into a clear spirit, then aged in oak barrels for several years before being bottled. It’s the barley used in the mash that poses a potential problem for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Barley contains gluten. However, the gluten content in the final distilled spirit depends on several factors:

  • The type of barley used – malted vs unmalted
  • The mash ingredients and proportions
  • The distillation process
  • Whether the spirit ages and filters through oak barrels

So even though barley is used, Crown Royal may or may not contain significant gluten depending on these specifics in its production process.

Is Crown Royal Gluten-Free?

According to the manufacturer, Crown Royal does not make any gluten-free labeling claims. They state that their products are distilled from grains that contain gluten.

However, the distillation process removes most of the gluten from the final product. Although they don’t consider their whiskey to be gluten-free, many brands will claim to have “no detectable gluten” based on sensitive testing methods.

Gluten Testing

There are a few independent studies that have tested Crown Royal for gluten content:

  • A study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology looked at many different distilled spirits, including Crown Royal. No detectable gluten was found in Crown Royal whiskey using two different ELISA assays with sensitivity down to 5-10 parts per million.
  • iDrinkProduction tested Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye for gluten in their lab using the R5 ELISA test and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. Both tests found non-detectable levels of gluten.
  • GlutenFreeWatchDog tested four different Crown Royal whiskies using the Morinaga ELISA test and found them all to contain less than 5 parts per million of gluten.

Based on this independent testing, most batches of Crown Royal whiskeys contain extremely low levels of gluten, usually less than 5-10 ppm. However, testing has not been conducted on every product and batch.

Is Crown Royal Safe for Celiacs?

Whether Crown Royal is truly “safe” depends on the individual. The amount of gluten that can be tolerated varies widely among people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity:

  • Most can tolerate up to 10-20 ppm of gluten with no issues.
  • Some sensitive individuals react to intakes as low as 5 or 10 ppm.
  • Rare cases of extremely sensitive celiacs may react to 1 ppm or even less.

So although Crown Royal tests below 5-10 ppm of gluten, there is no guarantee it is 100% gluten-free. Those who are highly sensitive should use caution and check with their healthcare provider before consuming.

It’s also important to note that whiskey is typically consumed in small quantities. Having 1-2 standard sized drinks that contain less than 10 ppm of gluten is very different than heavily consuming a product with traces of gluten.

Other Whiskey Options

For those that are highly sensitive or uncomfortable with the small risk, there are some whiskey options labeled gluten-free:

  • Tincup Whiskey
  • Black Fox Whiskey
  • Old Forester Whiskey
  • Queen Jennie Whiskey

These brands use alternative grains like sorghum or corn instead of barley in their mash bills. However, some distilleries may have shared equipment or production areas that increase the chance of cross-contamination.

Tips for Drinking Crown Royal with Celiac Disease

Most people with celiac disease can enjoy an occasional drink of Crown Royal in moderation safely. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Have only 1-2 drinks max at one sitting.
  • Avoid drinking it excessively or on a regular basis.
  • Check the gluten testing policies of your local distillery or production batch if highly sensitive.
  • Avoid flavored Crown Royal varieties more likely to contain additives.
  • Verify your bottle was not opened and contaminated before purchasing.
  • Enjoy it straight or on the rocks to prevent cross-contamination from mixers.
  • Make sure you are otherwise following a strict gluten-free diet.

Listen to your body and stop drinking it if you have any symptoms. Be extra careful if you are newly diagnosed or have been glutened recently. Check with your doctor first if you are at all unsure about consuming it.

The Bottom Line

So is Crown Royal safe for celiac disease? Based on its production process and independent testing, Crown Royal whisky contains very low levels of gluten, if any. Most people with celiac disease can handle an occasional drink, but it’s not considered gluten-free. Those highly sensitive should use caution and opt for whiskey distilled from gluten-free grains if needed. Having just 1-2 drinks that contain traces of gluten is less concerning when consumed in isolation from a gluten-free diet. But it’s up to each individual to determine their own tolerance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drink regular Crown Royal with celiac disease?

Most people with celiac disease can tolerate an occasional drink of regular Crown Royal whiskey. Independent testing shows it contains non-detectable or very low levels of gluten (under 5-10ppm). However, it is not considered 100% gluten-free and may not be safe for highly sensitive individuals.

Does Crown Royal have gluten?

Crown Royal is distilled from barley that contains gluten. However, most types of whiskey test at less than 5-10ppm of gluten due to the distillation process. Crown Royal likely has trace amounts of gluten, but at levels considered safe by most celiac organizations.

Is Crown Royal Northern Harvest gluten free?

According to lab testing, Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye tests below 5ppm of gluten. However, no Crown Royal products are labeled as gluten-free. Northern Harvest is likely safe in moderation for most people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, but may not be suitable for highly sensitive individuals.

What whiskey is safe for celiacs?

Some whiskies labeled gluten-free that are likely safe for most celiacs include Tincup Whiskey, Black Fox Whiskey, Old Forester Whiskey, and Queen Jennie Whiskey. They use gluten-free grains instead of barley. However, check about risk of cross-contamination in production.

Is Crown Royal mashbill gluten free?

No, the mashbill used to distill Crown Royal is not gluten-free. It contains rye, corn, and barley. Barley contains gluten, so Crown Royal’s mashbill is not considered gluten-free. However, the distillation process removes most of the gluten, making the final whiskey product very low in gluten.

Does Crown Royal test for gluten?

Crown Royal does not test or label their products as gluten-free. However, independent labs have tested various Crown Royal products and found non-detectable or under 5ppm of gluten using sensitive methods. More testing is needed on each batch and variety to confirm gluten levels.

The Bottom Line

Crown Royal Canadian whisky likely contains extremely low levels of gluten, if any, based on its production process and independent lab testing. Having an occasional 1-2 drink serving is considered low risk for most people who follow a gluten-free diet. However, it is not guaranteed gluten-free. Those who are highly sensitive should exercise caution and opt for whiskey made from gluten-free grains instead when possible.

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