Is Hennessy vs cognac gluten-free?

Quick Answers

Both Hennessy and traditional cognac are gluten-free. Cognac is a type of brandy made from grapes, and Hennessy is a popular cognac brand. Since cognac and brandy are distilled from grapes, all the gluten proteins that may have been present in the original grapes are removed during the distillation process. This makes both Hennessy and other cognacs safe for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

What is Cognac?

Cognac is a variety of brandy that is produced in the Cognac region of France. It is made by distilling white wine made from Ugni Blanc grapes twice in copper pot stills. The resulting spirit is then aged in French Limousin or Tronçais oak barrels for at least 2 years before being bottled. The longer a cognac is aged, the more complex the flavors become.

Cognac is a protected designation of origin (PDO), meaning that in order to bear the name “cognac”, the spirit must be produced according to strict guidelines in the Cognac region. The soils, climate, grape varieties, distillation methods, and aging processes are all regulated to ensure quality and consistency.

Some popular cognac brands besides Hennessy include Courvoisier, Rémy Martin, and Martell. However, Hennessy has the largest market share worldwide, accounting for over 50% of total cognac sales.

Hennessy Cognac

Jas Hennessy & Co. was established in 1765, making it one of the first commercial cognac producers. The company is now owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Hennessy operates over 60 cognac cellars in Cognac, France and ages its cognacs anywhere from 2 years for VS Classics to over 50 years for Paradis Rare Cognac. Their extensive cellars have a storage capacity of over 300,000 casks.

Some of Hennessy’s most popular cognac expressions include:

  • Hennessy VS – aged 2-8 years
  • Hennessy VSOP – aged 4-15 years
  • Hennessy XO – aged 10-30 years
  • Hennessy Paradis – aged 30+ years

In addition to traditional cognacs, Hennessy also produces seasonal limited edition cognacs finished in various casks to produce unique flavor profiles.

Are Cognac and Hennessy Gluten-Free?

Yes, both cognac and Hennessy are gluten-free spirits.

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. It can cause negative health effects in people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

However, since cognac is made from distilled grapes, it does not contain any gluten. The distillation process separates the alcohol from the original grape material, including any gluten proteins that may have been present.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which regulates labeling of distilled spirits in the US, explicitly considers distilled products made from gluten-containing grains to be gluten-free due to the distillation process. Therefore, brandy and cognac can legally be labeled as gluten-free.

Major cognac brands like Hennessy clearly state their products are gluten-free on their websites and marketing materials. Hennessy confirms their cognacs are gluten-free, wheat-free, and barley-free.

Therefore, people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity do not need to worry about drinking cognac or Hennessy. However, those with wheat allergies (not related to gluten) should still exercise caution, as there is a small chance of wheat cross-contamination during production.

Materials Used in Cognac Production

To understand why cognac is gluten-free, let’s take a look at the key materials used in production:


Cognac is made from a white wine pressed from a specific grape called Ugni Blanc. Since grapes do not contain gluten, the base wine used to make cognac is gluten-free.


The yeast used to ferment the base wine also does not contain gluten.


Distillation results in the separation of alcohol from the original base wine. Any proteins from the grapes, including gluten, do not carry over into the final distilled spirit.


The oak barrels used to age cognac are also free of gluten.

So none of the main components used to produce cognac contain gluten. That’s why cognac, including popular brands like Hennessy, are considered gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease.

Cross-Contamination Risks

Although cognac does not inherently contain gluten, there is a small risk of cross-contamination during production.

Facilities that produce cognac may also process other spirits made from gluten-containing grains, like wheat, rye, or barley. So trace amounts of gluten could potentially be introduced to cognac during bottling or storage.

Those with celiac disease have varying tolerances for cross-contamination. Most can safely consume foods and drinks with less than 20ppm of gluten. Facilities producing gluten-free products are expected to implement rigorous sanitation and production controls to avoid cross-contamination at levels above 20ppm.

Major cognac brands like Hennessy take steps to avoid cross-contamination, such as:

  • Dedicated equipment for cognac production
  • Thorough cleaning procedures
  • Separate bottling and storage areas
  • Random product testing for gluten

So the risk of any significant gluten cross-contamination into brands like Hennessy is very low. However, it may still occur at trace levels, which could affect those most sensitive.

Individual Tolerances

Those with celiac disease have varying levels of sensitivity to trace gluten. Factors like age, health status, and degree of intestinal damage affect individual tolerance levels.

Most adults with celiac disease can safely consume up to 10-20mg per day of gluten. However, some are more sensitive and require a gluten-free diet with less than 5mg daily gluten intake.

Children tend to be more sensitive, with some requiring a gluten intake of less than 5mg per day after diagnosis. Their tolerance levels can improve over time as their intestines heal.

Since the exact gluten content of cognacs like Hennessy is unknown, the most sensitive individuals should exercise caution. Those highly sensitive should consider sticking to vodka or other distilled spirits made from gluten-free materials like grapes or corn.

Anyone with celiac concerns about cross-contamination of cognac should consult their doctor.

Other Gluten-Free Brandy Options

While traditional cognac brands like Hennessy are gluten-free, some people with celiac disease prefer options guaranteed produced in gluten-free facilities. Here are some good alternatives:

Craft Distilled Brandy

Many craft distilleries have popped up in recent years producing small-batch brandies. Some focus entirely on gluten-free production. These specialty gluten-free brandies are produced under more controlled conditions, often in dedicated gluten-free facilities.

Grape Brandy

Grape brandy like Pisco from South America or

Brandy Region
Pisco Peru, Chile
Dom Bosnia & Herzegovina
Slivovitz Eastern Europe

Since these are made purely from grapes, there is no risk of gluten cross-contamination from other grains.

Gluten Removed Spirits

Some distilleries use proprietary processes to remove gluten from the final distilled spirits, including vodka and whiskey. This provides extra assurance for highly sensitive individuals.

Examples include Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Koval Distillery whiskeys. The gluten is filtered out after the distillation process to below 5ppm.

Dietary Alternatives to Cognac

Those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance don’t need to avoid cognac or brandy entirely. However, some people would prefer to limit alcohol sources to those guaranteed gluten-free.

Fortunately, there are many gluten-free dietary alternatives to enjoy in place of cognac:


All wines are gluten-free, including red, white, sparkling, dessert, and fruit wines. Dry wines like Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon can provide a similar flavor profile to cognacs.


Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes that provides nutty flavors reminiscent of aged spirits like cognac or whiskey.

Brandy Alternatives

As mentioned earlier, grape brandies like Pisco or fruit brandies like apple brandy contain no gluten.


Many liqueurs are gluten-free, like coffee liqueurs, nut liqueurs, and orange liqueurs. They can be enjoyed straight up or used creatively in cocktails.

Gluten-Free Beers & Ciders

There are now many tasty gluten-free beers and ciders made from ingredients like sorghum, rice, or fruit. These can provide a fizzy, malty alternative to cognac.

Drinking Hennessy and Cognac with Celiac Disease

So can you drink Hennessy and other cognacs if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance?

In most cases, yes! Hennessy and traditional cognacs are considered gluten-free by all accounts. Major brands use production methods that avoid any significant gluten cross-contamination.

The vast majority of those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities can safely consume cognac and Hennessy in moderation with no issues.

However, individuals with the highest sensitivity to gluten may want to exercise caution or avoid cognac altogether. There is a small risk of trace gluten exposure from cross-contamination that could affect the most sensitive.

Those with celiac concerns may want to consider alternative gluten-free spirits or wines. But moderate cognac consumption is perfectly fine for anyone without very elevated gluten sensitivity.

Overall, both cognac and Hennessy can be safely enjoyed as part of a gluten-free diet in most circumstances. Those with celiac disease need not avoid these delicious gluten-free spirits!

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