Is Skyy vodka celiac safe?

For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, determining whether an alcoholic beverage like vodka is safe can be tricky. With so many different brands on the market, it’s important to understand how vodka is made and identify which brands contain no traces of gluten.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, their immune system attacks the small intestine, damaging the villi which are small finger-like projections that line the intestine. Villi are responsible for absorbing nutrients from food. When they are damaged, nutrients cannot be properly absorbed, leading to symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, and fatigue.

Celiac disease impacts about 1% of the population worldwide. It is a genetic disorder and cannot be cured, however symptoms can be managed through a strict lifelong gluten-free diet. Even small traces of gluten from cross-contamination can trigger symptoms, so it’s important for those with celiac to be vigilant about only consuming certified gluten-free foods and beverages.

What is gluten and where is it found?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and other closely related grain species. The two specific gluten proteins that cause issues for those with celiac are gliadin and glutenin. Trace amounts as small as 20 parts per million can cause issues for most with celiac when ingested regularly.

Here are some common food sources that contain gluten:

  • Bread, pasta, baked goods made with wheat, barley or rye
  • Malt vinegar
  • Beer
  • Soy sauce
  • Salad dressings and sauces thickened with wheat flour
  • Foods dusted with flour for coating
  • Oats (unless certified gluten-free)

In addition to avoiding obvious sources of gluten, those with celiac disease have to pay close attention to cross-contamination which can occur during food manufacturing and preparation. Shared equipment, facilities and ingredients can introduce small traces of gluten into foods and beverages not normally containing gluten.

Is vodka naturally gluten-free?

Vodka starts out as a gluten-free spirit. Traditional vodka is distilled from ingredients like potatoes, corn, wheat or rye. Some vodkas are also made from grapes, sugar cane, or other gluten-free grains.

Distillation is a process that involves heating the raw ingredients in a mash and collecting the alcohol vapors. Those vapors are then condensed back into a liquid high-proof spirit. In theory, the chemical process of distillation should remove gluten proteins from the final distilled spirit. However, in reality traces of gluten can still make their way into vodkas distilled from gluten-containing grains.

So while the distillation process itself produces a gluten-free end product, vodka made from wheat or rye does carry some risk of gluten cross-contamination. Gluten could make its way into the final spirit if the equipment and facility are not properly cleaned between batches.

Vodkas made from non-gluten containing ingredients like potatoes or grapes are inherently gluten-free and not subject to this same risk. So tl;dr – vodka can be gluten-free, but vodkas specifically made from wheat/rye require verification that they are distilled and handled carefully to avoid cross-contamination.

Is Skyy vodka gluten-free?

Skyy vodka is made from wheat, so it is not inherently gluten-free. However, the brand states their vodka goes through a rigorous distillation process that removes all traces of gluten from the final product. They also claim to adhere to strict standards to avoid cross-contamination with allergens.

Here is the response from Skyy about their gluten-free status from their FAQ page:

SKYY Vodka is gluten-free. The gluten is removed during the distillation process and the mash is distilled twice to produce vodka containing 40% alcohol. The gluten content in the finished liquid is below the 20ppm detectable limit. Although our vodka is derived from wheat, the distillation process removes the gluten. As a result, we consider SKYY Vodka to be gluten-free.

So according to the manufacturer, Skyy has gluten levels under 20ppm and has procedures in place during production to prevent cross-contamination. However, those who are highly sensitive should exercise caution and check with their doctor before consuming.

Testing of Skyy vodka

There have been a few independent studies performed testing the gluten content of various vodka brands, including Skyy:

  • A study from the University of Nebraska tested 22 different vodka brands and found Skyy to contain less than 5ppm of gluten. This is considered gluten-free by US FDA standards.
  • A study by tested Skyy at 3ppm of gluten, also safely under the 20ppm cutoff.
  • independently tested Skyy Red, Citrus and regular Skyy and found less than 20ppm of gluten.

So these third-party test results validate Skyy’s own claims and suggest their vodka contains very low levels of gluten not likely to cause issues for anyone except those with extreme sensitivities.

Is Skyy vodka certified gluten-free?

No, Skyy vodka does not currently have any official gluten-free certification through an organization like the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). They self-declare their vodka as gluten-free based on internal procedures and testing methods.

Are there any 100% gluten-free vodka options?

For those wanting to eliminate any risk, there are a number of distilled spirit brands made from gluten-free source materials like potatoes, corn, grapes or sugar cane. Here are some 100% gluten-free vodka options:

  • Tito’s – made from corn
  • Ciroc – made from grapes
  • Ketel One – made from wheat and distilled in a gluten-free facility
  • Absolut – made from wheat and distilled in a gluten-free facility
  • Prairie Organic – made from corn and certified gluten-free
  • Deep Eddy – made from corn

There are also newer craft vodka distilleries popping up that cater to the gluten-free market. Many of these use alternative base ingredients like sorghum, potatoes and grapes. Here are a few to look out for:

  • New Amsterdam – certified gluten-free
  • Cupcake – distilled 6x from corn, certified GF
  • Naked Grape – made from grapes
  • Sobieski – made from rye but GF certified
  • Chopin – made from potatoes

Be sure to check the brand website for any gluten-free labeling or certifications if you want to be 100% sure of the vodka’s status.

Tips for choosing safe vodka with celiac disease

If you want to enjoy vodka but need to stay diligently gluten-free, follow these tips when making your purchasing choices:

  • Look for vodkas distilled from grapes, potatoes, sugar cane or corn.
  • Opt for brands with official GFCO certification.
  • Check the brand website under allergen or FAQ sections for gluten-free info.
  • Call or email the manufacturer directly if no gluten info is available.
  • Search for credible gluten lab test results for the brand.
  • Stick to vodka in its pure form. Flavored vodka may have added ingredients that contain gluten.
  • Check liquor store shelves for dedicated gluten-free sections.

Those with celiac disease know checking labels and researching items ahead of time is key to maintaining their health. While it takes some extra sleuthing, there are definitely still gluten-free vodka options to be enjoyed in moderation.

Is vodka processed at facilities with allergens?

In addition to the vodka itself containing gluten, those with allergies also have to consider potential cross-contamination during processing and bottling. Allergy warnings are sometimes included on vodka bottles indicating other allergens like wheat, dairy or nuts could be present in the facility where the vodka was produced and packaged.

Some brands explicitly state on their website or in customer service communications that vodka is bottled in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Tito’s, for example, says their facilities only process corn-based spirits. Others like Ketel One have separate equipment and rooms for handling gluten-containing spirits versus gluten-free.

Without explicit documentation of allergen handling procedures, it’s impossible to be 100% sure about cross-contamination. Those highly sensitive should contact the manufacturer directly to understand their facility procedures before consuming.

Should vodka be rinsed before drinking?

Some sources recommend rinsing or washing vodka glasses with some of the spirit before pouring your full serving as a way to remove traces of gluten from surfaces. This likely comes from a time when vodka glasses were rinsed or “loaded” with a non-GF whiskey or bourbon containing gluten before being refilled with vodka. The idea was a little whiskey or bourbon would flavor the vodka.

These days most bars and restaurants are conscious about allergens and use separate glassware for GF spirits. At home as well, you likely won’t be washing your glass with beer or bourbon before using it for vodka.

While it can’t hurt to rinse your glass with a splash of vodka first if you want to be extra cautious, in most cases this step is unnecessary and the small amount of liquid will be diluted and incorporated into your full pour anyway.

Does vodka contain sulfites?

Sulfites are preservatives used in some wines and dried fruits that can trigger severe allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Sulfites may also worsen asthma symptoms.

Pure distilled spirits like vodka do not contain added sulfites. In the distillation process, sulfites present from raw grains are removed from the final liquor product. Any residual amounts would be at parts per million trace levels.

The exception would be for any flavored vodkas or prepared vodka cocktails, which could potentially include additives or ingredients containing sulfites. As long as you stick to plain vodka, you can consider it sulfite-free. Those with sulfite allergies should check labels for any added ingredients in flavored vodkas.

Is vodka gluten-free? Conclusion

In summary:

  • Vodka made from non-gluten grains like corn, potatoes and grapes is inherently gluten-free.
  • Vodka made from wheat or rye can still be considered gluten-free if distilled and handled properly to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Independent lab testing confirms Skyy vodka contains very low gluten levels under 20ppm.
  • Skyy vodka is not certified gluten-free but considered safe based on their protocols.
  • 100% gluten-free vodka options include brands like Tito’s, Deep Eddy and Ciroc.
  • Facility procedures and allergen warnings should be considered for those highly sensitive.
  • Flavored vodka may contain added ingredients with gluten.

Those with celiac disease or on a gluten-free diet can still enjoy vodka in moderation. Just be diligent in researching brands and understanding their production processes to find a gluten-free option that fits your needs and comfort level.

Leave a Comment