Is there gluten in elderflower liqueur?

Elderflower liqueur is a sweet, floral flavored liquor that is popular in cocktails and desserts. It is made by infusing elderflowers in a spirit base, along with sugar and other flavorings. Elderflower liqueur does not contain any grains or gluten ingredients. However, there is some debate around whether traces of gluten could make their way into elderflower liqueur during production.

What is elderflower liqueur?

Elderflower liqueur is a sweet, aromatic liquor made from elderflower blossoms. The flowers come from the elderberry bush (Sambucus nigra). The small, white flowers have a delicate, perfumed flavor with notes of lychee and citrus.

To make elderflower liqueur, the elderflower blossoms are macerated (soaked) in a simple syrup or spirit base. Vodka, brandy, or white wine are commonly used. Sugar and citric acid are added for sweetness and tartness. The mixture is allowed to infuse for several weeks before being filtered and bottled.

In addition to the elderflowers, elderflower liqueur may contain other botanical ingredients like lemon and orange peel, spices, herbs, and citric acid. Popular commercial brands include St. Germain, Belvoir, and Bottlegreen.

Elderflower liqueur has a sweet, floral taste. It is lower in alcohol than most liqueurs, with an ABV around 15-20%. The flavor profile makes it popular for cocktail mixing and dessert recipes.

Does elderflower liqueur contain gluten?

The core ingredients in elderflower liqueur are elderflower blossoms, sugar, alcohol, water, and citrus. None of these contain gluten. So in its basic form, elderflower liqueur should be gluten-free.

However, some debate exists around whether traces of gluten can make their way into the liqueur during production:

  • Cross-contamination from other products – Some facilities make multiple products, including those with gluten. Shared equipment could lead to cross-contact.
  • Grain alcohol – One of the most common spirit bases is a neutral grain alcohol. Distillation should remove gluten peptides, but some experts believe traces may remain.
  • Flavorings – Added flavors like spices, herbs, fruits, etc. could be a source of gluten if not verified as gluten-free.

Currently, there are no regulated standards for certifying liqueurs as gluten-free. So even if a brand doesn’t list gluten ingredients, some risk of traces exist. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should use caution with all liqueurs.

Testing elderflower liqueur for gluten

The best way to verify if a particular brand of elderflower liqueur contains gluten cross-contamination is through third-party testing:

  • ELISA testing – This lab test uses antibodies to detect the presence of gluten proteins down to 5-10 parts per million (ppm). Anything under 20 ppm is considered gluten-free.
  • Mass spectrometry – An extremely sensitive test that can detect gluten peptides down to 1-3 ppm.
  • PCR testing – Looks for the presence of gluten DNA sequences and can detect down to 9-15 ppm.

Currently, no elderflower liqueur brands publish third-party gluten testing results. So those needing to avoid gluten have to determine their own tolerance levels for potential cross-contact.

Elderflower liqueur brands stated to be gluten-free

While not confirmed through testing, these brands of elderflower liqueur state their products are gluten-free or made without gluten ingredients:

  • St. Germain – Their website states the liqueur is gluten-free.
  • Belvoir – Labels products as gluten-free.
  • Bottlegreen – Customer service says no gluten in their elderflower cordial.
  • Plymouth – Lists no gluten-containing ingredients and contacts facilities for allergen info.
  • Smirnoff – Vodka base and flavors claimed to be gluten-free.

Those with celiac disease or on a gluten-free diet for medical reasons may want to reach out to companies directly to inquire about testing policies and protocols for avoiding cross-contact.

Making your own gluten-free elderflower liqueur

For those highly sensitive, making homemade elderflower liqueur may be the safest option. This way you can control all the ingredients and the process. Here is a basic gluten-free recipe:


  • 3 cups fresh elderflower blossoms
  • 3 cups vodka or other gluten-free spirit
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced


  1. Rinse elderflowers and remove any stems or leaves.
  2. Combine elderflowers and vodka in an airtight jar. Shake or stir well.
  3. Allow to infuse for 2-3 weeks, shaking jar every few days.
  4. Make simple syrup by heating water and sugar until dissolved. Let cool.
  5. Strain elderflower vodka through a fine mesh sieve to remove solids.
  6. Combine elderflower vodka with simple syrup and lemon juice. Mix well.
  7. Bottle finished liqueur and store for 1-2 months before using.

With homemade elderflower liqueur, you can feel confident it’s 100% gluten-free. Make adjustments to ingredients and infusing times to suit your tastes.

Gluten-free brands of pre-made elderflower liqueur drinks

Some ready-to-drink elderflower beverage companies produce gluten-free options verified through testing. These can provide an allergy-friendly alternative to making your own liqueur:

Brand Products Gluten-Free Status
St. Elder Elderflower cocktails Tested at less than 5 ppm gluten
Three Spirit Elderflower liquor Tested at less than 10 ppm gluten
Templeton Tonics Elderflower elixir Tested at less than 10 ppm gluten

Drinks like these undergo rigorous testing and avoid ingredients that could contain traces of gluten. They provide a tasty way to enjoy elderflower without the hassle of making your own liqueur.

Gluten-free elderflower liqueur cocktail recipes

Elderflower liqueur shines in fun cocktails. Its floral notes pair wonderfully with fruit juices, herbs, and fizzy ingredients. Here are some delicious gluten-free cocktail ideas:

Elderflower Spritzer

  • 2 oz elderflower liqueur
  • 4 oz sparkling water or soda
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Lemon twist garnish

Combine elderflower liqueur and soda water over ice. Squeeze in lemon juice and garnish with a lemon twist.

Elderflower Gin Fizz

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz elderflower liqueur
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • Soda water
  • Lemon slice garnish

Shake gin, liqueur, lemon juice, and syrup with ice. Strain into glass over fresh ice. Top with soda water. Garnish with lemon.

Elderflower Mojito

  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1⁄2 lime, cut into wedges
  • 2 oz white rum
  • 1 oz elderflower liqueur
  • 2 oz soda water
  • Sprig of mint

Muddle mint, lime, and simple syrup in a glass. Add rum and elderflower liqueur with ice. Top with soda water. Garnish with mint.

For an alcohol-free version, substitute the rum with sparkling water or lemon-lime soda.

Is elderflower liqueur safe on a gluten-free diet?

While many brands of elderflower liqueurclaim to be gluten-free, traces from cross-contamination can still be a concern. Those with celiac disease or severe gluten sensitivity should use caution and contact companies directly for verifications on production practices.

Making your own homemade elderflower liqueur is the safest option for avoiding any exposure to gluten. There are also some pre-made elderflower drinks that undergo third-party testing for verification of gluten levels under 10-20ppm.

In general, elderflower liqueur that is distilled from gluten grains, free of flavorings with gluten, and not processed on shared equipment has a low chance of containing harmful levels of gluten. Anyone following a gluten-free diet for medical reasons should weigh the evidence carefully.

The bottom line

Elderflower liqueur does not inherently contain gluten. However, potential sources of cross-contamination may exist during production and bottling. Speak with manufacturers to assess your own level of risk. Make your own homemade version for full control over ingredients. Overall, elderflower liqueur is unlikely to contain enough traces of gluten to cause issues for most following a gluten-free diet.

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