Gluten-Free Spirits: The Healthy Way to Booze

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For decades, Americans have eaten foods saturated with mystery chemicals, additives and other potentially harmful ingredients. There’s little information on the lasting effects of many dyes, sugar substitutes and flavor enhancers. Many Americans are striving to cut out potentially dangerous components from their food in order to live a healthier lifestyle.

This includes gluten. Many people, even those without intolerance to gluten, are cutting down on gluten intake whenever possible. For many individuals, the advantages and benefits of a gluten-free diet translate to better health. “However, people with Celiac disease and/or allergies find the benefits of a gluten-free diet to be life sustaining,” says Marco Destefanis, co-founder of gluten-free Hiro Sake.

Gluten-free products lack gluten in the protein, which is normally found in wheat and barley. This is why a gluten-free diet is closely related to a wheat free diet. “Some gluten-free ingredients include rice, millet and quinoa. Products made with rice, millet, and quinoa are very popular as substitutes for wheat and barley based products.”

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Some Gluten-Free meal prep ingredients

For people struggling with inflammatory diseases and autoimmune disorders, gluten-free has proven to be beneficial. “The gluten in grain is not recognized by the immune system, so it attacks the intestines and can cause severe damage,” says Destefanis. People who don’t know that they have sensitivity to gluten can end up causing permanent damage to their body while suffering from nutrient loss due to their digestive systems not absorbing nutrients properly. “Hiro Sake is naturally gluten-free because it’s made from rice and with not added alcohol.”

The advantages of gluten-free include a reduction in some of these symptoms and an healthier life. “People who go gluten-free also report an increase in energy,” says Destefanis.

Recently, being gluten-free has become part of a healthy lifestyle for many people. “Gluten-free, along with cutting carbohydrates, and eating more vegetables and fruit, help some people lose weight.”

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Many spirits on the market are listed as gluten-free. There’s some debate as to whether or not all vodka is gluten-free. “Our vodka is gluten-free because it is distilled from Corn and is distilled ten times in a column still to remove any impurities,” says Brandon Cason, Vice President of Marketing for Deep Eddy Vodka. He can’t speak for all vodka being gluten-free since it’s not possible to know how all products are made and from what. “That said, we’re proud of our gluten-free liquid because consumers look for assurance and it’s important that we make it known clearly.”

Contrary to some marketing spin, wheat and rye-based Vodka’s are not gluten-free. “Potato-based vodkas, grape based vodkas and corn-based vodka’s are gluten-free, however, only the original flavor,” says Devotion Vodka COO Michael Calleja.

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Devotions flavoring process has been substantiated at the highest level, as the vodka received a strong endorsement from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), in being named the only vodka brand permitted to print both “Gluten-Free” and “No Added Sugar” on the bottle. “This labeling is vital in providing us with a competitive marketing advantage, because as more specialty products become available, consumers are becoming well-versed in studying the fine print on the packaging to confirm all ingredients adhere to dietary restrictions,” says Calleja.

The benefits of a gluten-free lifestyle are still subject to much debate. “However, no matter what your dietary constraints, we are proudly handcrafted in small batches at our Texas distillery using only premium ingredients like real ruby red grapefruits, real lemons, real cranberries and whole tea leaves.”

According to market research firm Mintel, the gluten-free market is expected to exceed $15 billion in sales by 2016. “While Devotion certainly does not promote any health benefits of alcohol, our intention was to provide a better alternative brand, geared toward image-conscious men and women who live active lifestyles.”

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Devotion and other spirits producers make no claims of guaranteed health benefits, but based on the continued growth and popularity of gluten-free diets, Calleja and others continue to hear that for those individuals diagnosed with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, a gluten-free diet is essential for their lifestyle demands. “Thus, we remain committed to offering an alternative for those adult consumers that like to indulge from time to time, but are more conscious of ingredients and/or must adhere to dietary restrictions.”

From the beginning, the makers of Devotion realized that they needed to make strategic partnerships with other well-respected companies. The main priority was finding a flavoring company that wouldn’t use unnecessary additives and chemicals to flavor their vodka. Devotion partnered with Allen Flavors – maker of Arizona Iced Tea and a leading privately owned flavor company – to develop a process of eliminating sugars as a flavoring agent in vodka. “In lieu of sugar, a proprietary essence process is used for Devotion, along with natural flavor compounds, to ensure the brand’s flavored vodkas are created without the unnecessary sugars that other mass-produced vodkas use.”

Calleja stresses the fact that, technically, vodka can be produced from any starch or sugar rich matter. “Most vodka, in fact, is made from a combination of mixed grains, wheat, potatoes or corn.” The major role gluten plays in vodka is the source from which it originates. “If you come from 85% Corn and 15% mixed grains you are not 100% Gluten-Free. In contrast, Devotion Spirits uses only 100% Corn, leaving no room for mixed grains or wheat as some of our competitors do.”

Regardless of which brand you choose to imbibe, taking a long look at the label is key to knowing what you are putting into your body. Spend some time reading up on what chemicals and additives your favorite spirit contains. If you need a bottle of booze to carry on your path to healthy living, maybe you should find one that is gluten-free.