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Kathleen Purvis Q&A

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Does bourbon contain gluten?

Q: One of my friends is sensitive to gluten and has eliminated it from her diet. Can she consume bourbon, particularly in holiday treats like bourbon balls?

A: Bourbon is believed to be gluten-free. There is no gluten in corn, which is the majority of the mash. While the other grains used – barley and either wheat or rye – do have gluten, it is believed that the gluten is left behind in the distillation process.

Gluten is nonvolatile, so it should not be able to become a gas and get transferred into the distillation. But that has not been verified on a molecular level.

However, a small number of people with gluten sensitivity have reported having a reaction. So it could be that a very small amount remains, or the final product may come into contact with something that contains gluten at the manufacturing facility.

Email questions about cooking and food to Kathleen Purvis at kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com.
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