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Over the past fifteen or twenty years, more attention has been paid to gluten than almost any other ingredient. You may wonder why that’s the case and why so many people try to avoid gluten in their diet. Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley and acts as a binder, holding foods together, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. 

Generally, those who stay away from gluten do so to avoid stomach pains, weight gain or to adhere to a gluten sensitivity or allergy … And when it comes to rum, one of the most common questions folks have is does rum have gluten in it? 

So, to answer this commonly asked question: Rum is gluten-free and that is largely because of its distilling process. Rum is primarily made from sugarcane juice or molasses, and doesn’t contain elements of barley, rye or wheat in its pure form. With that, however, it’s always important to look at what other mixers or ingredients make it into your cocktail before determining whether the beverage itself is gluten-free. 

To understand why and how rum is gluten-free we must first understand how rum is made.

DISTILLATION PROCESS AND GLUTEN REMOVAL

The fermentation tanks at Montanya Distillers.

IMAGE SOURCE: https://www.montanyarum.com/blog/2019/5/17/the-rum-distillation-process#:~:text=The%20Distillation%20Process%3A%20Specifics&text=Once%20the%20wash%20has%20been,of%20the%20still%20as%20rum

As mentioned, most rums are made from sugarcane or molasses and when those ingredients reach maturity, they go through the process of distillation, which means they are heated and cooled to create a pure form liquid. 

  • During the distillation process, gluten-containing grains such as rye or barley are removed, creating a gluten-free liquor, according to University of Chicago Medicine.
  • Other liquors that are gluten-free in their pure form include whiskey, gin and tequila … but again, it’s important to note that we are only talking about these liquors in their pure form. 
  • Any chasers or additives should be checked for gluten as well. 

Clarifying Common Misconceptions

While most people understand that distilling a spirit removed any elements of gluten from it, it’s paramount to look at and assess the overall purity of the product. Flavorings, mixers and food coloring are all factors that can add gluten back into the product. 

Spiced rums are one example to look out for, according to MontanyaRum.com. Furthermore, a spirit maker isn’t required to report ingredients that make up less than 2 percent of the bottle. Again, this would be something to look out for when it comes to spiced or flavored spirits, but white or dark rums in their pure forms are generally fine. 

Rum Ingredients & Gluten Content

To put it simply, rum is made from sugar cane. Most rums use molasses, the residue that remains after sugar has been crystalized from sugarcane juice. There are variants and offshoots of sugar cane that specific types of rums might call for like cane syrup, cane sugar, raw cane juice or evaporated cane sugar but it’s important to note that distilled rum derives from sugar cane.

By nature, these products don’t contain gluten but to reiterate – certain flavorings or spices added after distillation will determine whether a rum is gluten-free or not.  

For rum lovers who have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, it’s important to look out for certified gluten-free rums. Luckily, there are many rum brands that provide this option and double-checking the ingredient label on the bottle will clarify it all for you! 

GLUTEN-FREE RUM BRANDS

Bacardi Rum 

Bacardi Rum offers many gluten-free options (with the exception of their Bacardi silver, which is a malt-based option) and is one of the oldest and most well-known rum brands available to consumers. Founded in 1862 by Facundo Bacardi Massó, this originally Cuban brand is now served in more than 200 countries worldwide. 

Aside from their silver option, Bacardi proudly offers many gluten-free liquors as it doesn’t distill or ferment with any grain, barley or rye. These including flavored rums, Bacardi Gold and a handful of premade cocktails. 

Bacardi Gold Rum - 750ml Bottle, 1 of 8PHOTO LINK

 

WEBSITE LINK: https://www.bacardi.com/us/en/ 

 

Ten To One Rum 

 

Ten To One’s gluten-free white rum and dark rum offer unique tasting notes with blends from Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Trinidad. Both the white and dark rum options offered contain no added sugar, coloring or flavoring and are, of course, completely gluten-free. Founded in 2019 by Marc Farrell and later joined by co-owner and investor Ciara, Ten To One celebrates the vibrances and diversity of Caribbean flavor and culture. 

 

Ten To One’s dark rum is distilled in old bourbon bottles while its white rum is distilled in a column still before being blended with high-ester Jamaican pot still rum, creating a unique and light flavor and avoiding cross contamination that could potentially add gluten into the mix. 

PHOTO LINK: https://images.app.goo.gl/UtfgcooLrQt6D8hd8 

WEBSITE LINK: https://www.tentoonerum.com/ 

 

Montanya Rum

This female-founded and owned rum company is unique in that it is actually distilled and aged in America! Founder Karen Hoskin says most people are surprised to learn that Montaya rum is actually produced in the American Rocky Mountains, but the mild temperatures and clean water make it conducive to rum production. 

 

Montanya rum contains three ingredients: yeast, mountain snow-melt water and American non-GMO sugarcane grown by family farmers in Louisiana. Their recipes contain no artificial sugars or flavors and are completely gluten-free according to Celiac.com

PHOTO LINK: https://images.app.goo.gl/N1otnP8m46S2e9nw9

WEBSITE: https://www.montanyarum.com/ 

CROSS CONTAMINATION RISKS

When white, dark or aged rum is distilled, it should not theoretically contain any gluten elements. This is because distillation removes gluten because it doesn’t vaporize. However, when rum is flavored there’s a possibility that gluten will be added after distillation. It’s important to check labels and read the ingredient list carefully, especially when you are looking at flavored rum or a pre-packaged cocktail. 

TAKEAWAY

Many bottles will include a “gluten-free” label on its bottle and if it doesn’t, be sure to scour the ingredient label on the back to triple check. It’s also important to be mindful of the cocktails you order and not assume that just because the cocktail contains a rum base that it will be gluten-free. 

So, before you get ready for your next soiree or night out remember the following: 

  • White or dark rum is derived from sugarcane and goes through a process called distillation that removes any gluten from the mix 
  • Many brands offer gluten-free rum options but the rules may not apply to flavored rums so always be sure to read the labels thoroughly and properly 
  • While most white or dark rums are gluten-free by nature, it’s important to get clarity on cocktails before enjoying them

Gluten intake is an understandable concern for so many but luckily white or dark rum in its pure forms are generally conducive to those trying to avoid gluten. Maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle while enjoying rum is entirely achievable so raise a glass … and rest assured!  

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