Over the last couple of years, the spirits and food industries have seen a major shift in consumerism as people have become aware of their food intolerances and the rise of the 'lifestyler' who wishes to be healthy.
At Downton Distillery I often field questions on what is within 'Explorer's Gin' and is it gluten, sugar, lactose and nut free? I hope this article answers those questions and provides insights to how it is a 'free-from' gin.
Rise of the Lifestyler
These lifestylers, rather than those affected by intolerances, are driving the trend towards ‘free-from’ foods and drink. It is estimated 1 in 10 consumers are making the switch to gluten and lactose free produce, whilst 97% of households now buy some form of food or drink that has been labelled as ‘free-from’.
Where once it was the specialist ‘Whole Food Market’ shops selling these items, supermarkets shelves are crammed with products proudly labelled ‘Gluten Free’ or ‘Lactose Free.’
The spirits industry has seen brands seize this marketing opportunity by labelling their spirits as ‘free-from’. Whilst the ‘low-and-no-alcohol’ category can also be seen proudly displaying labels declaring that they are gluten, vegan and lactose free thus ticking all the boxes for urban millennial.
Is Explorer’s Gin ‘free-from’?
Explorer’s Gin is ‘free from’ Gluten, Sugar, lactose and is vegan friendly.
How is it ‘free-from’ Gluten?
Most distilleries will use wheat, barley, or rye as the base of their spirit. These grains all contain gluten. The grains are mashed and then fermented before being distilled.
During fermentation, the gluten protein is broken down but not removed. It is during distillation that gluten is removed from alcohol, as the protein is non-volatile and unable to pass across in vapour form with the alcohol.
All gins including Explorer’s Gin use a neutral grain spirit (NGS) which must be 96% ABV. At this strength there is no gluten in the alcohol.
We distil our NGS with our botanicals to create Explorer’s Gin which is a London Dry, meaning nothing is added to the gin post distillation except our spring water to bring it down to bottling strength.
Do some Gins and Spirits contain Gluten?
Yes, they can, as some distilleries will add flavouring or other ingredients post distillation. Also, some facilities may process gluten-based products so cross contamination could occur. If unsure check the label or the distillery, they should quickly inform you.
How is it ‘free-from’ sugar?Sugar is a heavier particle and non-volatile, meaning it is left behind during the distillation process. Explorer’s Gin is also London Dry Gin, this style of gin by law can not have anything added to it post distillation including artificial flavourings and sugars.
Do some Gins and Spirits contain sugar?Please note that ‘flavoured’ gins and ‘old tom’ styles will have sugar added to them, a previous article discussed how much sugar was going into pink gins.
How is it ‘free-from’ Lactose?Lactose is a type of sugar found within milk. At no point in our process do we use any form of diary in our production.
There are some distilleries that use ‘Whey’ to create their NGS, but all forms of lactose are lost within the distillation process and are therefore safe to consume.
Is Explorer’s Gin Vegan Friendly?Good news, yes, it is. We do not use any non-vegan ingredients within our production. Anything unflavoured should be vegan friendly.
What Ingredients are viewed as non-vegan friendly?The following ingredients can be found within alcohol.
- Honey is often added as a sweetener (Old Toms)
- Milk and cream can be found within liqueurs to give a creamy, rich flavour (Bailey’s)
- Whey, casein, and lactose can be used as ingredients.
- Egg white protein is often used as a fining agent in wine.
- Gelatine can be used as a fining agent.
- Carmine, a red dye made from scaly insects called cochineal, is added to some alcoholic beverages for colour.