Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gluten-Free Carolans Irish Cream Liqueur : Excellent!

Carolans Irish Cream : Gluten-Free
(picture source : their corporate website)
If you have Celiac Disease and enjoy Irish Cream liqueurs, you may want to give Carolans Irish Cream Liqueur a try.  Their website clearly states on their FAQ page [note: last checked in 2016-SEPT, and still clearly gluten-free! The following quote is from 2010, where now it simply states that the product is gluten-free]:
"Carolans is suitable for Celiacs and is both gluten and wheat free."
I have long been a fan of Bailey's Irish Cream, but I decided to try Carolans Irish Cream after my daughter tried it and thought it to be superior to Bailey's, and after I verified that Carolans Irish Cream is Gluten-Free.   I picked up a bottle at Costco' liquor store for a mere $9.99 (for a 750ml bottle in a gift-pack that included a couple glasses too).  This was certainly cheaper than the Bailey's, and I was skeptical as to whether my daughter's "review" was going to be matched by my own product review.

Taste-Test: Wonderful!  And, a Bargain!
I was delighted with the flavor of this gluten-free Irish Cream liqueur from Carolans.  I agree with my daughter: this Irish Cream is indeed better than Bailey's, at least from my perspective.  The hints of honey in the recipe, coupled with Irish spirits, whiskey, and  rich double cream yield a superior taste in the resulting subtle blend of flavors.  The honey adds a delicate overtone that complements the Irish Cream quite nicely.

Simple "Real" Egg-Nog using Carolans...
This gluten-free Irish Cream recipe as delivered by Carolans quickly led me to experiment with another drink that I have had been enjoying for the Christmas / New Years holidays: Egg Nog.  I just recently reviewed an awesome gluten-free egg nog by Organic Valley (brand), and wondered how the two products would combine (to form an alcoholic version of egg-nog).

The results were quite tasty!  I tried a couple versions of my blended Egg Nog (using Carolans gluten-free Irish Cream with that Organic Valley gluten-free egg nog), and rather enjoyed the results whether I used a 1:1 formula or a lesser-alcohol 2:1 (egg-nog : Irish Cream) formula or even as little as 4 parts nog to 1 part Irish Cream.  It was all good! :)

Sure, all this cream may not be "good for you", but it sure does taste good and it is one of those once/year seasons where I indulge (not to mention it seems to be the only time of the year I can find good egg nog at the store: I am not going to make my own).  And, I consider this a "gluten-free dessert" since it is as rich and satisfying as a dessert -- just in liquid form (and not for children).

Bottom line: my daughter was right and this Celiac-safe Irish Cream is great both on its own and mixed into other drinks (like egg nog, coffees, hot chocolate, and so forth).

Happy New Years everyone!

5 comments:

Angie Halten said...

Irish cream in eggnog...wow does that take eggnog to the next level! I just might have to break tradition and make eggnog out of season!

Angie :)

Anonymous said...

I also looked on the website for Carolan's and discovered that they claim their Irish Cream Liqueur is gluten-free. But I wonder if there's a way to verify that is true because the product contains Irish whiskey and most -- if not all -- Irish whiskeys are distilled from grains containing gluten.

The only way this would make sense to me is if the distillation process somehow removes the gluten, or takes it to a minimal level. Has anyone ever done any detailed research on this?

Mike Eberhart said...

Anonymous,
Perhaps you are new to the gluten-free/celiac scene? The general rule of thumb is that distilled alcohols are gluten-free... distillation, by its very nature and process, can not pass gluten-proteins from the source-grains into the finished alcohol. So, the only thing that could change that is if the finished alcohol-product then had gluten added (through a flavoring, accidental post-distillation-contamination, etc)... but, distillation in itself does remove gluten from the finished alcohol so long as gluten is not re-introduced, intentionally or otherwise, to the formula after distillation.

Hope that helps clarify things.

Mike Eberhart said...

Commentary on a posting someone left:

an anonymous poster left a comment about how they believed that there have been recent studies showing that some residual gluten remains after distillation (they mentioned 3ppm). To that I say: show me the studies.

The fact is, I have researched this a lot and I have searched all the scholarly/scientific articles databases and research papers and have yet to find any controlled testing that shows distillation somehow allows any gluten through the process. It would essentially defy science for such a thing to occur.

What I believe *may* be possible is that cross-contamination at processing-plants that use gluten-containing grains as the source of their distilled spirits is perhaps possible.

Now, if anyone can provide a link to a scientific study or research work that proves otherwise, please post it here. But, in the meantime, I am not propagating any notion that distilled spirits would contain gluten that somehow makes it through the distillation process: I find this simply not credible information.

Mike Eberhart said...

To Gwen, who left a comment I am not posting: it is not my intent in any way to make anyone "feel or seem stupid" in my posts. I am sorry you took my response here that stated "Perhaps you are new to the gluten-free/celiac scene?" as something more than what it was: a simple question.

There is nothing more that it is meant to be... it is a question, period. I asked it because quite often the status of alcohol (with respect to its gluten content) is covered rather early for many (adult) gluten-free folks, and I was curious as to whether the person asking was newly diagnosed. They did not respond, thus I have no idea if they were or not. I cannot embed "tone" in my posts to make you read the post as friendly and polite or as somehow hostile. It is an individual's choice how they take something. And, I never post comments on here that are anything other than informative: that would be a bit ridiculous for me, since the goal of this blog is to be *helpful* to others.

Now, back to the gluten-status of alcohols. As stated before, the general rule is that distillation removes any chance of (direct) gluten transfer from the source-grains to the finished-alcohol. Beyond that, individuals are going to have to research whether a manufacturer states that a particular product is "gluten free", and if one suffers from an extreme sensitivity to gluten, they will have to contact the manufacturer to establish exactly what criteria (like PPM gluten) were used when representing a product as "GF".

I stand by what I wrote earlier: distillation removes *direct* transfer of gluten to the finished alcohol. Accidental cross-contamination is another story, but gluten protein cannot pass through the distillation process -- it is essentially a molecular impossibility... proteins (like gluten) are not a volatile component of the fermentation process, as are alcohol, water, and esters that will be condensed into the finished product.

So, you can believe whatever you want to about distilled alcohol and whether proteins (like gluten) can make it through the distillation process directly, but I cannot lend any credence to that hypothesis on this blog. There are plenty of sources of information to back everything I am saying herein. There are all sorts of misinformation on the web that could be cited to support a position to the contrary, but I have not seen any scientifically valid proof that gluten can pass through distillation processes. As always, the choice to accept any position lies with the consumer and can be discussed with your doctor. regards. m