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!


Angie Halten said...

Irish cream in 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...

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

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,
I have a degree in chemistry, have performed distillation, and have a good understanding of the processing used in the creation of these products. Additionally, my father-in-law worked in organic chemistry for a pharmaceutical company as a lead chemist, and we agree wholeheartedly that the distillation process does not remove all gluten from the original batch. Several simple statements should help everyone to understand the imperfect nature of the claim that gluten is not in the product because it has been distilled.
Firstly, distillation is not a perfect process. 190 proof grain alcohol is an excellent example of this fact. Carryover is why companies make multiple runs to further purify their product.
Second, all distilled products would taste exactly the same if distillation was pure and no additives were introduced into the final product.
Thirdly, bumping and foaming during bulk distillation is virtually impossible to eliminate. This is when the batch being boiled, to create the vapor being collected, splashes or bubbles up the sides which allows it into the collection container.
Lastly, the claims that distillation removes all gluten comes from the manufacturer that is attempting to sell their product to the public while refusing to place a GF label on their product.
Hopefully you will post this reply so that individuals can perform their own due diligence in taking care of their health.
Sincerely, Pete

Unknown said...

Would you think the remaining gluten would be low (say, less than 5 ppm)? Or could it be 10-20 ppm?

Isla Q. said...

Hi all, I just discovered this page. I’ve been GF for the last 15 years due to celiac disease. The old rule of thumb use to any triple distilled alcohol was safe to drink. I’m not a chemist, nor do I have any type of science degree, but after a few minor mishaps over the years, I tend to stick the the rule of 3. I also think it depends on how gluten sensitive you are, and I believe that in certain points in time, you can be more sensitive than others. I’m not suggesting going out and eating a loaf of bread, I just mean that I personally could have a once distilled alcohol versus 3; and there were plenty of times when I couldn’t drink alcohol altogether.

My recommendation would be to try a little, wait, and see how you react.

I hope that I didn’t step on any toes... just my 2 cents. :-)