Fireball Whisky is a cinnamon-flavored spirit with a spicy kick. But is Fireball gluten free?
A common sight at bars and at parties, Fireball’s bright yellow and red label is hard to miss. It bills itself as a whisky with natural cinnamon flavors. But does its formula also include gluten?
Whisky is made in part from wheat, which does contain gluten. But like other whiskies, Fireball is also a distilled alcohol. And the distillation process removes gluten proteins. So Fireball is considered gluten free.
But there’s a twist and it has to do with Fireball’s whisky-free product. Read on to find out more.
What is Fireball Cinnamon Whisky?
Fireball is made with a blend of Canadian whisky, along with cinnamon for flavor and various sweeteners. But critics argue that this popular alcoholic beverage isn’t really whisky at all.
That’s because in order to qualify as whisky, the alcohol by volume needs to be at least 40%. Fireball has 33% ABV. Plus, spirits with added flavorings and sugar, such as Fireball, are technically “liqueurs.” And others refer to it as a specialty distilled spirit.
Whatever you choose to call it, Fireball Cinnamon Whisky continues to grow in popularity. So much so that in 2021, the Sazerac Company, which makes it, released a sister product called simply “Fireball Cinnamon.”
What is Fireball Cinnamon?
Fireball Cinnamon has the same sweet flavor and cinnamon taste as the original, but half the alcohol. And it’s classified as a malt beverage instead of a hard liquor. That’s allowed the company to sell it in thousands of more locations across the United States apart from liquor stores, including grocery stores and gas stations.
Unlike its Flagship Cinnamon Whisky, the lower-alcohol variety has no whisky at all. The company describes Fireball Cinnamon as a “malt beverage with natural whisky and other flavors and caramel color.”
The wording implies the addition of whisky, but the drink actually contains whisky flavors.
In fact, the beverage is now the focus of a lawsuit against Sazerac which alleges the company misled consumers into thinking Fireball Cinnamon contained whisky.
But the distinction is important for those with Celiac disease or another gluten intolerance.
Is Fireball gluten-free?
The original Fireball Cinnamon Whisky is considered gluten free. Like other wheat-based distilled spirits, the gluten is removed during the distillation process. And the manufacturer claims no gluten-containing ingredients are added after distillation.
However, some argue that trace amounts of gluten can still make it into the final product, making alcoholic drinks like distilled whiskey off-limits for those with severe gluten sensitivities. So this is something you may want to consider if you have gluten allergies or a gluten intolerance.
While Fireball whisky can be deemed gluten free, Fireball Cinnamon is not. Its maker describes it as a malt-based beverage. And malt beverages are derived from gluten-containing grains, specifically barley.
So Fireball Cinnamon is not compatible with a gluten-free diet.
How to tell the different types of Fireball apart
Both Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and Fireball Cinnamon are similar in taste and packaging, so in order to tell these alcoholic beverages apart, you need to look at the label closely.
The original whisky-based drink will say “Cinnamon Whisky” on the front. The malt-based beverage will simply read “Cinnamon.”
It’s a minor distinction, but an important one if you have a gluten sensitivity and may not be able to tolerate malt beverages.
A bottle of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky has an ABV of 33%. Fireball Cinnamon malt-based beverage has 16.5% alcohol.
Propylene glycol (PG) is a food additive and preservative once used in Fireball. It is also an ingredient in antifreeze, leading to rumors that Fireball contained antifreeze in its formula. Though that isn’t true, Fireball states that all products now sold worldwide are free of PG.
The company that makes Fireball says it does contain real cinnamon to produce the unique flavor in its whisky-based drink. Though it keeps the rest of its formula secret.
Fireball Cinnamon Whisky is spelled without an “e”. Fireball uses Canadian whisky in its recipe, and in Canada, the spelling of the word whisky does not include an “e”.
More gluten-related answers
Find out whether other popular foods and beverages contain gluten. Check out these posts.
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