Is Whiskey Vegan? Everything You Need to Know!

We have answers for all of those following a plant-based diet and wanting to understand if their favorite whiskeys are vegan!

For most of the part, yes, whiskey is vegan! Well, first of all, whiskey is the magical concoction of water, yeast, and grains. But, of course, it is not as simple as that!

So, let’s dive on and understand whiskey to the core: How is it made? In what cases it might not be vegan? And let us break down everything whiskey to understand just how vegan-friendly it is!

While we know whiskey is made of 100% plant-based ingredients, some variants may contain animal bi-products (like honey). Here we dive right into it and understand if whiskey is all that vegan!

What is Whiskey Made Of? Are They All Vegan?

Now, this depends on the type of whiskey we are talking about. A basic whiskey is all water, yeast, and grains (fermented over time, of course!). 

  1. Scotch Whisky

It is also called malt whisky. Going by the name, generally speaking, Scotch whisky is made in Scotland using barley or some other mix of grain. So, yes, Scotch whisky is vegan!

  1. Bourbon

This one is more of an American-style whiskey that uses corn. It used more than 51% corn to be technical and precise. It is generally barrel-aged. That’s why this type of whiskey as well is 100% vegan-friendly.

  1. Irish Whiskey

This type of whiskey is one of the most popular variants of whiskey globally, owing to its smooth taste and finish. It is made of a malted or unmalted mash of barley or other grains. It is distilled in pot stills and aged for at least three years. Again, this makes Irish whiskey completely vegan as well.

  1. Japanese Whisky

This whisky is gaining traction worldwide due to its superior standards of ageing and distilling. It is created similar to scotch whisky style by double malting and ageing barley in wood barrels. Thus, Japanese whisky is vegan too.

  1. Tennessee Whiskey

Again, very similar to bourbon, Tennessee whiskey is exclusive to the state of Tennessee, of course! It is a blend of 51% corn and other grains, aged in new charred oak. Again, the simplicity of ingredients gives a clear-cut indication of Tennessee whiskeys (like Jack Daniels) being completely vegan.

  1. Rye Whiskey

Another American whiskey, rye whiskey, is made from a blend of at least 51% rye with a blend of other grains (like corn and barley). A straight rye whiskey takes a minimum of two years to mature. And this makes this spicy rye whiskey vegan-friendly for your consumption.

  1. Single Malt Whiskey

The name says it all! Single malt whiskey is made from one major ingredient: malted barley. Furthermore, it also needs to be aged for more than three years. And we all know that malted barley is vegan and thus, so is single malt whiskey.

So far, so good! We have now discovered that most of the whiskeys are vegan. But there is a catch. Read on to find out.

Not All Whiskeys Are Vegan!

And there you go! Some whiskeys might not be vegan. But which whiskeys are not vegan? What animal-based products are used in some whiskeys? We discuss it all here:

Here are the things that can be exceptions to an otherwise vegan whiskey:

  • Honey-Sweetened Whiskeys (Whiskey Additives)

So, all vegans do understand that honey is not vegan. Honey is derived from beehives and thus, is out of the question for consumption when you’re on a strictly vegan diet.

So, many whiskey variants (like Tennessee honey) use honey as a sweetener to add more sweet notes to their preparations. Thus, these variants are not for consumption by people on vegan diets.

  • Cream Whiskey Liqueurs

Now, this is a clear non-vegan whiskey. Since cream (a dairy product) adds richness and flavor to these whiskey preparations, they are not vegan.

  • What is it Aged in?

This one is for the strict vegans and animal activists who also care about how their products are made. Some casks are contaminated with previous products that had animal ingredients in them.

If whiskey is made in these same casks (like ex-wine casks that might have traces of isinglass, the gelatine from fish bladders), then your whiskey might not be vegan!

So, if you are a super-strict vegan, you might also want to consider which fancy casks your favorite distiller uses.

And that’s it! Other than these specific cases, your whiskey is vegan and fit for a 100% plant-based diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re a vegan, you might want to double back everything with facts. That’s why here, in this section, we have answered the most frequently asked questions about whiskeys being vegan or not:

  • Can Vegans Consume Jack Daniels?

Absolutely! As discussed above, Jack Daniels is a Tennessee whiskey made of at least 51% corn. And as for the distillery, many reports claim that it is 100% vegan. This means it doesn’t use any animal bi-products.

  • Which Whiskeys Are Not Vegan-Friendly?

For your convenience, we have shortlisted a few whiskeys that we know are not vegan. Have a look here:

  1. Black Button Bourbon Cream
  2. Big Spring Cream Bourbon
  3. Salamanca Cream Whiskey Liquor
  4. Mississippi River Queen Bee Whiskey
  5. Jeremiah Weed Bourbon

Final Thoughts

So, we discussed if all whiskeys are vegan or not. Well, not all of them are! But for the most part, traditional whiskeys are made from water, yeast, and grains and thus, tend to be vegan.

Of course, the types of whiskeys that vegans should avoid include the ones that use honey as sweeteners, ex-wine, or ex-sherry casks that might have traces of gelatine to filter these spirits.

Finally, if you’re a regular whiskey consumer and drink traditional whiskeys, you need not worry about anything for the most part. Whiskey, in general, is vegan!

Brett White
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