The vegan alcohol market is continuing to boom, with improved quality, sourcing, better labelling and branding, and even dedicated vegan alcohol brands popping up around the world, answering to the growing demand for plant-based products.
In this guide to vegan alcohol, we explain what makes alcohol vegan, as well as showcasing some of our favourite vegan wines, vegan spirits, vegan beers, and vegan ciders.
Is Alcohol Vegan?
You might think that all alcohol is inherently vegan, given that, in most cases, animals are not used to create alcohol. However, some manufacturers use animal products in the production process, or as a flavouring.
Which Types of Alcohol Are Naturally Vegan?
Almost all distilled spirits and liqueurs are naturally vegan, provided that they aren’t cream-based, or contain additions such as honey as a flavouring. Most gins and vodkas are naturally vegan, however, it’s probably best to avoid mezcal as traditional brands still add larvae to the bottle!
You’ll find that most dark spirits such as rum, whiskey, and bourbon are also vegan-friendly. What’s more, most hard seltzers contain just alcohol, sparkling water, and flavourings, so they will often be suitable for vegans.
However, not all distilled spirits and liqueurs will be suitable for vegans as production processes and added flavourings differ. Therefore, we recommend checking the label or product description prior to purchase, or contacting the seller if you’re unsure.
Why Aren’t Some Alcoholic Drinks Vegan?
There are a variety of reasons why alcoholic drinks may not be suitable for vegans but, in most cases, it’s due to the production process where animal parts (Isinglass, Gelatin) may be used for filtration and clarification, to produce a less-cloudy final product.
Further to this, non-vegan additions can also be used as flavourings or for texture purposes. Commonly used additions include honey, milk, and eggs - often used in cocktails.
Not all wines are naturally vegan, and many wouldn’t even be considered vegetarian. Whilst the product itself derives from grapes, animal-containing additives are often used in the fining process.
During this process, the fining agents stick to small impurities in the wine, making them big enough to filter out. This is a much quicker and easier clarification process used by major wine producers around the world.
However, it is not a legal requirement to list all fining agents on the bottle. allergens, eggs, and milk must be listed, but other animal derived products are often left off the label.
That being said, there is a growing market for vegan-friendly wines, and many UK sellers are now beginning to label their wines appropriately. DrinkWell offers a wide range of vegan wines from around the world. We have lister some of our favourites below:
Suitable for vegans, this lower calorie pinot grigio from Italy has a zesty citrus aroma and a slightly tart lemon and honey palate. It’s the perfect refreshment for a warm summer's day, and is a perfect pairing for light meals such as salads, fish, and chicken.
This lower calorie, vegan-friendly rose wine is the perfect Provence style wine, without the hefty price tag. Enjoy a light bodied rose with a palate of tangy berry fruits melded with satisfying spicy notes.
Discover a New World vegan shiraz from the premium vineyards of the Central Valley Delta in California. A deep red wine with alluring tasting notes of ripe blackberries and a touch of mint, this lower calorie vegan red wine is full bodied with a rich, long finish.
As with non-vegan wines, Isinglass is commonly used in cask ales to accelerate the fining and clarification process, and allows the yeast to settle to the bottom of the cask quicker.
However, with beer, fining is completely optional as it will naturally clarify itself if left undisturbed for a period of time. Whilst they may be cloudier than their refined counterparts, many modern brewers opt for natural clarification, boasting bolder flavour and a better mouth feel.
Many other beers, such as kegs, bottles, and cans are often pasteurised or filtered without the use of isinglass, making them vegan-friendly. Although, some manufacturers do still use isinglass to speed up the filtration process.
That being said , if you’re in a bar and don’t have the time to check labels, we recommend opting for bottles, rather than beers on tap. But, if you’re looking for something to enjoy at home, here a couple of our favourite vegan beers:
Suitable for people on a range of diets and lifestyles, our very own IPA is a reduced calorie, low carb, gluten-free, vegan-friendly beer. The first of its kind to be produced in the UK, DrinkWell IPA is exceptionally smooth with a healthy amount of hoppy bitterness and malty undertones.
Tennents Light lager is the latest addition to the DrinkWell portfolio after taking Scotland by storm. As the lowest calorie beer in our collection, Tennents is also gluten-free and vegan-friendly, without compromising on taste.
As we mentioned earlier, most distilled spirits are naturally vegan due to their being distilled, and not requiring filtration and clarification. Vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, bourbon, and tequila (but not mezcal!) are all vegan-friendly in their natural state, but some flavourings and carriers can contain animal products. Avoid cocktails that contain cream, milk or egg, and be careful that your chosen drink doesn’t contain honey as a sweetener.
Discover a taste of native Australia with Applewood’s sustainably sourced, vegan-friendly gin. With notes of eucalyptus, peppermint gum, desert limes, and wattle seed, this award winning gin is unique and distinctly Australian.
This vegan vodka would make the perfect gift, packaged in a pristine marble-effect bottle. 100% pure premium vodka, Mary White is extremely balanced, yet complex, and full of flavour with cereal-like tasting notes of bread dough, lemon spice, and an underlying earthy malt flavour.
West Cork Whiskey is a multi-award winning vegan whiskey produced, distilled, matured, and bottled on site in West Cork, Ireland. A blend of grain and malt, this whisky was aged for three years in bourbon casks, and further matured in heavily charred bourbon casks for a year, resulting in a perfectly balanced whiskey with notes of vanilla and a lingering sweetness.
Like with wines and beers, some ciders also go through a fining process to remove impurities and to achieve a clear finish. This is particularly true for flavoured ciders such as Kopperburg and Rekorderlig.
However, there are a lot of brands on the market these days that are vegan-friendly, and still contain that popular fruity flavour that goes down a treat on a warm summer’s day. Similarly, more traditional ciders, such as scrumpy, are naturally vegan as they’re fermented in large oak barrels and are cloudy as standard.
At DrinkWell, we stock a small selection of vegan ciders, all with reduced calories, and big, bold flavours.
There are a range of classic cocktails that are delicious and vegan-friendly, but many contain animal products - especially those that are creamy, or contain egg whites. To help you out a little, we’ve compiled a small guide to vegan and non-vegan cocktails.
When you’re out and about, we recommend avoiding cocktails with cream milk, or egg as these are obviously not vegan-friendly. Some of these include:
- White Russian
- Whiskey Sour
- Pina Colada (contains cream, although coconut cream should be used)
- Cocktails with foam often contain egg whites
- Bloody Mary (may contain Worcestershire Sauce, which is traditionally made from anchovies)
- Gold Rush, Penicillin, and Bees Knees cocktails all contain honey
Many cocktails are suitable for vegans, especially some of the more classic cocktails made from distilled spirits. These include:
- Gin Martini
- Lemon Drop
- Pimms Royal
- Mimosa (or Bucks Fizz)
- French 75
- Mai Tai
We hope this guide to vegan alcohol was helpful, and don’t forget to take a look at our wide selection of vegan alcohol from around the world. Our experts select only the best vegan wines, vegan beers, vegan spirits, and vegan ciders so that you don’t have to sacrifice your favourite drinks.
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