Relatives, Whisky, Giving Blood and Spelt

Coeliac Association Malta

All those who suffer from coeliac disease may have questions on a number of issues. Here we concentrate on whether relatives of coeliacs should also be checked out, whisky, giving blood and spelt.

First-degree relatives (parents, siblings or children) of people with coeliac disease

Coeliac disease does run in families but not in a predictable way. 1 in 10 close relatives of people with coeliac disease will have the condition but this means that there is a 90% chance that a family member will not be affected.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline on the recognition, assessment and management of coeliac disease recommends that first-degree relatives (parents, siblings or children) of people with coeliac disease are offered an antibody blood test for the condition as they are at higher risk of having coeliac disease.

If you are concerned about a family member we recommend that they contact their GP for further investigation.


We’re often asked whether whisky is suitable for a gluten free diet. All spirits, sherry, port, and liqueurs are gluten free. Even when a cereal that contains gluten is used as an ingredient, all spirits are distilled during the manufacturing process, removing any trace of gluten. Therefore, all spirit drinks (including malt whisky, which is made from barley) are safe for people with coeliac disease.

On the other hand, beer, lagers, stouts and ales contain varying amounts of gluten and are not suitable for a gluten free diet although, nowadays, there are a number of specially manufactured gluten free beers, lagers and ales.

Giving blood

There’s no reason not to give blood if you have coeliac disease.

Before you donate, the Malta Blood Bank will ensure that it’s safe for you to do so and the iron levels in your blood will be tested.


Spelt is not gluten free. It is an ancient strain of wheat and contains gluten so it’s not suitable for a gluten free diet.