Is nastoyka gluten free?

Is nastoyka gluten free?

Nastoyka (настоя́ть), also referred to as nastoika and nastojka in Russian, nastoyanka (настоянка) in Ukrainian, or nalewka in Polish, is an alcoholic tincture. These infusions are made by adding sugar, herbs, spices, or fruits to an alcohol base. The resulting tincture is usually around 40-45% alcohol by volume, but can be much higher. The liqueur is used for both medicinal and recreational drinking purposes. Nastoyka has been incredibly popular across the Slavic region for hundreds of years, and has experienced a resurgence in popularity within the last decade.

Nastoyka is nearly always gluten free, but it’s best to double-check which ingredients were used to make the tincture. One exception that does contain gluten is porterwówka, a type of nalewka made with porter beer.


Wintry herbal liqueur from Washington Post

Nastoyka Ingredients

The base for nastoyka can be any strong alcohol, but is usually vodka or brandy. In Russia, the base spirit used to be Polugar, an old style Russian alcohol. Polugar’s production has since been outlawed in Russia, so vodka is used instead now.

Polugar is distilled with a pot still rather than a column still, which means it’s less filtered than something like vodka. Most Celiac organizations confirm that all distilled products are gluten free, regardless of the grains used. Because polugar is distilled with a slightly different method, please consume it at your own risk. Polugar is quite difficult to find these days, so it’s highly unlikely that any storebought or Russian-made nastoyka would contain it anyway.

In Ukraine, Horilka is often used as the base of nastoyanka. This is sometimes home-distilled and would be called samohon in that case. Samohon is a riskier bet for gluten free folks, because the distiller may not be concerned with gluten cross-contamination when making the spirit.

Polish nalewka usually uses vodka or another neutral base spirit.

Many different herbs, fruits, and spices are used to flavor nastoyka. The infusions were classically based on folk medicine and were combined with specific ailment-curing aims. Nowadays, common ingredients include lemon peel, ginger, black pepper, juniper, spruce tips, horseradish, dill, anise, wormwood, black current, nuts, and local blossoms and herbs.

Nastoyka Recipes

There are many classic nastoyka recipes that can be followed, or you can choose your own adventure and infuse with the ingredients you already have on hand!


Rosemary liqueur from Sauce Magazine


Ginger liqueur from Serious Eats

* Title image courtesy of Epicure and Culture.

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