Is Whiskey Good for Diabetes Patients

Reviewed By Dietitian Dt. SEEMA GOEL (Senior Dietitian, 25 Years of Experience) January 9, 2024

It’s a tiring day, it’s Friday night, it’s an old friend reunion scene, it’s an office party, etc. What do you think all these situations will have in common? Oh yes! You are thinking it right; it’ll be all bottoms up! But what’s stopping you from holding that glass of whiskey that’s beckoning from the bar shelf? Oh, we almost forgot you have diabetes. Well, is it a forbidden elixir or a potential ally for you? Buckle up as we embark on a spirited journey to unravel the whiskey-diabetes mystery. In this extensive blog, we delve into the relationship between drinking whiskey and diabetes. We examine the question: Is whiskey good for diabetes patients? We also discuss all the potential benefits and drawbacks. All this to shed light on whether this beloved spirit can be considered a friend or foe for those living with diabetes.

What is Whiskey?

Whiskey is a kind of distilled alcohol made from fermented grain mash. The grains used in whiskey production can include barley, corn, rye, and wheat. The process involves mashing the grains, fermenting the mash, distilling the liquid, and then ageing it in wooden barrels, usually made of oak.

The term “whiskey” itself is derived from the Gaelic word “uisce beatha,” meaning “water of life.” Irish monks are often credited with refining the distillation process and introducing it to the regions of Ireland and Scotland. Over the centuries, whiskey-making methods diversified across different countries, resulting in various types of whiskey, such as Scotch whisky in Scotland, bourbon in the United States, and distinctive styles in Ireland and Canada.

The ageing process contributes to the flavor and character of the whiskey. There are several whiskey variants. These include Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, bourbon, and rye whiskey, each with distinct production methods and regional characteristics.

Read More: Is Brandy Good for Diabetes Patients?

Drinking Whiskey and Diabetes

Now let’s answer the question, Is whiskey good for diabetes? The answer is yes, but conditionally. Whiskey can only be good for diabetes patients with controlled blood sugar and those who have cleared GTT (Glucose tolerance test). Moreover, even for such diabetics, whiskey benefits are gained only when whiskey is consumed in measured amounts and not regularly. According to a 2019 study published in the National Library of Medicine, moderate alcohol consumption improves cardiovascular health. Moreover, moderate whiskey consumption also lessens the chances of ischemic stroke. The Mayo Clinic stated this statement.

However, whiskey, like other alcoholic drinks, is addictive. Diabetics often cross the permissible amount of alcohol, which then starts to cause problems. Excess alcohol in a diabetes patient’s body may cause hypoglycemia.

How does alcohol cause hypoglycemia?

When you put excessive alcohol in your body, your liver starts to filter it out of the body. However, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the liver also has the function of secreting new glucose. The new glucose goes into the bloodstream and delays a low blood sugar reaction. When alcohol comes, this process gets disrupted. When alcohol breaks down, it forms substances that bar the liver from secreting new glucose. Therefore, this heavily increases the risk of hypoglycemia in diabetes patients.

Further, alcohol in excess starts acid accumulation in the bloodstream. This increases inflammation and more blood sugar fluctuations. Therefore, diabetes patients should always consult their diabetologist regarding alcohol permissible limits and frequency of drinking.

Read More: Are Grapefruits Safe for Diabetics?

Does Whiskey Have Sugar?

Most alcoholic drinks, including whiskey are prepared by the process of fermentation. Whiskey is a distilled alcohol type prepared by fermentation of different grains. The grains can be wheat, barley, rice, maize, etc. These grains are fermented in the white oak barrels for years. During this process of fermentation, all the sugar gets converted into alcohol. Therefore, whiskey technically has no sugar.

Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Diabetes?

Drinking alcoholic beverages like scotch whisky and diabetes definitely have a link. Heavy alcohol drinking on a regular basis over time, in most cases, leads to type 2 diabetes. According to Drinkaware U.K. mainly, there are three reasons behind that. Three factors that lead to diabetes are as follows:

  • Drinking alcohol regularly depletes the body’s sensitivity to insulin hormones. With this, blood sugar starts rising over time, leading to diabetes.
  • People who drink heavily end up damaging their pancreas. So, chronic pancreatitis patients may develop diabetes.
  • Drinking alcohol regularly and heavily will lead to unhealthy weight gain. This is because alcohol contains a significant amount of calories. Along with this, alcohol is often clubbed with fried fast food, which also makes you gain weight. When one becomes overweight or obese, the risk of diabetes increases.

Read More: Is Fish Good for Diabetes?

How Does Whiskey Affect Blood Sugar?

How does whiskey affect blood sugar?

Whiskey affects blood sugar differently for moderate and heavy drinkers. Whisky is good for diabetic patients only if consumed in measured amounts and occasionally. Then it has some potential benefits, which include:

Cardiovascular Health

The greatest benefit of moderate alcohol consumption is improved cardiovascular health. Diabetes patients are at an elevated risk of heart disorders. Such diabetes patients can benefit from this. Moderate alcohol drinking lessens the risks of heart attacks as well.

Prevents Kidney Damage

Drinking whiskey and diabetes patients have another link to kidney diseases. Moderate consumption of alcohol lessens the chances of kidney stones by 41%, according to the WebMD website. Drinking alcohol increases urination frequency and clears out the bladder.

Social and Psychological Aspects

Enjoying a drink in moderation can contribute to social well-being and relaxation, promoting mental health.

Diabetics should always be in constant touch with their diabetologist before incorporating whiskey into their routine. They will have to take into consideration their overall health, present sugar and HbA1c levels and specific diabetes management needs.

Read More: Best Alcohol for Diabetics

Which whisky is good for diabetes?

Which whisky is good for diabetes?

Well, comparing blended and single malt whiskeys, it is believed single malts and bourbon whiskies are better for diabetes patients. In this whiskey, ellagic acid, a polyphenol, is present, which damps inflammation, according to the WebMD website. Reducing inflammation is beneficial for diabetes patients. The best whiskey for diabetes patients in the budget can be:

  • The Glenlivet
  • Amrut Fusion Single Malt
  • Indri
  • Monkey Shoulder
  • Jack Daniel’s Bourbon, etc.

Side Effects of Whiskey for Sugar Patients

Side Effects of Whiskey for Sugar Patients

Drinking whiskey and diabetes comes with potential side effects and considerations:

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

Excessive alcohol can bring down blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia. This especially happens when you consume whiskey without food. It’s crucial for diabetics to monitor their blood sugar closely after drinking.

Interactions with Medications

Alcohol can interact with diabetes medications, potentially amplifying their effects or causing adverse reactions. Consultation with your doctor is essential in this case.

Caloric Content

Whiskey for sugar patients is calorie-dense. Drinking extra whiskey will add to surplus calories. These calories will contribute to adding extra body weight, which is a serious concern for overweight diabetics. This is because a healthy weight is crucial for managing the condition.


Alcohol is a diuretic in nature. This simply means whiskey consumption can lead to increased urine production and potential dehydration.

Impact on Liver Function

Excessive alcohol consumption can adversely affect liver function. Diabetes patients may already face an increased risk of liver-related complications. Alcohol can worsen it.

Delayed Recovery from Hypoglycemia

Alcohol can impair judgment and coordination. In the case of hypoglycemia, impaired abilities may delay or hinder the ability to treat low blood sugar effectively.

Read More: 10 Health Benefits of Drinking Beer


In conclusion, moderate consumption of whiskey may not significantly impact blood sugar levels. However, it’s crucial for diabetes patients to approach alcohol with caution. Always consult your diabetologist to assess your health conditions and ensure a safe balance. Drinking whiskey and diabetes can have a positive connection only if you follow the restraints and enjoy it as well. Remember, switching to a healthy lifestyle, including taking a balanced diet plan and doing regular workouts, remains paramount in diabetes management.

Read More: Beer or Breezer: Which Can be a Better Choice?

FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)

How much whiskey can a diabetes pateints have in a day?

According to ADA (American Diabetes Association), male diabetes patients can have up to 2 drinks, and females can have one drink. The quantity of each drink is around 1.5 ounces or 44 ml.

Is all whiskey sugar free?

Yes, whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermentation. During fermentation, all sugar converts to alcohol. Therefore, technically, whiskey has no sugar.

Can diabetics drink whiskey?

Yes, occasionally, diabetes patients can consume whiskey in the quantity prescribed by their doctor. Diabetes patients should never drink whisky heavily and regularly.

Does whisky raise blood sugar?

No, consuming alcohol like whisky does the opposite. Drinking whiskey for diabetes patient will lower their blood sugar. Excessive drinking for diabetes pateints, therefore, increases the risk of hypoglycemia.

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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