Tequila 101: The Use of Additives in Tequila

Mar 2, 2022

It might surprise you to learn that many of your favorite tequila brands contain additives. Tequila companies have been doing this for years to enhance the flavor and color of their tequila. It is perfectly legal under Mexico’s regulations governing tequila production (point of note, you can be confident Inspiro Tequila is always additive-free).

Additives – especially caramel coloring or oak extracts – are most commonly found in aged tequilas to boost a tequila’s appearance. Tequila producers also use some additives, like glycerin or sugar-based syrup, to change the mouthfeel or intensify the brand’s sweetness. Those too are permitted by Mexico’s Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) and can be found in any tequila, aged or not. 

There are dozens of additives allowed (or “abocantes,” as they are known in the industry), as long as the amount added does not exceed 1% of the total volume.

What’s most interesting – and surprising – about the rules governing additives is that producers are not legally required to disclose if they use additives in their tequila. So the intense vanilla notes you might pick up when enjoying a snifter of añejo tequila may be from an artificial sweetener like neotame, which is a chemical compound 8,000 times sweeter than sugar, and you would never know.  

Tequila Matchmaker is one of the industry’s best-known and most-respected independent review and watchdog organizations. They created an innovative new program to independently confirm tequila brands as additive-free so you are no longer unaware if a sweetener or other additives are in your tequila.

Proudly, Inspiro Tequila is one of the tequilas that the experts at Tequila Matchmaker have “Confirmed Additive-Free” as part of this new initiative.

We underwent a comprehensive inspection of our distillery and analysis of our tequila production to receive that additive-free designation. A review of official CRT documentation, comparative tastings, and sensorial evaluations at each step of our Inspiro production process followed this inspection.

But that’s not the end — to maintain our “Confirmed Additive-Free” classification, we submit to an annual renewal each year to certify that nothing has changed in our process. 

Tequila Matchmaker makes a point of clarifying that they don’t necessarily think additives are “bad.” They don’t call out brands that are not additive free. Their initiative is simply a matter of transparency. 

As they explain it, “As tequila lovers, we believe that additives should be disclosed because they are creating confusion in the marketplace as to how a natural tequila really tastes. If too many people get the idea that tequila is saccharine, intensely floral, or cake-like, how will they judge the slightly sweet, subtle, and complex profiles of additive-free tequilas?”

So if you are seeking a truly clean tequila, look for the additive-free confirmation.