Is Your Tequila Additive Free? This One Is.

Have you been following a keto, Paleo or low-carb diet and wondering what the best alcoholic drink to have would be, that would not throw off your macros, spike your blood sugar or disrupt your gut biome?

If so, there’s a strong chance that you’ve heard the recommendation that the best choice is a neat tequila ( a type of mezcal) .

( I was first introduced to mezcal about nine years ago, shortly before my husband co-founded Madre Mezcal.  

Prior to that my drink of choice was always a neat, grain free vodka… until I fell in love with everything about how mezcal is made (click here for more ).   Hand crafted, a true labor of love, you can feel the energy of all that goes into crafting this beautiful, soulful drink.

All tequila are types of mezcal,  distilled beverages made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, 40 mi northwest of Guadalajara (1).

Agave is rich in a type of sugar known as agavins which research shows may act as or function like dietary fiber, meaning the body does not digest and absorb them in the same way as most sugars. As a result, agavins may not affect blood glucose or contribute calories to the diet (2).

Because of this, it would make sense that a neat tequila would be a good choice for anyone trying to manage their weight and / or blood sugar.

If that is all that is in the drink, that is.

Pure, 100% agave tequila does not have sugar in it. “As all sugar was converted into alcohol during the tequila’s crafting, there won’t be any sugar unless additives were included (3).

At first blush it may seem, then, that if you purchase your tequila of choice, pour it into a copita and sip it slowly, you’ve got the perfect drink.
If only it were that easy.

Case in point: to be classed as Tequila this has to be a minimum of 51%, meaning the other 49% can be additives and sugars (4).

And just like the confusing labeling we have with our packaged food supply system, so, too, do we need to become detectives to figure out what is in our drink of choice.

Until recently, that is! 

In 2020, “Additive-Free Alliance” was launched for brands and distilleries that want to be super transparent about their production processes and their non-use of additives. It is an opt-in program, which needs to be renewed each year (5).

They’ve got an incredible app ( ) you can use to type in any brand and check to see if it’s on the additive free list.

Whether you’re a tequila connoisseur, a bartender or simply someone who cares about what you’re putting in your body, this resource (which is exactly what we need in food, too, by the way) is an incredible tool that you can use in an instant to check if what you’re about to order is on the clean list.

Have a look at the brands you know and love and see if they’re on there; it’s quite the eye-opening exercise to scroll through the list of ‘most popular tequilas’ or ‘most expensive tequilas’ or even the ones that are endorsed by celebrities and compare to which are additive free. Suffice to say most are not.

The Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) – the organization in Mexico that regulates tequila – allows for additives in tequila as long as they don’t exceed more than 1% of the tequila’s total liquid (though additives these days have become increasingly concentrated, in order to stay under the “1% rule” (6).

1% may not sound like much, but considering that a bottle of tequila is 98% water, if the remaining 2% can be up to one half additives, we can see that it’s not that trivial.

Which means that the several hundred dollar bottle of premium tequila may contain the four categories of additives: glycerin, oak extract, caramel coloring, and sugar-based syrup.

And the label doesn’t need to show any of it.

Thinking back to that terrible hangover from drinking tequila with what’s likely new information can now be looked at in a whole new light: it may not have been the tequila after all; it could have been the additives!

Granted, drinking too much is drinking too much, but how you feel after a single, neat drink of a clean tequila is a far cry from how you’d feel if you drank a sweet margarita, but in the latter case, you knew you were drinking the sugar.

And now, thanks to this incredible resource, courtesy of the additive free alliance, you can know ahead of time what you’re about to drink when it comes to ALL the tequilas!