The standard silver version of Patron tequila has some unique and interesting aspects, but seems to fall apart with ice or in a cocktail. Today, we’re going to find out if some time in an oak barrel can help those flavors stand up a little bit better… in other words: now we’re looking at the anejo expression.
The original Patron tequila was a brand of spirits produced by the Siete Leguas distillery, owned by Don Ignacio Gonzalez Vargas. The name “7 leagues” was the name of famous Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa’s favorite horse (and reportedly the distance a horse could cover in a single day), and it was that pride in Mexican history prompted Vargas to name his distilled spirits company after this. The company owned two distilleries at the time Patron launched, the oldest of which was founded in 1952 and the second more recently in 1984.
Vargas introduced the Patron line of tequila in 1988, targeting it as a premium form of tequila. The popularity quickly took off, and the next year it was purchased by St. Maarten Spirits.
Former racecar driver Ed Brown came on board as CEO in 2000, and decided to follow the same marketing strategy that had elevated Grey Goose in the vodka segment: focusing on clean branding and other indicators of “premium” quality product, including individually numbered glass bottles. Thanks to that branding push (and some significant help from pop stars referencing the brand), demand skyrocketed and forced the company to move production away from Siete Leguas by 2002, when they could no longer keep up with the increased production schedule.
St. Maarten Spirits continued to own the brand until it was purchased in 2018 by Bacardi, the world’s largest privately owned spirits company, for a reported $5.1 billion.
Patron tequila is made from 100% blue agave plants and does not use any additives or artificial flavoring. The agave is harvested and the leaves shaved, leaving only the hard fibrous cores of the plants behind. Those cores are cooked for 70 hours in brick kilns to convert the plant material into sugar.
Once baked, the cores are crushed to release the sugar, which is then fermented in large vats. This fermentation converts the sugar into alcohol; this raw alcohol is then distilled three times to concentrate and refine the product.
For the Patron Anejo edition, the newly made white spirit is placed in a combination of French oak, Hungarian oak and used American whiskey barrels for a little over a year before being blended and shipped out the door.
(Note that the version we’re showing is a 375ml bottle, but it is identical in shape to the 750ml “standard” edition.)
The bottle is vastly different from other tequila. Instead of being a vaguely wine-bottle-shaped cylinder, this is almost a pyramid or a perfume bottle shape, with a square-ish body that gently rounds at the shoulder into a super short neck. At the top of that neck is an exaggerated flared mouth, which is capped off by a ball-shaped cork stopper.
I’ll be honest, it has a great shelf appeal but is clearly not designed for an easy pour. The short and stubby body seems to throw this off balance, and with such a short neck there’s no good way to get a grip on the bottle to give an accurate pour. There’s a reason why bartenders prefer bottles with longer necks, and this is exactly it.
As for the labeling itself, there really isn’t much — which I actually appreciate. Large labels tend to obscure the contents and, in this case, the transparent labels allow you to see what you are actually buying.
Patron uses a stylized bee as its logo, as bees are commonly found buzzing around agave plants. It’s a fun, clever nod to it’s roots — and possibly my favorite part of the packaging.
Of the aged tequila I’ve been trying lately, this is probably the lightest in color. The spirit in this bottle is roughly the color of hay or straw — more of a light honey than the darker and richer colors we’ve seen elsewhere. (Then again, many of those colors are usually artificial, so whatever.)
The difference between this and the Patron Silver offering are immediately apparent when you take a whiff. That botanical “fresh cut grass” aspect highlighted previously has now been toned down, replaced almost entirely by a more well-saturated honey sweetness. There’s a slight touch of vanilla in there as well, and the lemon citrus brings up the rear — once again, adding some much appreciated brightness.
Taking a sip, it’s immediately apparent that you’ve got a smoother, more delicious version of Patron tequila. That vanilla is really coming through in the flavor, and it’s combined with a touch of caramel to make the sweet smooth initial impression. From there, some honey sweetness and the lemon citrus join the party and brightens things up, making it almost like a stronger hot toddy; finally, there’s a good bit of herbal flavors mixed with black pepper spice to bring up the rear.
One thing that I’m missing here, though, are the herbal notes from the Silver edition. There was some interesting bay leaf and basil in there, but both have completely disappeared in this anejo version — which is especially disappointing, as I think it would have balanced well and made for a great contribution.
With the Silver edition, the ice wiped out most of the flavor. In this case, I think that’s sadly still the case – mostly. Oddly enough, the flavors that remain are the ones from the Silver edition (which didn’t hold up to ice on their own). Here, there’s the lemon citrus, the herbal agave, and the black pepper spice in there still, but all of the barrel aging effects have scurried into the background.
It’s down to “just a good tequila”… but colder.
Comparing again to the normal Silver edition (in which, I really didn’t get much flavor coming through), this anejo version has something a little more substantial to work with. The lemon citrus flavors are helping to balance with the lime in the mixer, and that black pepper spice is once again making an appearance.
The flavors of margarita mixers are very loud, and weaker tequilas can often fall short — but here, we actually get a decent performance from the tequila. It isn’t anything I would call “bold”, but it shows up at the party and mingles. It adds something for sure… but not anything substantial.
This is much better than the Silver version. The flavors are solid, if a bit boring. Some of the unique aspects we saw in the Silver edition seem to have disappeared unfortunately — but they are, at least, replaced by some standard barrel aged aspects.
The problem is that, even though this is a decent tequila, it isn’t quite “$50 a bottle” good. Following the Grey Goose model means charging more and improving the branding around the product — not necessarily improving the product itself. So this doesn’t climb out of the three-star-rating-range for me.
|Patron Anejo Tequila|
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $51.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 3/5
A bronze medal for this golden tequila.