When you’re a bit of a distilled spirits nerd like me (is that a thing?), there are a lot of product names that you learn and which make your ears perk up when you hear them. However, very few of those names make the transition into the public consciousness (or, in this case, public ubiquitous-ness) like Patron tequila has.
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 the horse could cover in a single day). It was his pride in Mexican history that prompted Vargas to use this reference for his distilled spirits company, which owned two distilleries by the time Patron launched, the oldest of which was founded in 1952 and the second one more recently in 1984.
Vargas introduced the Patron line of tequila in 1988, positioning 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, forcing the company to move production away from Siete Leguas in 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, which is then distilled to concentrate and refine the alcohol.
For the Patron Silver edition, no additional processing takes place. This distilled spirit is placed directly into bottles and shipped to store shelves.
Just like with Grey Goose, this is all about branding and packaging. There really isn’t a huge difference between this tequila and any other unaged blanco tequila. The same plants and processes are used, creating a similar end result. The only difference between this tequila and some others is the branding, which is where most of the focus is spent. And it shows.
(Note that my version 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 evokes a pyramid or antique perfume bottle, 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 this thing is a pain to pour from. 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.
As for the labeling itself, there really isn’t much… which I kind of appreciate. Large labels tend to obscure the contents, and in this case the transparent labels allow you to see what you are actually buying, which is nice.
Patron uses a stylized bee as its logo, as bees are commonly found buzzing around agave plants… and who doesn’t love an accurate whimsical touch?
The liquid is crystal clear when you pour it into the glass, but you know pretty quickly that it’s tequila from the smell. There are some good aromas: fresh cut grass, lemon, and honey, mixed with just a touch of crushed black pepper. It’s light and sweet, with that citrus note really being the star of the show and elevating the experience.
With a sip, what I get straight away is a relatively heavy dose of herbs, which is odd for a tequila. It’s like someone snuck a bay leaf and some basil into the bottle when I wasn’t looking and it gives the spirit a bit more of an earthy tone than I was expecting. Right behind that is the usual citrus note finished with a little of that agave plant sweetness. The experience finishes with a touch of cracked black pepper spice.
There’s a little bit of a bite to the flavor, but that’s mainly from the alcohol content and doesn’t seem to be from any impurities or other issues. Overall, it’s a pretty smooth and delicious sip.
Ice is usually the enemy of any lightly flavored spirit, and that sadly continues to be the case here.
With a little bit of a colder temperature, those interesting herbal notes all but disappear and leave behind only a hint of agave and some lemon. Its certainly not offensive or inedible, but it’s not particularly tasty either.
The only good news I can find here is that any bitterness I might have seen initially has been eliminated… but at what cost?
To be completely honest, I’m not really getting anything from the tequila. I can clearly taste the Cointreau and the lime juice, but the tequila is pretty much washed out. Just like we saw when ice was added, a bit of dilution and cooler temperature from the added ice causes the flavors to retreat.
The one thing I think I might still possibly taste (which is a whole sofa worth of couching) is the black pepper spice on the end. I think that’s still in there, ever so slightly, but everything else has faded.
There’s some very interesting things going on with this tequila when taken neat. The problem is that as soon as you start using it as a mixer, it all falls apart and becomes a pretty bland spirit. It isn’t “bad” by any stretch of the imagination… but it just isn’t quite as flavorful as I’d want from something at this price point.
|Patron Silver Tequila|
Classification: Blanco Tequila
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $40.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 2/5
The Grey Goose of tequilas: they packaged a mediocre spirit in some classy trappings and charged more for it.