If you asked 100 drinkers to name a premium tequila brand, chances are the vast majority of them would say Patron. And there’s a good reason for that. Prior to Patron there really wasn’t a mainstream premium tequila industry in America. They created it, and they have remained at the very forefront of the category ever since; even as more and more great, high-end tequila brands have entered the market. Patron is, for all intents and purposes, synonymous with premium tequila.
It is also for that reason that I, personally, have never really felt the urge to drink Patron all that often. I’ve always been more inclined to spend my time and money exploring the smaller, lesser known brands. But, recently, Patron has injected a whole new energy into the market. They’ve brought in some really interesting products that are shaking things up and are creating excitement. Products like their Gran Patron line, which includes the ultra premium Gran Patron Piedra, a monster of a tequila that sells for about $400.
I sampled the Gran Patron Piedra at a tasting a number of months ago and thought it was truly remarkable. I had honestly never tasted anything like it. But, $400 is a tough sell. So, for me, the new Patron product line that I’ve been most excited about is Roca Patron. Although these Roca Patron tequilas look from the exterior a lot like the Patron tequila we’ve gotten to know well over the years, they are, in fact, on a completely different level.
To understand what this new line of tequila is all about, look no further than the name. Roca in Spanish means “rock,” which in this context refers to the large volcanic stone wheel that is used to crush cooked agave in what is known as the Tahona process. With Patron’s regular line of tequilas, Patron uses both the Tahona process and the Roller Mill process (a more industrial way of crushing agave) to produce the final product. With Roca, it’s all about the Tahona process, which keeps the agave fibers engaged during fermentation.
The result is a line of tequila that is completely different from anything that Patron has ever done. These are truly unique spirits; complex and full of character. One of the aspects I most like about these new Roca tequilas is that they don’t just dial it in at 40% ABV. The vast majority of tequilas on the market, mainstream or artisan, get released at 80 proof. I’ve always been dissapointed by that fact. Why aren’t more tequila’s released at higher proofs? Well, Roca has addressed that. The blanco comes in at 90 proof, reposado at 84 proof and anejo at 88 proof. Let’s hope that Patron is starting a new trend with this move.
While I thought all three of the Roca’s were excellent, my favorite of the bunch is the Roca Anejo. Here’s my take…
Review: Roca Patron Anejo
An initial burst of rich, smokey bourbon wood and oak spice sets the tone for this robust tequila. The nose is filled with barrel notes of caramel, vanilla and melon, all melding with a beautiful roasted agave. On the palate the 88 proof spirit brings a touch of heat that for me was a huge win. A lightly sweet and spicy oak entry builds on the palate as a rich roasted agave and smokey pepper brings waves of flavor. This is a fantastically satisfying tequila, complex, and full of life. Tequila drinkers will love this, and I think whiskey drinkers may find in this spirit a tequila that they can truly enjoy. At $89 retail, I think this is right on the money and an exciting new world for Patron drinkers to dig into. 93 Points.
Thanks to Patrón Spirits Company for the sample.