In any language, across every corner of the globe, PATRÓN is synonymous with premium tequila. Its iconic cork-topped bottles are instantly recognized behind bars from Guadalajara to Guam. Because the liquid feels at home just about anywhere, it’s easy to overlook its actual birthplace in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. Yet this very landscape — mountainous and mystical — lends PATRÓN its ineffable allure.
It is here where you will find Hacienda PATRÓN: a living, breathing ode to agave, stewarded by the growers and distillers who have dedicated their professional lives to the pursuit of perfect tequila. A look inside The Hacienda reveals a better understanding of what ends up inside the glass.
Rising gracefully from the high desert of Atotonilco El Alto, the brand’s spiritual home assumes the shape of a rose-tinged Spanish colonial palace. The sprawling 100-acre property exudes the look and feel of an executive statehouse. But the only royalty in residence here is the tequila rolling off the sterling stills hidden within.
This is a working distillery unlike any other. It employs hundreds of Jaliscan natives, and together they’re crafting over 2.5 million cases of tequila per year. That’s enough liquid to land PATRÓN recognition as the world’s top-selling purveyor of premium tequila, a title it’s held onto throughout most of the 21st century. Nevertheless, the men and women responsible for this honor remain more proud of quality than quantity.
“Working here is special for countless reasons,” observes Daphne Renee Castro Moreno, a bulk supervisor for PATRÓN. “But the first thing that comes to mind are the amazing products we create; the attention to detail that goes into everything.”
A perfect example arrives in the form of Roca PATRÓN, a tequila crafted using the time-honored tahona technique. Rather than relying on mechanized milling, the agave nectar is worked through here using a massive 2-ton wheel fashioned from volcanic rock. For over 400 years, this has been the traditional way in which the hearts of the plant were processed to extract the liquids necessary for fermentation. Modern technology affords a more efficient method of extraction, but what the tahona lacks in speed it compensates for in flavor.
“Tahona tequila tends to have a smoother and sweeter profile,” explains Mariana Sánchez Benítez, production supervisor. “It’s a very, very slow process. We wait longer to retain the exact tastes that we’re after. But that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make.”
After all, you can’t rush perfection. To wit, the mature Weber Blue agave ages patiently for up to seven years under the hot Jalisco sun. Only then can it be harvested by a team of skilled jimadors, many of whom hail from families that have honed the labor-intensive art over generations.
Back within the walls of The Hacienda, another set of artisans inspect and ensure the quality of thousands upon thousands of casks crowding a stone-walled cellar. These wooden vessels, stacked high to the ceiling, are responsible for the rich and robust notes of vanilla, caramel, and baking spice found in all of PATRÓN’s aged tequilas, from reposados — gently barrel-kissed over a matter of months — to the exquisite Extra Añejo, which rests for a minimum of three years. Only the finest French, Hungarian, and American oak are allowed entry.
From the stillhouse through the barrel rooms, it all happens here at The Hacienda. Even bottling occurs on site. While rare in the world of tequila, containing everything under one roof affords PATRÓN an exacting degree of control over the final product. An average of 60 separate pairs of hands care for each bottle before it’s ready to meet you on the shelf. And all those hands would have it no other way.
“It is truly a labor of love from start to finish,” says Moreno. “I truly believe PATRÓN is the best tequila on the market because we don’t cut corners and we work every day to make sure we’re creating the best-tasting tequila at the highest quality. So it makes me very proud to be part of this brand and what we stand for.”
The Hacienda also stands as a testament to environmental responsibility. Across the property, PATRÓN has implemented state-of-the-art technology to minimize the impact of production. Zero-emission electric motors move the mills; a reverse-osmosis system recycles stillage into clean, potable water; agave waste is converted into compost that employees are free to use at home in their own gardens.
“We also blend the expertise of local agave farms with that of our expert agronomists to ensure a careful and sustainable harvesting practice,” adds Moreno. “I love the values that PATRÓN holds.” And countless millions across the globe love PATRÓN Tequila in return.
It’s a passion born entirely of a place. And now that you’ve savored a small taste of that place, you can go see it for yourself — you won’t even need a passport. On its website, PATRÓN hosts a Virtual Hacienda Tour, an immersive experience offering 360-degree views of the grounds. Originally produced for Oculus Rift, you can now watch with Google Cardboard, as well as on standard mobile, tablet, and desktop devices. But be forewarned: It’s best to line up your favorite bottle of PATRÓN before you start.
This article is sponsored by PATRÓN.