Our man on the bar stool explains the complexities of Roca Patrón
There’s a saying: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Here in the South, that quaint little saying gets a lot of use. Sitting on the front porch with a glass of lemonade is a proper way to celebrate a fine afternoon of 90 degrees, 90 percent humidity and declaring, “Fiddle-dee-dee” at mosquitoes the size of buzzards.
But head further south where it’s a little warmer, and the saying, “When life gives you lemons…have tequila” is somewhat more apropos.
In the hills of Jalisco, Mexico a mystical and wonderful plant is grown and it’s called the Weber Blue Agave. The plant itself is pretty boring on its own. There’s not much fun in sitting around staring at a Mesozoic fern for too long.
So, what they do for kicks is chop it down and grind it up. Then they put it on the back of a rusty pickup truck and cart it off to the Hacienda del Patrón in the nearby town of Atotonilco.
There, the hearts of the agave (called piñas) are baked in stone ovens for 79 hours. They are then hacked into little chunks and fed into a big tahona, which is what they call a grinding wheel made out of volcanic rock or roca.
This naughty thing rips and tears the aforementioned plant into fibers and goo. And there is much rejoicing. This process, if you haven’t guessed, is all part of what goes into a wonderful concoction called Roca Patrón.
Roca Patrón is the latest offering by the famous tequila distiller Patrón.
You’ve seen Patrón before. It’s the one on the top shelf with the round cork stopper and pretty ribbon around its neck. You’ve likely also tasted Patrón before. It’s the ultra-premium tequila that got America to realize there’s much more to this drink than knocking one back and making a funny face while yelling, “Watch this!”
The folks at Patrón have decided that ultra-premium was good an’ all. But, they concluded that ultra-super-dooper-premium was really the way to go and got off the porch to design their new flagship label called Roca Patrón.
(Where was I? Oh, fibers and goo.) Yeah, they take the juice and put it in pine casks for 72 hours of fermentation. Then it’s off to small-capacity copper pot stills where it meets back up with the fibers for the first distillation. After that, they separate the fibers and cook it a second time.
There are three different types of Roca Patrón and they each get a different treatment when they get down to aging.
The distilled spirits are poured into single-use American bourbon barrels. Roca Patrón Reposado (meaning “Rested”) is aged five months. Roca Patrón Anejo (“Aged”) sits for 14 months. And the Roca Patrón Silver (uh…“Silver”) is simply how it is.
Also, with such great responsibility comes great power, or in this case “Proof”. The Roca Patrón line gets a bonus treatment on the back end as well. The three amigos get a higher proof level than the mere top-shelf Patróns. The Reposado is 84 proof. Anejo is 88 proof. And the Silver is a solid 90.
When it comes to bottling, Roca Patrón also gets the full spa treatment. More than 60 different hands touch and inspect each bottle, from labeling and polishing, to tying the little ribbon on it and then signing and numbering it with an old-fashioned fountain pen.
“But how does it taste?” you ask.
In all, the three of them are a lot more delicate (yes, “delicate”) than the regular Patrón versions. In the Reposado and Anejo, there’s definitely the caramel and vanilla spice taste that carries over from the oak-barrel aging. The Anejo has a bit more of a cinnamon-peppery note because it sits longer.
The Silver doesn’t have this. Since it goes around the barrel process, it’s more light and dry. Yet it still has the earthy vanilla tones from the baked agave.
So, try some of this on the porch and while away the afternoon. You’re as far south as you need to be to have some. They don’t sell Patrón in Mexico.