Patrón's newest premium tequila may also be its most old-fashioned.
Visitors to the brand's distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, have long heard how its core line of tequilas is a blend of two different processes: One using a modern roller mill and the old-school method employing a 2-ton volcanic stone wheel called a tahona.
Only the latter—rarely practiced in modern distilleries—is used to make the new line, Roca Patrón, which starts arriving in stores Friday. (Roca means "rock" in Spanish.) They're more agave-forward spirits, thanks to the rock-crushed agave fibers that remain with the juice during fermentation and distillation. In the modern process, those fibers are filtered out before fermentation.
"The process had changed over time, not for taste, but for efficiency," said master distiller Antonio Rodriguez, in an interview with CNBC. Now, he said, there's greater market demand for spirits produced in a more hands-on way. And it didn't hurt that distillery visitors, who get a taste of tequilas made by each method, often expressed interest in a tahona-only product.
The Roca Patrón trio is made up of three types: silver ($69), reposado ($79) and añejo ($89). But it's not a straight correlation with the less expensive core Patrón line, which is smoother. The Roca Patrón tequilas have more complexity, and are less citrusy.