Patron continues to experiment with smoke in its tequila lineup, the latest being this pair of releases called Patron Ahumado.
Made from agave piñas that are roasted with mesquite charcoal for seven days in underground stone pits, then crushed with a stone tahona wheel, the tequilas are primarily a departure from tequila’s traditional oven cooking. Cooking with wood charcoal in underground pits? Why exactly are these releases not billed as mezcal, one wonders? Actually, tequila is a subset of mezcal, so technically Ahumado should also be mezcal, the only real difference here being that Patron Ahumado is made with blue Weber agave. Ultimately, one assumes that the nomenclature is strictly an issue of brand identity rather than anything to do with the production process.
Two varieties are on offer, an unaged Silver expression and a lightly aged Reposado. Let’s dig in.
Patron Ahumado Tequila Silver – Gently smoky on the nose, it certainly comes across with mezcal on top of mind, though arguably the lightest, gentlest mezcal you’ve ever tried. Touches of fruit cocktail keep the aromatics lively, with undertones of pepper and a dusky incense quality growing stronger with time. The palate is equally light and lively, the barest hint of smoke present to inform a palate that leans heavy on the fruit: lemon and grapefruit, with some chocolate notes underneath. Crisp and spicy as it develops, the finish evokes a lemon pepper quality, gently sweetened with some agave nectar. Tequila fans curious about mezcal will find this a natural baby step in that direction, though hardcore mezcal drinkers are sure to find this much too basic for their tastes. Better to think of it as a very well-made tequila that has just the barest smoke influence on it. 82 proof. A- / $70 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
Patron Ahumado Tequila Reposado – Patron does not indicate the length of aging, but the color is light and the wood influence is decidedly mild. The nose has almost no remaining trace of the smoke used to roast the agave, offering a somewhat sharper (despite a slightly lower abv) experience that evokes red pepper and pastoral grassiness. Peppery green agave becomes more forceful with time in glass, but it remains quite a mild experience. There’s much less fruit here than in the Silver, with fresh agave notes, almost aloe-like, dominating. Grassy and a little green as it develops, some notes of bitter lemon peel are evident late in the game. The finish is gently sweet but again punctuated with pepper and more green agave notes, making for a light but otherwise fairly straightforward, traditional reposado that really doesn’t evoke smokiness at all — for better or worse. 80 proof. B+ / $80 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]