This podcast series is in collaboration with PATRÓN Tequila, the world’s No. 1 super-premium tequila that is passionately handcrafted in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. To learn more about the PATRÓN, visit Patró

In Part 1 of this six-episode series, host Zach Geballe chats with David Alan, the director of trade advocacy for PATRÓN Tequila. From harvesting agave to bottling the beloved liquid, what goes into making tequila? The two discuss the spirit’s long history in Mexico, the harvesting, cultivation, and fermentation processes, and the best ways to enjoy a bottle of PATRÓN Silver.

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Zach Geballe: Welcome to “Hablando de Tequila.” I’m your host Zach Geballe, and throughout this six-part series, we’ll explore the history, people, culture, and future of tequila. On today’s episode, I’m joined by David Alan, the director of trade advocacy for PATRÓN Tequila. We discuss all things agave, it’s cultivation and harvesting, and how it’s distilled to produce that magical liquid we call tequila. David, thanks so much for your time.

David Alan: Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.

Z: There’s so much that I’m looking forward to chatting with you about tequila and the specifics of PATRÓN. But let’s start with this very simple question: What is tequila?

D: Well, tequila is an agave spirit. It has historic significance to Mexico. It’s a product of place, and it’s something that we recognize as going back at least 200 years, into the ancient history of Mexico. The agave plant has been distilled at least as far back as the Spanish arrival, at least from the official story of tequila. Then, there’s emerging evidence that suggests that there was actually pre-colonial distillation; that Mesoamerican peoples had cracked the code and figured out how to ferment and distill this endemic plant to their region back before the arrival of European-style distillation. But we also know that they were drinking fermented beverages made from agave. This plant grows all over Mexico and is a crucial part of Mesoamerican and Mexican culture. We have evidence and we also suspect, before the written time, that agave-fermented beverages were used in all manners of ritual and diplomatic functions. It’s on the shelf today at your local liquor store, and it has been produced on this continent for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Z: As far as differentiating tequila from other agave spirits, what is it that sets tequila apart? What are the things that make tequila tequila and not something else?

D: Before it became commercialized and modernized, tequila was known as “vino de mezcal de Tequila.” So, “Mezcal wine of Tequila.” Well, what does that mean? It means it’s a distilled product of mezcal or agave plants and from the town of Tequila, which is outside of Guadalajara, the capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco. So all over Mexico, in ancient history and up into the present day, you have these locally made distillates from agave. They have characteristics that are somewhat similar, in that the agave has to be roasted. It has to be converted from a complex sugar to a simple sugar so that it can be fermented. Traditionally, that was done over live coals. It was done in the ground in a pit oven. Somehow, those roasted agaves were milled, whether by hand or by stone or by ax. Then, that sugar is fermented and distilled. There are lots of different ways that can happen along the way, but in general, those steps have to happen. Those regional distillates of Mexico have ancient origins. Even as they’re still made today in most parts of Mexico, a couple of them have emerged, and you could say that tequila became the most famous of them. It’s the one that’s known around the world. But really, it’s just a mezcal made from the town of Tequila. There’s a lot more to it than that today, but it started to emerge in the 1800s. You started to really see distinct properties of these vinos de mezcals de Tequila. As this product becomes packaged, bottled, shipped, and shared outside the local community, you have to change the production method because these little conical pit ovens become inadequate for the task of producing something on this scale to meet the demand that was growing for the product. So you start to see producers roasting the agaves in clay brick ovens above ground, so steam-heated ovens. That’s one of the first big distinctions that makes tequila tequila, differentiating it as a type of mezcal. It’s unique from the other ones in that it no longer has as much of that smoky profile, because the agaves are getting roasted in an oven versus in a pit in the ground. Another big distinction is that it does get bottled; it gets a label put on it. A lot of these little regional distillates are made for local consumption. You go down to your friendly farmer the same way you might pick up milk or some other produce of agriculture. You would also get some mezcal, because it’s an agricultural product. That’s another distinct feature of tequila as it modernizes, is that it becomes a commercial product. It’s something put in a bottle, given labels, given brands, shipped far and wide for consumption outside of the local community.

Z: Tying it to the town of Tequila and the surrounding region, what is that area like? As you mentioned, agave grows all over Mexico and Mesoamerica and various distillates are made from it all over. But are there some unique characteristics to the region that make it especially well suited to the cultivation of agave and distillation thereof, or give it a distinctive character beyond the production methodology?

D: Sure. The landscape of Jalisco is actually a protected UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. It is that unique, and it’s recognized as being distinct in the world. And you get outside of the city of Guadalajara, half an hour away, and you start to see the rolling hills covered in agave plants and cultivation. The further you get out in both directions, north and west, you get to the town of Tequila. It’s called the Tequila Valley — Valle del Tequila. It is the local industry. It’s quite remarkable. The closer you get into that area, as far as the eye can see there are blue agaves covering the hills. It’s just a really gorgeous landscape, and the infrastructure of the tequila industry is very prevalent there. That is the more ancient area of tequila production. Up in what’s known as the Altos, or the Highlands, you go up in elevation. But it’s a misnomer to call the Tequila Valley “lowlands” because it’s still quite mountainous and high. East of Guadalajara towards Los Altos, the terrain changes. It becomes a little more mountainous; a little drier. The soil has this very beautiful, distinct red hue rich in iron oxide, which helps impart unique flavors into the agave. That’s where PATRÓN is located. It’s become the premier growing region, I would say, probably reflecting a little bias. The industry didn’t really start developing there until the turn of the 20th century. Today, it’s densely populated. There are more tequila plantations there and it’s more productive. Some of the premiere tequilas in the world, including PATRÓN, come from the Los Altos region. Throughout this whole area, there are microclimates and different terroir features that impart distinct flavors to the tequila. So regardless of where you are and whether you’re in the valleys or the Highlands, tequilas have this distinct natural ecological terroir, and what we call human terroir, as the traditions of tequila-making are differentiated by the area.

Z: Now I’m going to ask more questions that are maybe simple or stupid, and I’m going to just apologize upfront. But hopefully, this is useful not just for me, but for our listeners, too. Is the agave that’s cultivated — either in the Tequila region more generally or specifically for PATRÓN — wild? Is it farmed? What is that like? A thing I know about agave is that it takes a fairly long time to reach a size where it can be harvested and used for tequila production. We’re not talking about, in my frame of reference, wine, where you’re getting a crop from the same vines every year. What is the actual cultivation of agave like?

D: Well, I’m glad you made the reference to wine. Because I believe — and correct me if I’m wrong — that tequila and agave spirits are the only distilled spirits made from a non-annual harvest, in that the fruits of our production, the raw material going in, is not an annual production as grapes, grain, and stone fruits are. The raw materials for most spirits are grown every year. In tequila production and agave spirits production, this is a years-long process. And as I mentioned, there are a couple of hundred different types of species and subspecies and hybrids of agave plants that grow throughout Mexico. Since the late 1800s, the industry started rallying around a specific plant, which is the Blue Weber agave, as being the primary agave for tequila production. In 1976, the Norma Oficial, which is the law that governs tequila, actually made it official. They said, “You have to use this agave; you can’t use any other agave sugar essentially in the production of your tequila and still call it tequila.” So there’s a few distinct features of the Blue Weber agave that make it suitable for spirits production. So there are a couple of features of it. For one thing, it matures fairly quickly. We’re talking 5 to 8 years for full maturity versus wild species of agave. I’ve drank mezcals that were between 35 and 40 years old. You can’t make much of a commercial production out of that 35- and 40-year mezcal. So there’s a quicker maturation that allows for the industry to keep producing comparatively quickly. It also has a high concentration of sugar compared to other agave species. The Blue Weber agave is efficient at storing inulin in the heart of it. So you get more bang for your buck, I guess you could say, with this agave. Its method of reproduction is conducive to a commercial product. So you have several different ways agaves can reproduce. In the wild, they will shoot up this flower stock called a “quiote” and bats, bees, and critters will pollinate the flowers of the agave and create a seed. Then, the seed gets transferred or falls down and germinates. This is a very long process. You will still find plentiful, wild agave distillates in mezcal and some of the other regional distillates of Mexico. But there is no longer, and there hasn’t been for generations, wild Blue Weber agave. This human intervention, the relationship between tequila makers and this plant, is over 100 years old now at this point. The way that the Weber Blue produces that makes it most fruitful, is it puts out these little babies called “hijuelos,” and they’re colloquially called “pups.” Starting about the third year, the mother plant starts shooting up these rhizomes. It’s a little baby. I live in Texas, and not too long ago, I saw this in my backyard. It puts out these little rhizomes, these little baby agaves that pop up around the base of the mother plant. And those are harvested, trimmed, and dried up a little bit. And that actually is the new plant. The Weber Blue is good at that process. It puts out a lot of the hijuelos that can create healthy plants quickly. I use that with the caveat, because nothing is quick in the world of traditional tequila production, but we’re talking about a couple of years versus a decade or something like that.

Z: And so that allows for this, as you said, cultivation that supports the industry at a scale and a pace that meets modern demand, as opposed to having to rely on wild species.

D: During the planting season before the rains come in late spring in Jalisco, you’ll see trucks of these hijuelos getting transported around the region as the producers get ready to plant the next harvest.

Z: What are the conditions that are good for that? It sounds like much of the area is good for growing agave. It’s, as you said, endemic. But are there specific conditions, like soil types? Is it better on hillsides? Pardon my ignorance, this is me as a wine person wanting to know.

D: Well, I think there are some crossover characteristics, and I’m no expert in wine. The agaves are not irrigated, that’s one thing. Part of the art of being agavero is cultivating the land to retain the natural rainfall that comes to that plantation. They cultivate the contour lines of the fields and plant them such that they capture just the right amount of rain and also let go of too much water. Agaves don’t like soggy feet; they need good drainage. In the Altos, where we are, it’s a higher elevation, so the agaves tend to grow slowly, and that’s a good thing. They mature and take on additional complexity over time as they grow. They like a lot of sunshine; it’s very sunny where we are. There’s distinctions from plantation to plantation. The agaves takes on unique characteristics in the same way that wine does. In 2018, we did an Estate Release. It was the first time that we’d ever produced agave on our own soil, packaged it, distilled it, and bottled it for a specific production from our own hacienda. Usually, we contract with growers; it’s one of our unique ways of guaranteeing a secure agave supply. And it’s a business model that’s actually been copied by a lot of other producers. By contracting with growers, we’re essentially getting the best. We’re essentially focusing on what we are best at, which is producing tequila, and then leaving it to the grower/producers to focus on what they do best, which is to give us the highest-quality agave. We’ve set these unique contracts in place, because the agave market can be very volatile. Tying into what we talked about earlier, not being an annual production, if it’s 2021, we’re not buying agave for 2022. We’re buying agave for 2027 or 2028. That sounds impossible to believe, but we’re buying out far ahead of time. We’re working with these grower/producers to guarantee that we get not just the supply, but the quality. We’re specifying specific parameters around which the growers will produce and harvest these agaves. In peak demand times, which we’re in right now — agave is in peak demand — it’s never been more expensive to produce 100 percent de agave tequila. So when there’s peak demand, it ensures that we actually get the agave. We do not have an agave supply problem because we’ve got these longstanding relationships with the producers. The flip side of it is when it’s at its peak supply, meaning there’s a glut of agave, the producers continue to care for the product because there’s times when the value of agave gets so low that it actually costs more to harvest it than it does to just leave it in the field. Our producers know, through their contracts with us, that they will always make a profit on their produce. We’re in a partnership with them. We also don’t just sign a deal and say we’ll be back in seven years to pick up 100 tons of agave. We have a team of agronomists that work with them throughout the whole lifecycle of the plant to make sure that the fields are being tended properly, to make sure that the agaves are healthy, that all the practices of the growers comply with our processes — both from a human resources and sustainability standpoint. So agave is our main raw material; that’s the biggest input to our distillery. There’s a whole infrastructure in place to make sure that that’s done in a way that really fits within our standards.

Z: How does an agavero generally determine if an individual plant is ready to be harvested? What are they looking for? I assume you can’t just dig it up and test it. So you have to know what you’re looking for from the outside, right?

D: Well, it’s the experience. That’s another thing about the agave marketplace. When the prices go wild, all kinds of people get into the agave game that do not have expertise in the area. And that’s a real problem for the industry. It’s not the easiest thing to produce in a responsible way. So these growers that we’ve been working with for years, the families that we buy agave from, we have been buying agave from since the earliest days of the Hacienda. Those producers have the experience to know what to look for. Something what happens in peak demand times is agave gets harvested too early. They’re harvesting unripe or immature agave, which ultimately affects the flavor of the finished product. That’s a shortcut that we will never take. We don’t have to take it, because we’re literally working with the best experts in the industry to supply the agave. I think we skipped a few stages — we went from the hijuelos being planted in the field, over the years the plants grow tall and wide. As they start to become mature, they show signs that are indicators to the harvesters and the farmers. The agaveros can identify these signs that the plants are starting to become mature. For one thing, the leaves — the pencas — start to sag a little bit. They’re not droopy; they’re still straight. But imagine holding your arms up for five or six years, and then you start to fatigue a bit. Your arms sort of spread, they come down a little bit. They’re still straight out, but they’re not quite as high as they were. The penkas start to open up a bit and the base of the agave starts to swell because the plant is basically saying, “Showtime, we’re about to have our big moment.” The plant’s big moment is different from ours, as tequila makers. What the plant wants to do is shoot out this flower stock to go through its sexual reproduction cycle. So it’s saving all that energy for that big moment. What we want is actually to harvest that. So we don’t want the flower stock to shoot up because then, the plant is shooting all that energy into the flowering cycle versus what we need, which is the carbohydrates to distill tequila. So if there is a quiote, we snip that. That’s a sign that the plant’s becoming mature. In other things, the base of the agave kind of goes from that beautiful blue-green color that, I’m sure you’re familiar with, to that iconic color of Blue Weber agave. And it takes on a little bit more of a greenish-yellowish hue. It can get the little spike at the end of the penca. The penca is the long leaf. There’s this little spike at the end that can start to get a little shriveled. I’m a bartender by trade and marketer; I’m not an agavero. So I’m just telling you what I’ve heard from the professionals and the signs they look for. But it’s a generational thing. People learn this practice from their fathers and grandfathers, and it’s passed down through families across generations. So there’s a lot of expertise and knowledge that goes into this process.

Z: There’s obviously many details, and we could spend a lot of time going into all of them. As much as I would love to, I want to be respectful of your time and our listeners’ time. So let’s get to the process. Between plants going in the ground to showing up at the hacienda, what happens? And then when the plants arrive at the hacienda, what’s the process from there?

D: The trucks come in, and even as the plants are being trimmed, the actual jima is one of those decision moments along the way where we start to really apply our philosophy to the tequila-making process: The way that plants are cut, how close the shave is. The actual jima is one element of a part of the distinct PATRÓN process. We trim the agaves very tight to not include a lot of chlorophyll that we think will ultimately result in bitterness in the finished product. Also, sugar content. We’re harvesting very-high-sugar-content agave. Also, there are these little red spots that can appear on the surface of the agave. They’re good in that they’re a sign that the agave is mature and it’s a sign of the spontaneous fermentation that’s happening, but too much of those affects the flavor. In the harvest, we have specifications that we want to make sure that these plants are worthy of becoming PATRÓN tequila. When they arrive at the Hacienda, there’s an inspection and a sample cutting to make sure that the plants meet the requirements. Once they’re unloaded onto the patios at the Hacienda, this is when you really start to see the PATRÓN process unfold. First of all, the piñas have to be roasted. The agaves are trimmed by hand by oven workers. They cut the agave into uniform sizes, and they hand-load the ovens. These are small ovens by comparison to what’s kind of standard out in the world. They’re 14 tons. These ovens are stacked by hand. There’s uniform cooking, and it’s a slow process. We’re talking about 79 hours for these agaves to be roasted. That slow-roasting imparts a depth of character that’s not possible any other way. From the oven, the agaves are unloaded and they have to be milled. At PATRÓN, we have two different milling methods. One of them, and I think the most important, is the tahona. This is an ancient stone wheel of several tons that is pulled around a circular pit, and it crushes the roasted agaves. The way in which this primitive machine works is that it imparts flavor profiles to the tequila that would not otherwise be there via other methods. This isn’t the most efficient or effective way to make tequila. Imagine the tahona being sort of like the Calistoga wagon of iconography; it implies an ancient time. But in a lot of places in the tequila world, it’s just a symbol. It’s not actually a method of production. People will have these tahonas sitting outside their office or their tasting room, whether they use it or not. We have 14 tahonas right now crushing agave at Hacienda PATRÓN. The next biggest tahona user has one or two.

Z: Oh, wow.

D: The tahona mill is an essential part of our production, not just because of the means of crushing the agave, but also what happens next. The sugars that come off of that crushing process are tossed in the fiber, and all of that is scooped up from the pit and put into these tiny little pinewood fermenters. That’s another decision along the way that we’ve made to maintain and preserve traditional tequila production. And here we are, a major producer, distilling a product for global distribution but still on an incredibly small, human scale. These tiny 5,000-liter pinewood fermenters with the tahona on its side of our distillery. That fiber is actually in the fermentation tank, fermenting on the fiber, which is another very distinct and very rare process. Almost nobody does this in tequila anymore. Even into the first distillation. So it ferments for a few days in these pinewood fermenters, and then the contents of the fermenters are pumped into the primary stills. The first distillation is also done on the fiber. Again, there are a couple of distillers left, and no major producers would ever go to the trouble and the tremendous effort that it takes to make tequila in that way. And here we are doing it just that on an incredible scale, but at a very human, handmade scale. So that’s the tahona side of our distillery. On the other side of our distillery, the agaves are unloaded and they’re crushed by what’s known as a roller mill. This is a series of mechanical rollers that the agave will go through. Water jets flow over it to wash the sugars off the fibers as they go through the rollers. Then, that liquid is collected, that must or sugary agave juice is pumped into other pinewood tanks. That liquid is fermented without the fiber, and the fiber goes straight to the compost area. You’ve got the agaves which come in on one stream, they divide and go down two paths through the distillery, and we make two distinct tequilas. On the roller mill side of our distillery, you’ve got this very bright, citric tequila, and on the tahona side of the distillery, you’ve got this deep, herbaceous, bold tequila. Those two spirits, when blended together, make PATRÓN Silver. That is where the magic happens. It’s in the blending process.

Z: Would it be fair to say that everything that PATRÓN makes starts out as PATRÓN Silver? Is that right? There’s not a separate process for making the tequila that will be aged for reposado, añejo, extra añejo, etc.?

D: That is almost completely correct.

Z: Tell me how I’m not completely correct.

D: You’re almost there. The vast majority of the output of our distillery is going to this blend of roller mill and tahona liquid. And that tequila, if it’s going to get bottled, it gets proofed to bottling proof, and then it gets hand-bottled and shipped around the world to PATRÓN lovers. If it’s going to be aged, it’s that same tequila. So PATRÓN Silver is the base for most of our aged tequila. If you’re buying reposado, añejo, or extra añejo, that did start its life as PATRÓN Silver. We do have some other products that are made just from the tahona side. As the leader into tahona production, we have a few unique products that are made that are tahona-only special releases. We never stop innovating as the category leader. So every type of cask we can get our hands on will be filled with one or the other of those tequilas, or the blend, just to see what happens. Oftentimes, the results are quite remarkable. What you’ll see, years down the road, is something that’s aged in a cask or a combination of casks and showed unique characteristics that became worthy of being bottled separately. That’s where we get into the limited releases that we’ve done over time, pushing the boundaries of what can happen in aged tequila. When we launched Gran PATRÓN Piedra about a decade ago, this was the first time anyone had done a four-year-old, extra añejo, tahona-only tequila. It was an extraordinary accomplishment at that time and is still a spectacular liquid. With Gran PATRÓN Burdeos, those are finished in first-growth Bordeaux casks. It’s just an extraordinary accomplishment. Still to this day, nobody has put out anything quite like that, and it’s been 15 years or so. Our newest addition is called PATRÓN Sherry Cask Aged Añejo, and this is basically PATRÓN Silver that spent over two years in oloroso sherry casks. Not finished in oloroso, but its full aging was done in oloroso casks. So there’s no limit to what this distillery can do. The blenders at PATRÓN are the best in the business, and have been innovating for decades now in the category of aged tequila. There’s truly remarkable stuff that comes out of our distillery.

Z: What is the space at the distillery like? Are we talking about something kind of analogous to a bourbon rickhouse, where you’re getting lost through heat and evaporation? What is that like?

D: There are similarities and differences with bourbon country. When you walk in, you get that incredible aroma. Just like walking into a bourbon rickhouse, you know where you are. It’s an unmistakable sense of place. We’re in the mountains, so we do not get the wide swings that you get in bourbon, but it still gets hot enough during the day and cool enough at night. There’s still a temperature variation. There is a lot of interaction in the wood. A key distinction in aging tequila versus bourbon — and all straight American whiskey — is that those are aged in new casks exclusively. That results in a lot of used casks when American whiskeys are bottled. So those casks get shipped around the world to Scotland, to the islands, to Mexico. So we get tons of used American whiskey casks. When you put tequila into a used American whiskey barrel, the interaction and the development of flavor is a bit slower, and I think that’s on purpose. With whiskey, you’re putting a distillate into the barrel that most people don’t consume unaged.

Z: True.

D: Most people are not drinking White Dog whiskey, at least in polite society. But in tequila, that plant’s already been aging for six to eight years in the ground. It has incredible complexity. In the long history of tequila and agave spirits in Mexico, the vast majority of those are consumed unaged. There’s Silver, Blanco, joven, whatever term you want to use. They’re unaged spirits, and it’s a comparatively modern innovation. I would guess that it became commonplace to age tequila from the mid-20th century onward. Now, it’s a super-fun, exciting, and dynamic time to be in the tequila business, because distillers are going crazy exploring the outer reaches of what you can do with cask finishing. Another big distinction is that in bourbon, the barrels roll in and roll out on ricks. In tequila, the barrels are stacked on top of each other, sort of like a solera system. The liquid moves in and out, but the barrels stay. So the barrels will be used many, many times in the tequila production process. The liquid will get pumped in and out of the barrel as it ages, but the barrels themselves stay there for a lot more usages than they do in bourbon.

Z: David, I have just a couple more questions that will help me and hopefully listeners better understand tequila and especially PATRÓN. Is there anything analogous to vintages in tequila, like how we think about it with wine or other things? Agave is not an annual crop in the same way that everything else that is fermented and distilled is. But is there something to the idea of the year of harvest being significant? Or is that just not the case in agave production?

D: I would say yes and no. Yes in that this is a product of nature, right? Especially with PATRÓN, it’s a natural product going in, and it’s a natural production with no scientific intervention along the way. The agave is going in season to season, batch to batch, year to year, and does come out somewhat differently within a very narrow frame. At PATRÓN, we’re committed to consistency. If someone picks up a bottle of PATRÓN anywhere in the world, we want them to know what to expect. So we actually blend for consistency, and each of our expressions has what we call a library sample: This is the definition of what PATRÓN Silver tastes like; this is the definition of what PATRÓN Reposado tastes like. So the blenders actually blend to that specification, because we know that our consumers don’t want a surprise bottle of PATRÓN that doesn’t taste like the last one.

Z: Sure.

D: That being said, it is also exciting when you taste a unique expression of PATRÓN. Over the years, we’ve made many of those available. When something’s an exceptional lot, they get routed to be special releases. For many years, we’ve done barrel select samples. So retailers, accounts, restaurants, and bars might buy a single barrel of PATRÓN. Well, that’s a snapshot of a moment in time. It’s very exciting to see what that particular tequila tastes like from those few months that it was in that particular type of barrel or in that particular place and in the aging warehouse. Those are out there, but they’re limited editions. For the majority of our products, we blend away those vintage variations. I mentioned the Estate Release that we launched in September of 2018. We harvested the 4,600 or so piñas that were in front of our distillery and bottled about 31,000 bottles. That was a snapshot in time of a very special tequila. Those are very sought after. If you see one, grab one. Even five or six years from now, when we make the next Estate Release, it will not taste exactly the same as that previous Estate Release because the weather was different or the soil conditions were different during that time. It’s exciting when you taste those vintage differences, but in general, we blend for consistency.

Z: My last question — and I know this may be an impossible one for you to answer; it’s a little bit like asking someone to pick their favorite child. But if you were to say across the entire lineup, whether it’s the core lineup or some of the more special releases, here are three bottles to understand the breadth of what PATRÓN makes, what should they look for?

D: You’re putting me in an impossible position.

Z: It’s my job as host to do that to the guests.

D: I would be remiss if I didn’t, first and foremost, say our flagship PATRÓN Silver Green Ribbon. It’s the PATRÓN bottle that you know and love. It’s a glorious expression of highland tequila in its most simple and perfect way, if I may use our own cliche. It’s zesty, citric, it’s fun, it’s vibrant. It’s something people have grown up shooting PATRÓN Silver or putting it in a Margarita. When I pour PATRÓN Silver in a glass by itself — no salt, no shaking with ice, no lime — and say, “Taste that,” people’s eyes light up. They’re blown away by how incredible this ubiquitous product is. It’s a stealth tequila sitting on the shelves. Everyone knows it, but they haven’t really explored all of its vitality. It really is a remarkable spirit. I’m excited every time I taste it, and fortunately, I get to taste it a lot. That is the essence of PATRÓN. It’s a natural tequila that achieves all that flavor without using any kind of additives or any manipulation. It is literally what the distillers made, how it was blended, and all the care that went into that bottle. It’s just remarkable, especially if people are new to the category, looking at aged tequila is a great way in. I was a Silver purist for many, many years before I started working for PATRÓN. Once I started tasting our aged expressions, it really changed my opinion about aged tequilas. Aged tequilas have so much complexity and so much range of flavor. When you look at PATRÓN Añejo, that is the other end of the agave spectrum. So you’re introducing all these holiday baking spices and rich tropical fruits that pop up, and a little bit of the tannic-ness from the barrel. If someone’s a whiskey drinker, I think that they would be stunned by PATRÓN Añejo or PATRÓN Extra Añejo. And then sitting in the middle — and this is distinct to the tequila category — is reposado. You don’t see this in other spirits categories, where you’ve got a product that’s only sort of aged. It’s not all the way aged and not unaged. It’s just kind of aged. That’s tequila’s little quirk, and it’s fun because you get all of the agave-forward notes from a Silver tequila, and you start dancing with the barrel influence from añejo. But it’s right there in the middle. In that case, reposados can be very perfect. But to answer your question in a not-too-long-winded way, I have a lot of favorites. It really depends on my mood, it depends on the weather, it depends on who I’m with. That’s one of the other beautiful things about tequila. In a single portfolio of spirits like with PATRÓN, you’ve got a whole bunch of different expressions that are perfect for different occasions and different moods.

Z: Excellent. David, this is fascinating. Thank you so much for indulging my ignorant questions with grace and good cheer. I look forward to sharing a glass of PATRÓN ‘whatever’ in the future.

D: All right, I’ll start working on a menu for our next meeting.

Z: Fantastic.